Few things in life can truly compare to the taste of the first ripe strawberries of the season. Strawberries were the first crop I ever grew and sold on my own. They own a special place in my heart, I'm sure that's what makes them taste that much sweeter to me. When I was 6 years old with the help of my father and brothers I planted my first patch of strawberries with the goal to sell enough strawberries to take a family vacation to Disney. I used my little brothers red wagon to set up a produce stand at the end of our farm lane to market my berries to the neighbors. I could be found on the weekends peddling strawberries at my brother little league ball games much like the Beer Man at the O's games. When I think of Disney I will always think of the Strawberries that got us there.
Earliglow Strawberries were my favorite berry when I was 6 and they still are today. They are a June bearing variety meaning they produce one large crop of berries in the spring. I find in Delaware mine are ready to pick mid May. The berries are smaller then the varieties that you find in the grocery store but packed with so much flavor they are well worth the smaller size. This variety is normally ending its harvest about the same time other June bearing varieties start to ripen, you can extend your harvest by planting a second June bearing variety. I like to use Jewel as my second variety. I personally have never had luck with Day Neutral Strawberries (they produce all summer) so I stick with June bearing.
This is an old Strawberry Jam recipe my father made that was taught to him by his Grandmother Anne. My father swears that to make good jam you must make it in small batches. I break this rule all the time and triple the recipe, so go ahead. Back in Great Grandmothers day the peels of green apples were used instead of commercially produced pectin, I find store bought pectin to be easier to deal with and more consistent. Strawberries must be picked ripe and have no white tips this is a must to make good jam. Strawberries from the grocery store will not make the best jam so if you don't grow your own strawberries buy them from a local farm that picks them ripe. The amount of sugar is a range. I find with my own Earliglow strawberries I can use a lot less sugar. Slowly added the sugar and give it a few minutes to dissolve, taste and added more until you get the sweetness you prefer. I added Balsamic Vinegar to brighten the flavor of the berries. If your unsure about adding it, leave it out you will still have a great jam. When I make jam to sell I make it both ways, with and without but I prefer the batches with.
- 2 Quarts of Strawberries Rinsed and Hulled
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- 6 Tablespoons Classic Pectin (I like Ball Brand)
- 3.5 to 7 Cups Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon high quality Balsamic Vinegar or Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Need ideas on what to do with the foam? Toss in a blender with Ice, Rum and Strawberries for a Daiquiri. Add it to a fruit smoothie or top plain yogurt with it.
Grandma Mary Jane's Strawberry Frosting
My Grandma Mary Jane always made this frosting during strawberry season with fresh picked strawberries from her garden. The recipe was passed down to her from her Aunt Mame. Throughout May and June this cake could be found in my moms refrigerator in a metal 9 by 13" baking pan that had a metal lid that slid open and closed. A butter knife was always left in with the cake so we could sneak into the fridge at anytime and cut off a piece. My brothers birthday is right at the end of the strawberry season and my mother would make a white layer cake with this as the frosting for his birthday cake.
This is frosting great on white, yellow, chocolate or lemon cake.
A Note about Raw Egg Whites: The FDA recommends only cooking foods containing eggs thoroughly to prevent illness from bacteria. Pasteurized in shell eggs can be substituted for the raw egg white.