I love making Jelly. What a terrific way to capture the tastes of Summer in a jar. I started making jelly when I was a little girl. I would help my mother pick the first summer strawberries, and we would make delicious jam.
Our strawberries grew wild, by the edge of the woods, we lived in a house on property on top of a mountain in Western Maryland where my mother’s family had lived since 1720….who knows where those strawberries came from but they were teeny tiny and very, very sweet.
She would make the jam and can it in quilted jelly jars and pour hot wax over the top. Back then, where we lived, jelly jars were small, narrow glasses, some of them had pretty graphics printed on them, others, had fancy quilting and some were just plain. They were sealed with wax, topped with some cotton batting and then covered with a piece of fabric and tied.
We traded our extras with our Mennonite neighbors and it was always a treat to taste what they made.
Our closest neighbor, Van, who lived over the hill, had an old farm house with a pump in the kitchen and a wet sink and a dry sink. The wet sink was made of carved soap stone and the dry sink was made of wood. I loved to visit her and pump water in the kitchen, she was very sweet and always wore black shoes, floral dresses, a clean apron and a little white cap trimmed with lace.
Van made the best pickles which we traded for some strawberry jam.
Yesterday, I did a demonstration at the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market. It was a lot of fun. The day was beautiful and I made Strawberry Jam with Black Pepper and Mint. This is a variation of a classic French recipe that I love. The french version takes 3 days to make, mine takes about 20 minutes.
We started with fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half. To these we added the juice of one lemon and a box of pectin. Pectin comes from sour apples or citrus rind and is completely natural and ok by me to use, its not chemicals and completely necessary for some types of fruits to jel. Stirring, I bought this to a boil and added sugar. I cooked the whole thing until jelly stage and turned off the heat. I added some chopped mint an d a dash of black pepper, stirred and let it sit one minute.
I ladled everything into modern 3 pc. jelly jars which I steralized at home, wiped the rims and inverted the jars.
Strawberry Jam was Born…..
Robert from the market invited us back to make pickles, so stay tuned for some bread and butter slices….recipe from my old Mennonite neighbors.