I've had a fairly lousy week and I have been feeling rather sorry for myself and depressed. So to combat the blues, I decided to make strawberry jam - which didn't jell and I practically destroyed the kitchen in the process.
Rather than continue to feel sorry for myself today, I will recant the tale, link a book from amazon.com, and perhaps give you a chuckle.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased these two books from amazon.com and I love them both. The first is Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More and the second is called Make Your Place: Affordable & Sustainable Nesting Skills. Both are right up my alley.
Last Saturday I had some success in canning peaches, so I decided to turn a frozen bag of strawberries into strawberry jam and can that as well. The recipe clearly stated that if you boil the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice long enough, it will jell on it's own. My friends, my jam did not. (Later I was told by my aunt about a delightful little product called Sure-Jell.)
I let the strawberry/sugar mix sit and coagulate in a bowl for a couple hours and then put it in a saucepan and started to boil it. I watched and watched and watched......
Then I saw an ANT on the floor and two of my cats started going after it. I started laughing and grabbed my cell phone to record video. I did that for exactly 23 seconds, and then I heard "sqwooooshhhhhhhhhh!!!!" from the stovetop, followed by the smell of scorched fruit.
Well, I decided not to leave my post again after that, no matter how cute the children were being. I stirred and watched and stirred and watched and the mixture thickened and so I tested for jelling by putting a small amount on a plate that had been sitting in the freezer for a couple hours. No jelling.
So the answer to that dilemma is to boil for 5 more minutes. So I did. And tried again, and still no jelling, but it was better that time. So I boiled some more and then just put the mixture into the jars and processed them. Imagine my "surprise" this morning when I found that it hadn't worked or come close to jelling whatsoever. In fact, I am pretty sure my brain is more the consistency of jelly than that strawberry jam is. At least my jars are properly sealed. I know that I can at least seal a jar to preserve food for a few months!
I'm not discouraged yet. I'll try again with something else soon. I have plans to make apple butter and peach lavender butter, grape jelly in September when the grapes are ripe at my dad's, and tomato sauce when the Romas are ripe. Like I said, I know how to seal a jar - the stuff in the jar is simply a matter of consequence.
Someday I might actually work my 'real job'. But not this week. :)