Canning and Preserving our harvests from year to year and season to season allows us to enjoy the same joys of one time to the next. Aside from the traditions of our families or through newly found practices, many have come to embrace our foodstory with the ways we make it last. I am relatively a novice with spunk. Canning and the preservation of food has always been a part of my life, since I was a girl. I participated in those long and arduous days, produce and our livestock had to be prepped for the long winter months. There was a position for every one of us. All the toils and efforts were worth every drip of sweat and sometimes tears, because I had made friends with the hogs, even given them names, silly little girl me. I knew that those were labors of love and provisions to sustain our family. Our family is comprised of generations of farmers and land holders. The efforts almost like the Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper and reminiscent of House Stark's mantra in Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming! Our Dad, in all his wisdom and hard work was definitely the Ant. Plus, we live in a rural and rough in the winter village, a far off land even, because our nearest town is 10 miles away, one way, one road really and the going most certainly got tough, if not impossible, at least by car.
I love traditional things, but I also like being inventive and having recipes I write include my personal expressions of who I am. This jam is one such offering. I infused this strawberry and blackberry jam with Sake and Cardamom. My sister Bonnie and I picked the blackberries on Sunday Morning together, down in a hollow, near their hunting cabin. This is also the place where I found my first Morel Mushroom, some years ago.
After we looked at the garden kept by Bonnie and her husband, checked the crawfish traps in the creek and admired their fish in the manmade pond, we set off to pick the blackberries that the birds and a very vigilant black bear hadn't eaten.
The day was heating up fast and the viable berries were mostly a memory. At least the bear did the dangerous job of making a path through the bush, laying the thorny, prickly and hurty tendrils or canes that held vibrant gems to each side, so we were able to get in closer to the treasures towards the back of the bushes. We ended up with about 1 pint, for which I was grateful and wanted them to have a most excellent outcome. We hope to catch the next flight of berries that for now, are but crimson, hard and unripe.
I ordered the Cardamom pods straight from Sri Lanka at the beginning of this year. I enjoy Cardamom. It is a must have for my Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pie
recipe, freshly ground with my Mortar and Pestle.
The aroma and flavor is fruit forward with warm, lemony notes, inviting and much brighter than pre- ground.
The following recipe is purely simple and delicious There are only a handful of ingredients, easy to acquire, and not requiring too much time. I didn't add pectin to this recipe either, the seeds have natural pectin that is released during the cooking and mashing process. After the hulling and slicing of the strawberries, the rest is smooth sailing. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did.
5 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled and trimmed of tops, larger ones cut in half or quartered, depending on size.
1c. pure cane sugar
1/2 c. Traditional Sake
6 Cardamom pods, in a small cheesecloth pouch
1 pinch of Himalayan Salt
Juice and peel of one lemon
Combine fruit, sugar and salt in a non reactive cooking vessel and let sit covered for 1 hour or overnight.
When ready, add remaining ingredients except Sake and bring up to a boil over medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed, non reactive saucepan or pot.
Once boiling, reduce to medium and cook for about 15 minutes.
Using a potato masher, press and mash the berries, but leaving some chunkiness for texture.
Cook until jam is reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes.
Add the Sake during the last 20 minutes of simmering to help retain the flavor.
Let sit in fridge overnight to thicken more after cooling at room temperature or add straight to canning jars as per instructions and method.
If you let it sit overnight, determine whether the desired thickness is reached , if not simmer a bit longer, 5 to 10 minutes more at a time and bring up to temperature and continue canning as per instructions.
Remove Cardamom pouch and large pieces of lemon peel before placing in jars.
Makes 12 half pint containers with enough left over for an 8 oz. jar to consume now!
Refrigerate ready to eat jar for up to 6 months.