Strawberries

Sorry about the long pause in posting, but there is good news.  Thanks to Olga at the Hand Therapy Clinic i have recovered pretty much full use of my smashed hand/arm, and the turmoil level in my life has been downgraded to Beige, so here i am again.

The word of the day is Strawberries.  They are just gorgeous this year and i’ve made a couple of batches of jam with them.  For the first batch i used the Red Red Strawberry Jam recipe out of Joy of Cooking, but was less than pleased with the outcome.  I started complaining to Olga about the flaws, and her face lit up with delight because i brought back Russian childhood memories of her “helping” her babushka (бабушка) make this jam.  When i mentioned that the whole strawberries in it floated to the top two-thirds of the jar, she exclaimed she loved that about it.  And when she went on to talk about the delicious froth at the top that she would sneak fingerfuls of and that i had been thinking of as some kind of scum, i wisely shut up and handed her a jar.

So guess who’s going to get the lion’s share of that stuff.

Me, i was much more pleased with my first batch of regular strawberry jam that i made with a shredded apple, the juice of a lemon, and half (literally) the sugar of the Joy recipe, especially since i got it to set well.

But the real joy in strawberries this spring started a couple of weeks ago when Poli Yerena handed me a basket of little green strawberries and told me they were the hot new thing in condiments at the trendiest restaurants, a challenge i could not pass up.

So i tried cooking some in a simple syrup and was not impressed, but the rest i mixed with equal parts of chopped Pasilla chile, red onion, and cilantro for a really tasty salsa when moistened with one of my berry vinegars.   Still thinking about how i might jar that and still preserve the fresh taste.

Then he gave me another basket and i tried pickling them by putting them in 8 oz jars, tossing in a spoonful of mustard seeds, and pouring over them a boiling mixture of 2 cups cider vinegar, 3 cups water, and 3 T. salt.  Clap the lids on quickly and they seal.

Popped open a jar for a test this morning, and it wasn’t bad.  Maybe a little too salty, and the berries had softened noticeably, losing their crunch.  Still, encouraging.  So i picked up a couple of baskets and will experiment with replacing a bit of the salt with sugar, adding a tiny little Thai pepper, and to keep them crunchy adding a pinch of alum and pouring in the pickling fluid merely hot rather than boiling.

strawberriesStay tuned.

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