As you`ll see tomorrow (if you care to come back for a visit :)), we bought 9 pints of local strawberries for $7.11. They were a day old and perhaps a little less than ideal for jam but we were looking for something much more liquid and I had something else up my sleeve.
I adore making multiple different types of preserves at the same time. You can gain massive efficiency and by mixing batches up you can easily do things you couldn`t otherwise.
Here`s what I mean:
- We started using a small mandolin to cut uniform pieces of berries. A mandolin is a quick way to cut uniform slices and an awesome tool when dehydrating. The difficulty is an inherent danger of cutting yourself as your food gets closed to the blade. The finger guard that comes with them is great on larger fruit and veg but useless on small and tender berries so we dehydrated the bottom half of the berries (the pieces we could easily use the mandolin for) and used the top half for jam or syrup.
- As we went through 9 pints, we picked the best looking fruit to be added to our Rumtopf (more on that in coming days).
- We even saved the hulls for a 4th batch of something special – more details on that experiment on Sunday.
One short evening of work produced dehydrated strawberries, strawberry syrup, the starting of a strawberry Rumtopf and Strawberry syrup. It`s awesome to have choices.
Today`s focus is on Strawberry Syrup – it is, essentially, a liquid jam. We can in 2-year cycles and I had done a lot of strawberries last year of which I still have many (my favourite remains the preserved whole strawberries in simple syrup). We avoid adding pectin and are happy with a runny jam that can be used as a topping for ice cream, slathered on pancakes, spooned onto deserts, laid on a bed of bread-protecting peanut butter and the like.
Our berries were day old and very dark. I was inspired by the recent discovery that a bottle of beer I had purchased for $12 was being sold in a restaurant in Toronto for $90. The beer is Brooklyn Breweries Black Ops beer (it is some of the best copy I have read in beer marketing ever) and I thought it would be fun to make a jam shrouded in mystery (or at least as close to black as I could make it).
The recipe is simple (you can modify the quantity if you keep the ratios in tact):
- 2 lemons
- 6.75 pounds of strawberries
- 5 pounds of sugar
- Optional: some balsamic vinegar (there`s enough acid with the lemons to carry this so this is merely for flavor and color).
Reduce the berries and lemon for about an hour at a gentle boil. We went about 90 minutes (and still have a very runny product).
Add sugar and bring back up to a boil and test for set (my favourite way remains putting some of the jam in the freezer for 2 minutes and running my finger through it to ensure it stays divided).
Place in hot, clean jars and you`re off to the races.
More details on our other preserves in the next few days…