I suppose it’s only fitting that for my inaugural post about being a half-assed urban homesteader I should write about a failure.
On Sunday, my girl and my guy and I went strawberry pickin’. I suppose that’s yet another indication of my failings as a homesteader. I have a grand total of about six strawberry plants, which were given to me by a kind neighbor after I allowed the pernicious creeping buttercup to totally invade my old strawberry patch. But let’s be honest…even at my potential zenith of strawberry production there is basically no chance I’ll ever have enough to do something like make jam. At any rate.
We picked some strawberries. Quite a fair amount in fact. I learned some valuable strawberry pickin’ lessons too. (Pick under-ripe rather than over-ripe, because a night out on the stove ripened those suckers right up.) The goal was strawberry balsamic jam, an idea inspired largely by various meals I’ve had over the years but made possible by a recipe in my Ball book of preserving or whatever it’s called.
I’ve made jam once previously and it turned out, if I do say so myself, pretty stellar. And I felt that this jam was going to go well also. For once, instead of frantically trying to cram many hours worth of work into a very brief time period, I allowed myself a full afternoon. I assembled my mise en place, if you will, with all the equipment I thought I needed at hand. I turned on Radiolab.
I followed the instructions to a tee, TO A TEE I TELL YOU. Even though I thought I might use 4 full tablespoons of balsamic instead of the 3 to 1 of lemon the recipe called for, I thought better of it, checked the fridge, and lo and behold there was even a fresh lemon for my one tablespoon. I tasted the protojam. It tasted absolutely delicious.
Oh…I am just now remembering the one thing I didn’t do…I didn’t skim the foam off. Does that matter?
Well, whatever…the thing seemed perfect, so I was surprised, and frankly, a little disappointed when I opened the first jar this morning and discovered that what I put up was more of a…strawberry sauce with chunks in it than a jam. It’s totally delicious, so I’m not devastated. But it’s too much of a failure to give as gifts, and also my strangely picky girl told me, “I don’t like strawberry jam” when she saw it. Which is an outright lie! It looks as though I will be making some 3 year old friendly jam soon and eating weird strawberry sauce on my own (store-bought, because I am half-assed like that) bread for the next few years of my life.
*Pictures of failed jam to come. For now, revel in the beauty of fresh strawberries, all dressed up and ready for disappointment.