The strawberry season is in full spate, and this year’s crop looks very promising indeed. After abundant rainfall in the early spring and the recent string of warm, sunny days, our strawberry fields and gardens have filled with sweet, fragrant berries all ripening at the same time.
To collect the large crop while it’s in the best shape, the fruit farms in Slovakia invite the public to come and pick the strawberries themselves. In practice it means you’re allowed to enter the fields, eat as much as you wish, and you only pay for what you take away. You’re supposed to bring your own buckets or bowls, and pick all the strawberries in your assigned row.
Strawberries perish quickly, so you have to consume or preserve them really fast. They’re great in yoghurt, whipped cream, and all sorts of cakes. You can freeze them or make them into delicious jam. And that was what I had in mind when buying a basketful of the cheeky-red fruit from a local farmer. Besides, my supplies of home-made jam are dwindling.
Home-made Strawberry Jam
- 1 kg fresh, ripe strawberries
- 400 g granulated sugar
- Wash the jars and lids separately and let them dry off on a dishtowel.
- Remove the leafy tops from the strawberries. Check for any bruises or blemishes and either cut them out or discard the berry. Rinse the strawberries under running water and transfer into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir well into the berries. Cover with a lid or a dishtowel and let stand overnight in a cool place.
7. Fill each jar just below the rim, and screw on the lid while the jam is still hot. Let it cool at room temperature. A slight popping sound you hear in the cooling stage indicates that the lid has sealed well.
8. Put the cooled jars in the fridge if you prefer, but I usually keep mine in the pantry. Sugar is an excellent preservative, and if you use fresh, well-cleaned fruit and cook it to the right thickness, your jam will keep for quite a while. I recently finished a jar of Blackberry Jam made two years ago, and it was still in perfect condition.
As you can see in the photos above, we in Slovakia reuse jars from jam, honey or other preserves, like lemon curd etc. Instead of sterilizing them, we thoroughly wash the jars and lids after use, and leave them to dry off. Then we will keep them with their lids on in a cool, dark place. They usually sit on a specially assigned top shelf in our pantries.