And..it is long.
I learned to love homemade jam at my Aunt Bernie’s house in Michigan. She had a farm, and I decided she had not only the perfect life, but the best farm ever. She grew raspberries, and strawberries by the gross it seemed. We spent several weeks in the summers at her place. There was nothing quite like waking up in the morning and smelling coffee wafting up the stairs, picking up the scent of old house and musty books, to mingle with the scents of hay, and cows, and fresh summer that the breeze was blowing through the window. If Yankee Candle Company came up with that scent I would buy it!
Running down the steep stairs and into the kitchen I would see her, sipping scalding coffee, and slowly chewing on a light biscuit covered with homemade jam while she read the paper. She and I were the early risers of the house. She would smile and ask me if I would like one, and then got up and made it for me.
This was different than my own home where my mom was a late sleeper, and you waited on yourself. It was faintly unnerving to sit and allow someone to make something for you that you could make yourself. Unnerving but deliciously decadent.
She would talk to me about whatever my current interests were: saving the wild horses, Peter Maxx artwork, owning a farm of my own someday, wild life rehabilitation…
She was the undisputed Queen of her siblings when it came to food and cooking, crafts, home improvement, and decorating. She was admired for many things. The most amazing was lifting a two year old colt up off of a spike that he had impaled his neck on. He was stuck on back feet, front feet off the ground and this woman lifted him up enough to get him off that spike. I determined that I would be like her if at all possible.
I think I am. I do many of the things she did. I see evidence of her when I sew, or when I craft, or when I am faux finishing my parlor. I see her in the scalding coffee I love, and the cooking I do. But nothing says Aunt Bernie like homemade jam. At least to me.
I don’t see my cousins at all, and haven’t been back to Michigan since 1985. All of my mom’s siblings have passed away, and she was the last to pass, about five years ago. But I am willing to bet that if any of the cousins was to come upon this post they would smile and agree, knowing exactly what I am talking about.
We are entering in to the main part of strawberry season here in Texas and I was really blessed to pick up a flat of berries for less than $10.00. Now, saying that, I can remember buying flats for less than $5.00 and feeling as if I was paying dearly. Sigh.
Anyway. I had decided that I was making jam this year. There was a time that I made jam every single year but I had gotten out of the habit. Finally, with all of the recalls, and other food issues over the past couple of years I decided I was going back to eating the real thing, or none at all. Once I tasted my homemade jam I could not, for the life of me, think why I had ever stopped making it. The flavor is so much fresher and more real. It is sparkling and fruity, rather than cloyingly sweet.
If you have never made jam try it. It isn’t difficult, nor is it particularly time consuming. If you are new to canning I suggest starting with the freezer jam recipe that is available in packets of Sure-jell or Certo. I use either of these, but not off brands. I never do well with the store brand. In fact, the jam pictured was made with Kroger brand pectin and it is a little drippy.
I made this a little different. As you can see I am still playing with the strawberry, key lime, and rose combination. This jam is very strawberry tasting at first, then the lime comes through, and finally the faint rose taste lingers on the tongue.
Oh, and once you make it? Slather it on one of the following:
Strawberry, Rose & Key Lime Jam
2 qts strawberries, washed hulled, and crushed.
1 package Sure-Jell powdered pectin
1/4 c key lime juice
1 Tbs Rose water
7 cups sugar (full 7 cups!)
Combine crushed berries, juice, pectin, and rosewater in a large pan. Bring to a boil stirring once in awhile to keep from sticking. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Return it to a rolling boil and boil hard for one minute stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. If there is any foam on top, skim it off and discard. Ladle Jam in hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
4 pints jam.
All images (c) Marye Audet, Apron Strings and Simmering Things
Apples and Thyme image used by permission, Vanielje Kitchen
All other content (c)Marye Audet for Baking Delights