I have a passion to preserve and a compulsion to can. June brings with it all manner of firsts; the first asparagus, the first strawberries, the first cherries.
I love fresh strawberries and my sweet little patch produced a bumper crop this year. Typically, the birds eat all the berries and, sadly, I go empty-handed. This year, however, I foiled the birds by making a chicken wire cage that covered the strawberries and I was able to eat sun warmed strawberries to my heart’s delight – one for me – one for the bowl – one for me – one for….me and one for…me. No one else need know about the daily ripening of these delicious strawberries. Do they?
Tarragon is also out in full force at this time. The combination of strawberries and tarragon is wonderful and together make a delightful jam suitable for toast but excellent with cheese.
Jam making is actually very easy. It need not be intimidating. Fruit preserves need three elements to set properly: sugar, pectin and acid. There are many great books that have been written on canning and preserving and I will let you find those books to get further information on the process.
Makes 3 – 3 1/2 cups
5 cups crushed strawberries (I use a potato masher)
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
1.Put crushed strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Stir constantly to dissolve sugar.
2.Reduce heat and simmer, bubbling away, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the tarragon. It will take about 15 minutes to reach the jammy stage. This will not be a really thick commercial style jam but rather a nice soft jam. There will be some foam produced while simmering which you can remove by using a large metal spoon. Don’t throw this foam away – it makes a great ice-cream sauce.
3.Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal.