First Day of Spring

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      …making our Sunday rounds to the bakery, charcuterie, and the produce stand.  Our winter staples are all still there: the citrus, fennel, leeks, peas, and strawberries.   I should be getting bored with the selection, but it’s just the opposite, I haven’t had quite enough time with them yet.  These crops have been like winter tonics with their sharp and brilliant flavors.  We’ve consumed them daily for weeks now and Allan and I are healthy as horses and charged with energy.  
     The mingled smells of warm baguettes and ripe strawberries in the car on the way home made me desperate to make a small batch of strawberry jam to have with the crusty/chewy bread.  My friend Lauren just blessed me with a donna hay magazine featuring simple jams so I was all set.  
     I sense that the produce calendar is turning the page and probably soon, we will be packing away our reliable citrus juicer and getting excited about cherry pies and peach cobbler, but today, I want to hang on to a little more of winter.
     Happy birthday to Mom, who is exuberant about foods in season and taught me how to preserve food when you’ve got it.  
Basic Strawberry Jam
(from donna hay, issue 55)
1 kg strawberries, hulled and halved
1 tablespoon water
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 kg white sugar
½ cup (125 ml) lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon seeds, wrapped in a piece of muslin
Step 1  Place the strawberries and water in a jam pan or large, deep frying pan over medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the fruit begins to beak down.
Step 2  Add the vanilla, sugar and lemon juice and tie the muslin bag to the handle of the pan, ensuring it is immersed in the jam.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring jam to the boil.  Place a sugar thermometer in the pan, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until temperature reaches 105 degrees C (225 F).
Step 3  While the jam is simmering, use a large metal spoon to skim any foam from the surface and discard.
Step 4  Remove the vanilla bean and carefully pour the hot jam into sterilized glass jars.  Seal with the lids and turn jars upside down until cool.  Makes 4 cups (1 litre)
I just heard the two satisfying pops that mean the jars are sealed.

2 thoughts on “First Day of Spring

  1. Oh Julie, I love to preserve and can! I did a little happy dance thinking about making jam again! Were you able to find canning supplies in Tunis or did you bring them with you? Yay, oh yay!

  2. I brought some canning jars and lids with me, but preserving lemons, confits and jams, even tuna is a local custom and I've been told you can get the jars "anywhere". Haven't found them yet. What I really want to do is start buying cool jars when I'm traveling in Italy, France, and Spain.

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