In my family, I’m known as a little crunchy. I know. It’s hard to believe, especially since I’m the city girl who wears all black all the time and doesn’t even own rainboots. But behind the stilettos and city attitude is someone who grew vegetables in her backyard and put up jams, pickles, relishes, sauces and more for years. Back in Connecticut, there were whole cabinets in my kitchen devoted to the foods I’d store for winter, and bags full of all manners of frozen homegrown fruits and vegetables ready for those cold, dark days.
I wish I still canned as much as I used to. Some days, that feels like an entirely different season of my life — and perhaps it was. Back then, I had property and raised beds and worked at home, all of which made long hours of making and putting up totally doable.
When I moved from Connecticut last year, my canning supplies didn’t move with me. It was an uncomfortable decision. But it had been nearly two years since I’d canned anything, and it didn’t make sense to move the supplies again. So instead, I donated them. I hope someone poking through the aisles at Goodwill found my supplies with glee and took them home to make and can their own delicious food stuffs.
Even though canning isn’t something I do anymore, my kids miss the things I used to make. They often mention the pickles and jams that used to be readily available.
Fortunately, all is not lost. Though my gardening is now limited to containers on the porch (my tomato plants have flowers as of this weekend!), I can still do some small-batch canning using locally grown produce. This recipe is a great example of that.
This small-batch Easy Strawberry Lemon Refrigerator Jam can be whipped up with yields from a strawberry picking adventure (it’s strawberry season!). Its sweet-tart flavor is delicious spread on toast, and makes a mean PBJ. It’s also perfect for dolloping into thumbprint cookies. This jam takes about an hour to make, but is worth every second. You simply combine the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer. But a word to the wise: Be sure to stir it frequently, as it will burn if left unattended.
I don’t know if I will ever really grow vegetables like I used to again. The idea of owning a big property, and maintaining raised beds doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. But I am glad that I can hang onto little bits of what was in new ways.
- 2 cups halved fresh strawberries
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45-60 minutes, or until thick, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer to containers and cool. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.