My fascination with homemade jam continues. I love the entire process from deciding which flavor to create to selecting the fruit to processing the jars in the water bath. It brings a sense of accomplishment. In turn, I enjoy sharing with my friends and family the end product.
Sunday was a jam making extravaganza. It was a strawberry festival at my house. My hubby was certainly enjoying the aroma of strawberries. This time of year produces some of the most juicy and flavorful berries. I purchased 16 pounds of strawberries from Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market. I was shocked to see that each 4 pound container was only $3.72 each. The berries were perfectly ripe and delicious.
It is fun to add a creative touch to a staple flavor of jam, such as strawberry. The first thought that came to mind was lavender. I know, you are probably thinking – what a strange combination. The hint of aromatic floral is just ideal with the sweet berries. The flavor is supreme and unique. By the end of the day, I had produced 26 half pint jars of jam.
If you live in the Bay Area, or want to visit and want to learn to make jam, I have two great resources for you. I discovered Happy Girl Kitchen at the Farmer’s Market at the San Francisco Ferry Building. They have a wonderful story of how they got started on the website and it is very inspirational. They offer jam workshops at their headquarters in Pacific Grove along with classes in Oakland and Watsonville. It might be worth the drive depending where you live.
The second resource is Blue Chair Fruit Company. Classes are held at their beautiful Oakland kitchen. The class size is limited to 12 students so you receive personal attention. I just purchased the Blue Chair Cookbook and it is stunning book and I give it high praise. Both Happy Girl Kitchen and Blue Chair are on my bucket list!
While making my jam on Sunday, a cute little saying that my Aunt would often say, came to mind – “Patience is a grace, grace is a little girl with jam on her face”.
Strawberry Lavender Jam
16 C. (4 lbs) Strawberries, hulled and halved
2 ½ C. Sugar
½ C. Fresh lemon juice
1 packet of pectin
1 T. Fresh or dried lavender
In a large non-reactive pan add the strawberries and sugar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids. You can sterilize by placing in a 225 degree oven on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes or sterilize in hot water or the dishwasher. Place 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer.
Add the lemon juice and pectin to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, add lavender, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Use 1 tsp jam and a chilled plate to test if the jam is ready. The mixture is ready if it wrinkles when nudged gently with a finger. If it doesn’t, continue to cook for a few minutes longer and retest.
Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if needed. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Remove and let cool on a towel. The lids will pop and that means they are sealed. To test, simply press down on the lid and if no popping happens, they are sealed. Tighten the lids and store in a dark, cool location.