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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Strawberry Jam Edition

I was making jam on the weekend and it totally brought me back to my childhood.

Every summer growing up, we would make strawberry jam. I remember it being this huge production that took the better part of a day. Coming at it as an adult, I know that it takes 20-30 minutes, depending on how fast of a hull-shucker you are. But as a kid, it was a production, and it was long.

My mother would get out the mason jars and boil them to sterilize them. Then we'd shuck the hulls of the berries -- pinch off the green bits at the top of the berry. We had a couple of little silver pincer things that were made for just that and I can remember that those were far superior to the knives I use these days. It would take forever to do the hull-shucking, and then came the squishing.

I always got a go at the squishing - that's one of the easier parts to do. After that, all the sugar would get dumped in. My mother always cut back on the amount of sugar used. Then you had to let it sit FOREVER (aka ten minutes) and then you added the pectin and the lemon juice and had to stir it until your arm fell off (aka three minutes). I always remember my mother taking over for the last couple of minutes and stirring the crap out of that jam

Then you filled your bottles, put the lids on them, but not tight yet, and let them stand for a day or so before tightening the lids up and putting the jam in the freezer.

I had never had storebought jam for the longest time. Then one year, there was a miscalculation and we have two months with no homemade strawberry jam before it was strawberry season again. So my mother bought a jar of it. GROSS. We all hated the store bought stuff. It totally didn't taste like real strawberries. Just an odd sweetness. We just stopped eating jam until we'd made a new batch in the summer. That jar sat in the fridge for over a year before my mother reluctantly threw it away, 99% uneaten.

Funny addendum to that. When I was 10/11 we lived in Germany for a year. When we came back, all our stuff was in storage and we needed to find a place to rent so we stayed in one of those hotels with a mini-kitchen in the room for a couple of weeks. Well, our first morning back, my father went to the grocery store and picked up a loaf of bread, a pound of butter, and a jar of jam. When he got back, we all slathered the bread with butter and jam, took a bite and spat it out.

The bread was the wonderbread type stuff - what I now dub 'garbage bread' and prefer for toast, but won't eat untoasted - and we'd been buying bread at the local corner store for a year. And even if you weren't buying it yourself, it was always rye or some other hearty bread. So the 'garbage' bread tasted so gross. Then there was the butter. At the time you didn't find unsalted butter in the stores as a matter of course like you do today - it was all salted. In Germany, the butter in the stores was all unsalted, there was no salted stuff. So the whole sandwich tasted salty. Then there was the not homemade jam. Altogether, it was flavors we just weren't used to after being away for a year!

Anyway. Strawberry jam making is something I've done almost every year since moving out on my own. And now I wind up bringing a few jars to my folks whenever I make it.

I think I might have to go have a piece of bread with unsalted butter and jam on it now because I've made myself hungry!

smut fixes everything

1 comment:

  1. OOh I think you blogged abt jam last year too! Made me want to try it, but we were moving and I just never had time...but maybe, hopefully, after my surgery, I can give this a try, even if it's just a small batch. Thanks for the reminder!