Of magnificent firsts

This week was a week of magnificent firsts.

For starters, I took my first pond swim. Wednesday was the first day the heat broke 80, and I drove out to Great Pond and dove in. I took my first bike ride through the woods to the beach at Newcomb's Hollow, and at the restaurant, we were busy—crazy busy—for the first time this year.

Best of all, I stole the first four ripe red berries from my strawberry patch.

This was especially exciting in light of what happened last year. This year, if these four early berries have anything to say, is going to be a much better one as far as strawberries go. It has been months since we ate the last of my mother's jam from '08 and the few small jars from '09, and as soon as possible, I plan to rectify that.

In the meantime, I'll be eating our strawberries straight from the dirt, dipped in cream.


When we make this, it's an all-family, all-day event. We leave for the pick-your-own fields (Prout's in Bowdoin, Maine) around seven, have 40 quarts home by ten, and spend the rest of the morning washing, hulling, and watching the pots on the stove. One note: we do not slice the berries, and I think this is key. It makes for big globs of berries in the finished jam, a texture that I adore.

6 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
4 cups granulated sugar

Get out a large, non-reactive pan, put the berries in, and crush them gently with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to release their juices. Add the sugar and stir until it's dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the berries and sugar to a light boil.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the jam sheets off the spoon. (When you first start cooking the jam, pull your spoon out and watch the way the liquid drips off of it. The drops will be light and syrupy at first. As the jam continues to boil, the drops will get heavier, and eventually, they will come together to form a fluid sheet as they come off the spoon. This is the jellying point.)

Spoon out a little bit of jam onto a plate and let it cool. If it has a good consistency, pour it immediately into sterile jars. (If not, continue cooking until you feel it has the thickness you want.) Wipe the rims with a cloth dipped in boiling water and seal the jars with sterile lids. Check the seal by leaving the jars to cool on a dishtowel overnight—if they didn't seal, there will be juice oozing out.

Once it's put up, the jam is good for at least a year.

P.S. There's a list of places that do pick-your-own strawberries in our area over here. Tony Andrews Farm in East Falmouth is currently open for pick-your-own seven days a week, from eight to noon. I'll see you there!


Anna said...

I just found a jar of last year's batch in the back of my fridge as I was moving out! A very welcome suprise on day SIX of cleaning/packing....nom nom nom

Elspeth said...

Mmmm I am jealous. I think you should bring it here!

Happy moving,


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