Hello...

Hello.
I knew at the beginning of the year that I wanted to let go of the blog. I am in a different place now and I need the space to work through a great many things. I intend to keep the archives up for a time, although I have removed the comment function.
If you have landed here - welcome and feel free to dip in to what was our life - once upon a time...
J xxx

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Strawberries



So many posts about strawberries just now - and why not? Nothing else shouts "Summer!" quite like these shiny scarlet jewels. Punnets of local strawberries are piled on counters in many of the shops and petrol stations just now, and its a very rare trip that sees me return without one or two of the fragrant packages in my bag.



And so, several times a week I find myself with strawberries draining in the sink. What to do with all this delicious bounty?



Well, you can't really have too many strawberries and cream - probably our favourite way to eat the ripe lucious fruits just now. I like to macerate them in a spoonful of caster sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It really seems to bring out the sweetness even more, and then, smothered with double cream - or perhaps even ice cream, it is truly the taste of summer.



Then, of course, there is strawberry jam. I like to make a few small batches each year - most gets eaten or given away, but keeping a couple of jars to open in the depths of winter is a treat.  I tried a new method of jam making this time, but I need to warn you in advance that it takes 3 days - a small amount of stirring and boiling and lots of leaving covered with a cloth. Anyway, I used 2 kg of berries and 2 kg jam sugar*
Rinse and hull the strawberries, but leave whole
Place berries in a large bowl, and layer up with the sugar.



Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave until next day.
The sugar will have begun to dissolve and the strawberries will have softened.
Empty the contents of the bowl into a preserving pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn up the heat and boil hard for 5 minutes
Put the contents back into the bowl, cover and leave for 48 hours.
transfer back to pan and bring back to boil until setting point is reached - about 10-20 minutes.

Keep checking for setting point, as you don't want the fruit to be hard. I usually use the chilled saucer method: drop a dollop onto a chilled plate, wait a minute or two then push to see if it wrinkles. if it does then its ready. Or, if the jam falls off the spoon in large flakes, then it is at setting point.

Leave in the pan for 15 - 20 minutes, to allow the fruit to settle, then pot into warm sterilised jars.



What else is there to say.... just enjoy!

Strawberry and mint ice pop? Go on... it's a lovely day. Take 5 sprigs of mint, 150 g caster sugar, half a lemon and 700 ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn down heat, add 500g strawberries and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid. Simmer until the strawberries are soft. Remove pan from heat, cover with a cloth and leave to cool overnight. Strain the liquor -  push as much of the strawberries through the sieve as you can, but remove the mint and lemon. Freeze in ice lolly moulds, or you can decant into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge to use for future popsicles, or as a syrup base for drinks, ice cream drizzles or mixed into yogurt.



 Maybe even crush one of your ice pops up and mix with a splash of Bacardi and soda water for a refreshing strawberry mint daiquiri.  Definitely a recommendation, that one.



Or, just maybe, you could eat them straight as they come. 
Hope you are enjoying the season. xxx


*I used jam sugar with added pectin.

11 comments:

  1. The strawberry/mint ice pop sounds good, the mint in the garden is prolific. I am now wondering if that would make a nice iced tea??? I am going out to check if we have any strawberries ready to give it a go.

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  2. Hi MM - it is very refreshing just diluted with some iced water. Just watch out with the mint that it doesn't overpower too much. I do grow some strawberries but only ever seem to have a few ripe at a time - really they need to be eaten straight from the plant... Xx

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  3. I, too, love to make strawberry jam. The smaller ,of summer jam, make wonderful Christmas gifts.

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  4. Never too many strawberries! Love strawberry jam! Yours look so pretty.

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  5. Sounds good - enjoy - no strawberries here for a while yet.

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  6. I have a dehydrated bought for dehydrating home made meals for long distance walks, preserving tomato passata from the polytunnel and making fruit leather. Strawberries work really well for this should we be lucky to have a glut. I live in West Wales and pick wild bilberries for fruit leather and chucking fresh into pancakes. They are just beginning to ripen.

    I was looking at some of your older posts Jacqui and read about a previous visit to Wonder wool. I went this year ... A great day out for a wool lover. That lovely photo of crows on a wire that you took at the show was shown again along with a gorgeous felted scene of fields made with black wool on a cotton background. Then I saw your photo of starlings on a wire on Lewis which reminded me of Wonder wool. Just after my husband died I made a felt depicting a sunset over moorland and it had some of my wedding dress silk woven into it. It was very therapeutic to make . Ali x

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  7. What a gorgeous summery post, thanks Jacqui. Never tried a strawberry daiquiri before...may just give it a go. Bonnie x

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  8. A lovely post and some fab ideas, I am hungry now and need to find some strawberries :)

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  9. Now I am hungry! A wonderful post with so many ideas for enjoying one of the best treats in the world. I particularly like your last suggestion, with the illustration of that sweet child enjoying a strawberry... I have been thinking of you very much. Your current header speaks volumes, I think. Mid-night in Hebridean mid-summer? Darkness and light - always some light... I recently read a quote regarding grief, which basically said, in order to find the light, don't chase the setting sun, face the east and wait in the darkness for it to rise. Hope you don't mind me writing this. Keep enjoying the summer! X

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  10. A post full of lovely summerness ... is that a word?
    {Hugs} x

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  11. Thinking about you, Jacqui, and sending you love xxxxx

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