The crazy jam making continued this week, with two more batches of jam being turned out of my kitchen. This was entirely unplanned. I had intended to make one more batch next week, as my friend Tracey had promised to bring me some plums from her garden when I next saw her.
My mother had other ideas. She came home on Thursday evening with no fewer than fourteen punnets of strawberries that she’d picked up cheaply at the supermarket.
Ok, they were reduced to 20p a punnet, and that is very cheap, but she then handed them over to me. Fourteen punnets of strawberries therefore became my problem.
Have you any idea how dull it is hulling that many strawberries? Let’s move on, because you don’t need a description of that, do you?
So I naturally thought I’d make strawberry jam (jelly, strictly speaking, as I don’t like seeds or bits in my preserves). Strawberry with a hint of lime (because strawberry on its own would be too sweet, and a bit boring). How hard can it be?
Harder than I thought, which is harder than the jelly was. It took two attempts to get the first batch to set. It refused to set the first time, but I put it into jars anyway while I thought of what else I could do. I knew that strawberries have bugger all pectin, so I’d used jam sugar instead of plain granulated. I’d even put in one apple to help add a bit of extra pectin. Still the jelly was resolutely liquid.
I contemplated simply labelling the jars as strawberry syrup instead, but that felt like accepting defeat: and I wasn’t going to be beaten by soft fruits. No sir I was not.
In the end I emptied all the jars back into the saucepan (and had to clean and sterilise the jars again *groan*), added a whole bottle of liquid pectin and wished it the best of luck. Thankfully it did set, although it is the softest jelly I’ve made so far. Tastes good though.
I still had a pint and a half of strawberry juice left… but I was buggered if I was going down the strawberry-on-its-own route again. So I stewed up enough apples (left over from my scrumping the other week… and there are still more left to use up…) to make a 50/50 mix of strawberry and apple. Thus yet another batch of jelly appeared this morning, perfectly set thank goodness (got to love those apples, eh?).
I’m now completely out of jars. My mother managed to get quite a few from her friends, which I had intended to use for the plum jelly in due course, but which have all been used for the two strawberry based jellies instead. The next few days will be spent trying to scrounge some more jars from somewhere in time for Wednesday, which is when I think I’ll be getting the plums from Tracey.
In the meantime I have labelled all the jars, and cut cute little cloth covers for most of them, and I must say that they do look very pretty!