Monday, November 20, 2006

Strawberry Jinx

This time last year I was afloat in a sea of strawberry jam. Our organic strawberries were prolific, we sorted them and sold the best quality, then I was left with all the seconds to jam. Twice a week I would preside over a madly foaming fragrant pot of strawberry syrup as it converted itself into jam and stack the latest jars onto shelves already groaning under the weight of the previous weeks jamming. I sold loads of jam at the local market, gave it away as Christmas presents and still had enough to see us through to the next strawberry season.

This year I have a sneaking suspicion that the universe has taken me at my word with my mild grumblings and reluctance to face up to the labour of another strawberry season, overflowing with brilliant red fruit to sort, process and jam. Plus I committed a crime against frugality by carelessly letting my very first batch of jam burn, so it is fit only for baking. The strawberries started fruiting as normal, but after a week or two went on strike. Instead of the usual 5 or 6 kilo harvest twice a week, we were getting a mere kilo. We just supplied our one customer with whatever there was, ate the seconds ourselves and had none left over for jamming.

Finally the strawberries seem to be picking up again. Their flavour is sweeter than it has been for ages, they are fewer but less affected by bugs than last year and this week I finally had enough to make a batch of jam. Today as I lovingly stood over it, stirring far more often than necessary, determined that this time it would not burn, I was once again seduced by the bright colour, the rich aroma and the prospect of stocking my shelves again. My three jars won’t last us long but maybe if I’m careful not to complain about the extra work and admit that I love it really, the universe will allow me a few more batches of jam before the end of the season.


  1. Isn't that just how the universe pays it back? Make sure you whistle extra sweetly, hehe. BTW, do you use natural pectin or some over the counter pectin? Just curious...
    I envy your beautiful beginning of summer as up here we are freezing to death!

  2. Sure is! I use lemon juice to add pectin. About 25-50ml per kg fruit. It varies wildly though, so if it doesn't set I add more and keep on cooking. We like our jam quite runny though, so don't need a hard set.

  3. Wish I was there with you making the jams...when I made the grape jelly I added less sugar and got a runny jelly in some batches...I have a problem with all the sugar and oversweetness...the fruit is already so sweet...will lemon juice help conteract that sugar overload?

  4. Yes I think it does, at least the jan turns out sweet but not sickly and yuo don't taste the lemon itself.


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