Monday, August 2, 2010

Utilising the Seasonal Harvest... Have you ever made your own Strawberry Jam?

Understanding and accepting that all things in life occur in and for a season, allows us to embrace the season we are in and utilise the harvest of that season, as best we can.
When it comes to fresh produce, the seasons and the harvest, are mainly determined by climate. One of the great shames of large scale production of conventional produce and the use of cold storage facilities, is that we have lost touch with the concept of seasons. The so called "fresh produce" you are purchasing has been sprayed and stayed for months before you see it and eat it.
The western world, the so called developed nations continue to move towards controlling everything, having whatever we want, whenever we want it, no matter the price!
One of the pleasures of growing and purchasing organic produce, is that the seasons and the weather, are crucial to what produce is available to us. For fresh produce to be Certified as Organic, it cannot have been sprayed with chemical, either to protect it from bugs or to preserve its shelf life. Organic produce means you are receiving seasonal produce, that does come to you fresh from the growers.
My Organic supplier "Lettuce Deliver Organics" purchase direct from the growers, according to the orders they receive from their customers weekly. They buy their strawberries from "Pim's Organics" in the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland. The price they pay and then I pay is determined by the availability and quality of the produce each week. The strawberries have been in season and plentiful the past month and so the price has been lower. The strawberries are picked only two to three days before you are eating them.

There has been a lot of rain in Queensland the past week, which has meant some strawberry crops have been damaged or lost. In this case the growers try to sell their produce as seconds, to make some money from this damaged produce. This is when we the consumer, can purchase beautiful organic strawberries at an even lower price, fruit that is a little damaged, but that still tastes great. We can utilise this harvest to make delicious strawberry jam.

Here's how I do that:
what you need:
1 kg organic Strawberry seconds, remove hull
2 cups rapadura sugar
2 lemons juiced
2 x 300g empty clean glass jars with metal lids

what to do:
To sterilise the jars and lids place them in a medium oven 160 deg C for at least half an hour.

Wash and take the green leafy hull off the strawberries, cut them in halves.

Layer the strawberries and the sugar in a large stainless steel pot.

add the lemon juice through a sieve to ensure you remove seeds

Place on a low heat on the stove, until sugar dissolves

Once sugar has dissolved, increase heat and boil the fruit mix for 20 minutes, remove scum from top with a large ladle, stir occasionally

Now turn down to a low heat and simmer another 40 minutes to an hour, again stirring occasionally

The mixture will thicken and move to what is called a setting point. There is two ways to check when the jam is at setting point, either with a warmed thermometer, setting point is reached at 110 deg C (220 deg F) or by dipping a wooden spoon into the jam, turning it sideways, and if the jam sets on the spoon, coating the back of the spoon then dropping off rather than just running off, setting point is reached.

It is now time to take your lovely home made thick jam and put it into the sterilised jars.

Your jars must still be hot, as the jam is very hot and you don't want to put it into a cold glass jar, as it will crack.
Ladle jam into jars, careful not to drop jam on your skin and burn yourself
Seal jars, label and store in the pantry.
Remember to store in the refrigerator once seal is broken.
Enjoy on some hot toast anytime of the day!
For more recipe ideas on how to cook from scratch in season

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