Here it is, finally - my first blog, my first blog post.
Several months ago I moved into my second place in San Francisco: a little cottage in the middle of the city, directly on the fog line. There are many perks to the cottage... like my kitchen is yellow and I have a decent sized backyard with a garden and grill. And then there are some problems... like spiders and a lack of insulation. But, hey, I have a stand alone home in the city, so... can't complain.
The wonderful thing about my space is that it is mine and I can spend my whole Sunday in the kitchen making a gigantic mess (aka, "Hurricane Emily"). This means lots of experimentation. I've dabbled with pickling, created my own recipes for jams and fruit butters, baked extra garlicky bread, concocted memorable recipes and some not-so-much meals.
Another awesome aspect to living in the cottage is the neighborhood. It's located on the corner of Inner Richmond, Lone Mountain, and Laurel Heights. Just a quick three blocks away, Clement Street closes from 2nd to 4th Ave for a big farmers market every Sunday. AND, it was recently granted its request to stick around for the whole year! This is perfect for me because Sundays are my big mess and big batch days. I usually make jams, stocks, soups, and prepare meals for the week. Prepping is essential for eating well while being super busy during the work week. More on that another time...
One of the first times I made strawberry jam, the berries bubbled over like a volcano, erupting gusher-red stickiness all over. I'm talking strawberry splatters on the ceiling, counters and everywhere else. Unfortunately I was too busy wiping all surfaces of the kitchen to get any pictures of the monstrosity.
For some reason, last week the market was selling strawberries. I thought they were out of season like the rest of the berry family, but apparently not. Most of my favorite jams are from the summer, and therefore currently unavailable - cause the best jams (and most jams) are made during peak harvesting season. In the future I will share with you my hint of mint blackberry jam, white peach + red raspberry jam, and basil-infused yellow peach preserves. For now, I have my easiest to consume at large quantities preserve recipe for you.
This jam is extremely versatile. It's been slathered on whole wheat toast, paired with greek yogurt, and swirled on top of cheesecake. It can definitely be made without the boiling water bath steps. If you choose not to can, omit steps 3 and 7. Then consume the jam within two weeks and keep it in the fridge! (Warning: it definitely will not last you two weeks)
brown sugar strawberry jam
Adapted from Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving.
Yields 4 half-pint jars
- 6 pints strawberries, hulled + sliced
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Put two small plates in the freezer. Later, when making the jam you will use these as "testers" to check if the jam is ready for canning.
Add the strawberries, sugars, and lemon juice to a large bowl. Stir. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours to allow the berries to macerate.
Sterilize 4 half-pint mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a large stockpot with water, and set over medium-high heat. Bring to boiling point. Put the lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and set the pan aside. (It is definitely OK to sterilize more than 4 just in case you end up with more jam than intended. Also more than OK.)
Transfer the strawberry mixture to a medium stainless-steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 20-25 minutes while the mixture thickens. (Be sure to pay careful attention during this step, or else you will have a Hurricane Emily mess!) Stir frequently to prevent the contents from boiling over. Skim any foam bubbles that ride to the top of the mixture.
Test for gelling. Take a plate from the freezer and place a teaspoon of the strawberry mixture on the plate. Place it in the freezer and wait 1-2 minutes. Take out of the freezer. If the top of the jam wrinkles, it is ready! You can now begin the canning process. If it is clearly runny on the plate, or does not wrinkle, continue to boil the jam mixture for 5 minutes. Then, repeat this step.
Using jar or canning tongs, place the hot, sterilized jars on top of a cooling rack on the counter. Ladle the jam into the jars with a canning funnel (if you have one). Leave about 1/4-inch headspace. Using a non-metallic spoon or spatula, remove trapped air bubbles, and clean the rims with a damp towel. Place the lids on the jars and very carefully screw on the bands, making sure to tighten only finger-tip tight.*
- Using canning tongs, put the jars into the large stockpot. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
*Finger-tip tight: When putting the bands to secure the lid, be sure to screw the bands in such a way that you could very easily remove the bands, but they are still keeping the lid from popping off. This step is essential for canning, allowing any air to be released from the jar during the boiling water bath process.