I don’t know about you, but July always gets me. It just seems to sneak up on me, even though I’ve all but waited the entire year for it to arrive. This year was no exception. But the difference between this year’s July and those of past years is the strange sense of zen I’m feeling (in addition to the sticky-sweaty-dirty I’m TOTALLY feeling from harvesting in the fields today). Year four of working on a farm- typically with children, no less- has rendered me a far more observant, patient, healthy, and generally content human being. Small victories- like an intermittent breeze while harvesting on sweltering days such as this one- are quietly celebrated with the rhythm of the day while larger ones- like a successful week of youth programming- welcome new experiences and friendships amongst children eager to return to the farm and remain part of its community. No doubt, I have the best job I’ve ever had, and I look forward to what the remainder of summer and fall will bring.
But for now, it’s July. Hot, humid, backyard-grillin’, slaw-and-salad-makin’, berry-riddled July. Here’s your strawberry swan song if you live in the Northeast. A fruit spread with great gelling quality but no added pectin (well, you know what I mean) or white sugar, this is THE strawberry jam to make this summer, or better yet, every summer from now on, as I plan to do!
Yields about 5 half-pints
- about 5 lbs whole strawberries, hulled
- about 2 1/2 cups local honey
- 1/2 lemon, seeds removed (quartered, squeezed, thrown into pot)
- 1 small green apple, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- pinch of salt
Combine the strawberries, lemon, honey, apple, and salt in a non-reactive bowl or pot; stir gently and allow to macerate (a few hours to 48 hours is fine). When ready to cook, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a steady simmer; partially cover the pot with a lid if the jam is spattering. Stir frequently to ensure it is not sticking and scorching to the pot and skim foam as necessary (fyi- this stuff is also DELICIOUS, especially with vanilla ice cream). Once the mixture has reduced by about half, turn up the heat slightly and begin to stir it constantly. At this point, you will stop cooking the jam when it reaches the set of your preference. For this particular jam, I used the refrigerator test to check its gelling quality. If the jam isn’t setting up to your preference after several more minutes of cooking, add an additional 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, stirring constantly and testing the jam again.
To can, turn off the heat and remove the pieces of lemon. Ladle hot jam into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace, adjust two piece lids, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.