June 9, 2009

Strawberry Jam-Like Substance

I have a shiny new toy and it looks something like this:

That's right. Counter space. And a brand new stove. And a range hood. And heating elements that are level and don't cause sauce to go sliding around the pan. Did I mention the counter space?

My parents came up to help me move, and they gifted me, among other things, a gallon of strawberries, thus answering, once and for all, the age old question of "who gives someone a gallon of fruit?" with the apropos "my mom."

I really was grateful, but I had no idea what to do with a gallon of strawberries. I cut some up and put them on cereal. I covered some in white and milk chocolate and devoured them greedily. After that, I still had approximately 3.9 quarts left. So, I did the next best thing and made jam.

Well, sort of. Intimidated by the instructions on the back of the pectin box, I opted for the "no cook jam" pectin. It didn't help that I had just seen Mike Rowe attempt to make cranberry jam and burn himself roughly thirty-seven times.

I followed the recipe on the back of the package and crushed enough strawberries to produce 4 cups.

Aren't cut strawberries a thing of beauty? As you can see, the lighting is much better at the new place, even though I still have the same crappy camera.

Except, of course, in this picture.

Most people would have crushed the fruit in the blender, but I (stupidly) crushed it by hand with a meat tenderizer (What? I just moved in and couldn't find my potato masher!).

Crushing the fruit is the hard part. The rest is just stirring. According to the package, 4 cups of fruit should be sweetened with 1.5 cups of sugar (I used Splenda). I was a little leery of that number, since various recipes online suggested anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of sugar. In package recipes I trust, though, so I steamrolled through and it resulted in perfectly sweetened strawberry jam.

Again, sort of. The "no cook" pectin never really fully set, so it's almost like really thick strawberry mush. It's delicious, mind you (the wife, who claims to not like jam, likes it). And, with only three ingredients (fruit, Splenda, and pectin), it tastes exactly like fresh strawberries. But jam it is not, at least in the strictest sense of the word.

I'm still getting used to the kitchen and getting back into the habit of cooking and baking. The craziness of moving meant that I missed the last Daring Bakers challenge, as well as the first Daring Cooks challenge. This month's Daring Cooks challenge is right up my alley, though, so I'll be back with a vengeance in less than a week.

While I find my way around the new kitchen, I'll leave you with a very zen picture of a strawberry floating above it all.


  1. Hahaha... nice post. It goes without saying that I'm jealous of your kitchen. Mostly the fact that you only have to share it with Kim, but the counterspace looks nice too. :)

    I'm skipping town this weekend, but when I get back I will write you an email of appropriate length and depth.

  2. Your kitchen looks great. moving into a nice kitchen makes cooking so much more fun. good luck using up all the strawberries. i bought a gallon of strawberries a few weeks ago. i ended up making jam too. I did a stove top jam that was just strawberries and sugar.