After buying my first quart last weekend at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, I was reminded that there is nothing better than locally grown strawberries! The taste is distinctly sweeter and juicier; the fragrance much stronger, than anything you can buy in the store. It brought me back to my childhood days, picking tiny berries at my great grandmother’s farm, eating the majority in my basket before I even got back to the house. A close friend of mine put a link on Facebook early this week of a local farm about 20 miles away had a pick your own patch of organically grown strawberries that was to open June 23rd! It is so hard to find pick your own patches anymore, let alone organic ones! Immediately I let her know I was in for tagging along. My brain danced with the different kinds of tarts, jams, scones, and salads I could make them the star of.
When we arrived at the “gold mine” we were greeted by the owner himself (meanwhile his wife was working in their tiny market), and he gave us an introduction to their place. I love supporting local places as such where two people work so hard to bring communities wonderful food in an organic manner. I could see the pride in both of their eyes talking about the growing seasons, their nursery, produce, and chickens they raise. After about two hours of picking, we had both filled a flat with the red beauties!
Strawberries only hold their freshness for a few days so it is important to either eat them right away or preserve them. This week I made several goodies from the berry goodness. I plan to share them with you over the next few days so enjoy! First up – Strawberry Peach Ginger Jam made with Pomona’s Pectin. I really like using this product because it allows you to use less sugar (or sweetener of your choice, i used honey) than with regular pectin and is preservative free. It is activated by calcium so along with the powder pectin, the box contains the calcium powder that you will mix with water (it gives directions for amounts). I would caution that if you are looking for a really firm jam, this may not be the product for you but I really enjoy the consistency it gives. I am loving this jam! It went great on some gluten free bread I made and on oatmeal. The ginger really brings out the flavor of the strawberries, and the peaches is just the right compliment.
Sterilize your jars as you are preparing your fruit, letting them sit in the hot water until you are ready to begin canning. To prepare the fruit, wash and hull the strawberries, then cut in half. For the peaches I scored the bottoms and put them in boiling water for about 45 seconds so I could easily peel the skin off, then cut into chunks. Put into pot you will be cooking it in with grated ginger, then add calcium water and stir well. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix room temperature honey and the pectin powder. Bring the fruit to a boil and add the honey, vigorously stirring for about two minutes so the pectin dissolves. Return to a boil and then remove from heat. You want to make sure to skim the foam off the top of the mixture so you don’t get bubbles in your finished product. Then fill hot jars with the jam, leaving a little headspace. Clean rims, then place lid and cover onto jars. Return to boiling water (covering jars) for 10 minutes. Remove from water and listen for the ping! Will last about one month after opened.