When I was 8 we met my mother's Aunt Frances for brunch at a French restaurant. Aunt Frances was a very distinguished woman who never seemed to age in all of her 90-something years. She would offer you a cocktail upon entering her Upper East Side apartment (even if it was barely 11 am) and she wore her black hair in a chignon until the end. I still remember that brunch-- eating a hot baguette spread with butter and strawberry jam with my chin barely above the crumb covered white tablecloth. It tasted like magic-- and somehow this simple combination of flavors and textures continues to taste like magic even now. —iuzzini
5 half pints
hulled sweet strawberries
sugar (this will still be quite sweet depending on the sweetness of your berries- start at 4 cups and add more if your berries are super tart- as you cook the jam, you can freeze a bit for a minute and then taste it to see if you need more sugar)
Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a pot over medium-high heat.
If you are going to can them, boil water in a large pot and place your clean jars and lids in the pot to simmer (place the metal rings on the bottom of the pot so the jars don't touch down)- Let them simmer for at least 15 minutes or according to the directions on your jars.
Stir your berry mixture and if desired, mash some of your berries using a potato masher or something else that will do the job.
Boil the mixture until it starts to thicken- about 45 minutes. You can skim the light pink foam off and reserve it in a measuring cup- then skim that liquid and reincorporate the strawberry syrup back into the pot (or enjoy the syrup over pancakes or french toast or ice cream or . ..).
To test the preserves to see if it's ready, put a dish in the freezer until it's cold and then put a drop of preserves on it-- Pop the dish back into the freezer for 2 minutes and when you take it back out, if it wrinkles when pressed, it's done. Also, if the mixture coats the back of the spoon and drips off like honey, it's ready.
Carefully remove your jars and lids from the boiling water and drain them. Fill each jar with preserves leaving 1/8-1/4 inch of space at the top. Clean the lip of each jar with a clean towel and then place the lids on top. Screw the rings on until just tight.
Place the jars back in the boiling water (put more rings at the bottom of the pot or use a vegetable steamer or something so that the jars don't touch the bottom of the pot) and boil them for 15 minutes. Take them out of the water (CAREFULLY) and let them sit for 24 hours without touching them.
Check the lids to make sure they are properly sealed.
Enjoy with some butter on a piece of great bread. Think about being little. Think about your Aunt Frances.