Savoring the Seasons: Preparing to preserve
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
Farm stands and farmers markets are full of early fruit and vegetables, I’ve planted my annual “pesto crop” of basil and parsley, and I’m making summer preserving plans, freezing asparagus for future soups and strawberries for future crisps, ordering blueberries to freeze, and learning how to make fruit leather with my dehydrator. The Benson Place will begin taking orders for their sustainably grown low-bush blueberries on July 1 (visit www.bensonplace.org or call 413-337-5340).
My Greenfield peace vigil friend, Jim Smethurst, recently posted three photos on his Facebook page: people picking strawberries in a field, a flat of RED strawberries, and jars of strawberry jam. Jim’s photos reminded me of Pomona’s Pectin, a locally-owned business. Their recipe for strawberry jam, using no sweetener, is below.
What’s your favorite jam recipe?
PS: I am honored to be named one of the Recorder “ladies” by Estelle Cade in her My Turn piece Friday, and look forward to exploring our Australian connections.
Wild Edible Plant Walk and Tasting, Sunday, June 29, Noon to 4 p.m., Bug Hill Farm, 502 Bug Hill Road, Ashfield. (Rain date: Sunday, July 6). Learn to identify, harvest, and wild edibles in meadows, woods and wetlands. Identify native pollinators and associated native and introduced plants. Begin or continue a field sketchbook, refresh with fruit “shrubs” (sipping vinegars), and taste samples of farm products crafted from flowers and local fruit. Leaders include Acorn Kitchen folks (www.wearewildfood.com), UMass entomologist Jarrod Fowler, and Beverly Duncan. Contributions accepted. For information, visit www.bughillfarm.org.
This Week We’re Eating ...
UNSWEETENED STRAWBERRY JAM
By Mary Lou Sumberg, Pomona’s Pectin, Greenfield, MA (www.pomonapectin.com and JAMLINE at 413-772-6816)
This cooked jam is made with no sweetener, stevia concentrate, or other very concentrated sweetener, or very small amount of sugar or honey or sweeteners that measure like sugar or honey and Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups.
4 C. mashed strawberries
2 tsp. calcium water
¾ C. water or unsweetened juice
2 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin powder
Prepare calcium water by combining ½ tsp. calcium powder (in small packet in Pomona’s pectin box) with ½ C. water in small, clear jar with lid. Shake well. Store extra calcium water in refrigerator for future use. Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in small sauce pan; cover and heat to low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.
Wash, hull, and mash strawberries. Measure mashed strawberries into sauce pan. Add calcium water and mix well. Bring water or unsweetened juice to boil in separate sauce pan. Put boiling water or unsweetened juice in cup for immersion blender, or in food processor, or in blender. Add pectin. It is very important to vent the lid (if there is one) to let steam out. Don’t use an enclosed blender that can’t be vented. Blend for 10 seconds, then stop and scrape sides so all pectin clumps are in or on liquid. Then blend for full minute until all powder is totally dissolved. Bring fruit mixture to full boil. Add pectin-water or pectin-juice. Stir for 1 minute while mixture returns to full boil. Remove from heat. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes. Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.
Option: To sweeten with Stevia concentrate or small amount of other sweetener, add sweetener to taste before removing fruit mixture from heat. Cook and stir for 1 additional minute after adding sweetener. Jam made with no sweetener may be tart and rather bland. Sweetener helps bring out the flavor of fruit.