Thursday, August 4, 2011

Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did

Picking strawberries for a local farmer was my first job ever.  We got paid by the pint . . . I don’t remember but the going rate was but what I do remember is that as a little kid it was nice to have some pocket money to buy a Nutty Buddy Ice Cream on a hot summer day. 

There is a legend that strawberries were named in the nineteenth-century by English children who picked the fruit, strung them on grass straws and sold them as "Straws of berries".   It’s unproven but makes an interesting story.

Strawberries are yum-dilly-icious . . . but they are technically not berries.  This is because they do not contain seeds on the inside but on the outside.  A strawberry can have up to 200 “seeds” on the outside . . . which are technically not seeds but are considered separate fruits unto themselves.  Who knew strawberries were so complex?

Did you know that lemons have more sugar than strawberries?  Unbelievable huh?  Well, it all depends on how you look at it.  On a per fruit basis, this is true . . . a large strawberry has 1.7 grams of sugar whereas an average lemon has 2 grams of sugar.  However, if you look at it by volume, strawberries clearly win out on the sweetness scale. 

A recent national survey concluded that people who do not eat strawberries are weird.  But those of us who enjoy them are considered “fun loving, intelligent and happy."

Strawberry Jam

2 Pounds Fresh Strawberries, Hulled
4 Cups White Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

*Note:  2 pounds of strawberries makes 5 pints of jam.

In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the fruit and vegetable strainer attachment.  

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees  . 

Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

To test for jelling
Place three plates in a freezer... after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate... if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned!

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