Posted by Kate, guest blogger for Tom’s of Maine, Portland, Maine
Did you know that Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry Children’s toothpaste contains real strawberry juice? We asked local blogger Kate to share one of her favorite uses for yummy strawberries.
I completely support the idea of local eating, and I admire people who stick to a strictly local diet. But in Maine, a 100% local diet would mean no coffee, no red wine, no olive oil. And I just can’t have that.
But one thing I am very strict about when it comes to eating local is strawberries. I no longer waste my time with strawberries imported from far away places. Their white interiors and faint whiffs of sweetness only serve to remind of me of how good an in season, red all the way through, juicy local berry can be.
So I just wait until spring has sprung and the strawberry tables begin popping up on roadsides and the Portland Farmers’ Market has green paperboard cartons overflowing with red, ripe berries. And I snatch up a few quarts at $6 and eat them unadorned. Washed and straight from the carton. Maybe in some yogurt at breakfast, but mostly just as is.
When that novelty has worn off, and I begin to feel the looming end of the short Maine strawberry season (usually over by the 4th of July), I head to Maxwell’s Pick Your Own strawberry fields in Cape Elizabeth. Where I usually pick way more than I intend.
But few things are better than simple low-sugar strawberry jam, pulled from the cabinets in December or February. A taste will bring you back to warm June days, when your most pressing decision was which beach would be the least crowded or if the wind was blowing in the right direction to allow you to sail to that island in Casco Bay. Those imported berries at the supermarket will pale in comparison.
Simple is best when it comes to strawberry jam. The berries need only a little sweetener to fortify their flavor. Using Pomona’s pectinallows you to add very little sweetener and to experiment with honey. If you want to get a little more creative, wrap a few sprigs of lavender in cheesecloth and add while the jam is cooking. The herb will only further serve to remind you of the beautiful Maine summer you had.
Lavender Honey Strawberry Jam
4 cups mashed strawberries (about 2 quarts)
1/2-1 cup honey
2 teaspoons Pectin powder
2 teaspoons calcium water
3/4 cup fresh lavender, chopped and tied in cheesecloth
Wash, hull, and mash berries in a large bowl. Measure out four cups into a stockpot and add herbs in cheesecloth. Stir in calcium water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. While fruit is heating, mix pectin powder into honey until combined. Add to fruit and return to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove jam from heat and ladle into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace if processing.
To process, boil in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Otherwise, keep jam in the refrigerator and use within two weeks. Jam can also be frozen in freezer-grade containers (plastic or wide-mouth glass canning jars) and used within 1 year.
Yield: 4-5 8oz. jars
Kate McCarty lives in Portland, Maine and blogs about food and her Maine lifestyle at The Blueberry Files. When she isn’t eating out or cooking in, she’s sailing, canning, and teaching about food preservation.