About a month ago, I went to hear Marisa McClellan of www.foodinjars.com speak at a book signing in Memphis. She did a canning demo, and it was great fun for the small audience. Her latest book is all about small batch canning, which is very appealing for various obvious reasons, namely the lack of storage and lack of jam eaters in my house. But it would also enable me to experiment more freely. If something doesn't go right, I'm only throwing away a couple pints, as opposed to a couple quarts. I tucked away all of her tips and waited until strawberry season, which was very late this year.
[Side note on strawberry season: It's the best I've seen in at least five years. Go now, Memphis, because it won't last much longer.]
I experimented several years ago with cooked jam with little luck. It requires a ton of sugar, and when you cook it, the strawberries lose a lot of their integrity. Also, I just prefer the flavor of freezer jam. So I've been a religious freezer every year since. (Here's a post on jam freezing from 2012.) With Marisa's tips in hand though, I was ready to try some small batches of cooked jam.
I first cooked the honey sweetened recipe found here. And NO DICE! All four half pints were immediately dumped. I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was sickeningly sweet and never really came together like jam should.
Next, I tried the strawberry rhubarb rosewater jam, and this one looks and feels a lot more like jam, but the rosewater tastes like soap to me. Maybe it was brand issue with the rosewater, or maybe I just don't like rosewater, but I will not be making that again. One positive did come of this experiment. It was my first foray into rhubarb, and I have to say, I'll be inviting him back to my house next season. Delightful!
Here are some pictures of the process:
Final product, you are beautiful, but you taste like sh*t.
So, what did I do with the rest of my berries? Freezer jam, of course!