Strawberry jam epic fail...

26 November, 2013

With the glut of strawberries I have been experiencing of late I had planned to start building up stocks of goodies that fit well into hampers that may come in useful around Christmas time in the type of hamper style gifts that I like to give.

So I decided one way of using up too many strawberries is Strawberry Jam.

Who doesn't like Strawberry Jam. Nobody, because it is fabulous.

So I went into the yard and rounded up a collander full of berries, including some slightly under-ripe ones as these make a slightly better jam. The slightly under-ripe berries are less likely to turn to mush, and I like a few still whole berries in my jam.


The berries were prepared by washing well and then chopping into similar sizes. I am getting a mix of small, medium and large berries.


So I left the baby ones whole, chopped the medium ones in half and anything larger into quarters.


Now my preferred jam making method is in the Thermomix. It is so easy!  I used the basic Strawberry Jam recipe in the book as a base.

500g strawberries
250-300g sugar, or jam making sugar, or added pectin
1 lemon, juiced
As I had slightly more than 500g strawberries, I upped the recipe accordingly.


Now the process is simple in the Thermomix.

I like to blend the sugar with the rind of the lemon, for an extra lemony kick.

This becomes...


... this in mere seconds.


Then take your de-peeled lemons, remove as much white pith as you can and cut into pieces.


Add to Thermomix.


Blend.


Now I have made Strawberry Jam before, and know the soft fruit needs a little jelling helping hand, so out came the pectin.


I never realised before that this was made by the Fowlers Vacola people. They say 1 sachet for 1.5kg strawberries, so I used half the packet.

Must not forget strawberries.


Cook according to the directions (100 degrees C for 30 minutes, speed 1).

Done.


Meanwhile, sterilise your jars. I do this by rinsing clean jars in very hot water, then putting in a 150 degree C oven for at least 10 minutes.

But before you decant your delicious jam into your sterilised jars, get out your secret ingredient. This is mine.


This stuff transforms even a very good Strawberry Jam to amazing heights. Truly. Try it.

I added about 1 tablespoon to my jam batch. Then it went into the jars.


I purposely made some very whole strawberry heavy, and others not so.


Now here comes the bad news. When it was all cool, it was evident that the pectin was not sufficient.


I do not like runny jam!

So I thought either I can put it on the stove and boil it longer where it may, or may not, properly set. Or I can admit defeat and call it Strawberry Sauce.

Strawberry Sauce it is!

Although I did sterilise some proper sauce jars and re-heat the jam in the Thermomix, while also giving it a blend so the sauce would be smooth, and then re-bottle it.


I left the strawberry-full jars as I quite like those.

So in the end, not quite Strawberry Jam, but still very delicious.


The texture of the blended sauce looks quite good.


Not quite what I had planned, but still should make someone happy on Christmas morning.

Morning meander...

24 November, 2013

It's been a little while since I did one of these, and on today's grey and drizzly morning in Melbourne I just couldn't get excited about heading into to the yard to do any of the multitude of tasks on my gardening to-do list. So I took my camera out and meandered a bit. This is what I came across:

Plaited garlic drying nicely under the varandah.

The step-over apples have set a heap of fruit. Yay!

Artichokes are going to flower. I can't keep up with them.

Peaches looking a bit wet.

But wait, whats this??!!

There are more!

Revenge!

Planted out zucchini's have survived. Beetroot seeds are coming up too! (I'm also remembering to label plants!)


My only remaining brassica's from my summer planting - Collards! Great for leaf by leaf pickings.

Radishes ready for eating. This is my favourite variety - French Breakfast.

The three remaining fennel seedlings have been well protected. I sowed about 100 seeds.The others all got eaten.

Wire column potatoes ready for some more soil.

Gifted tomatoes have flowers. They are way ahead of my self sown ones.

Basil seedlings (and weeds) coming up.

Cucumber seedlings have been planted out using my preferred method.

I should buy shares in a snail bait company, given how much I use. But it is effective!

Onion beds starting to look like there will be a decent harvest.

I have high hopes for some massive onions.

More raspberries than I can eat! I will attempt to get some into the freezer this year.

Strawbs have slowed a little with the cooler weather, but still cropping well.

Where have my pears gone?

There they are. Damn, no pears this year after all.

Parsnip going to seed.

Celery also.

Bean beds are coming along well.

I think this is the earliest I've ever had beans ready for eating.

And lastly, a pretty onion flower head.

It's a cruel world...

21 November, 2013

Note: this post contains pictures of dead animals. Do not read if you feel this may offend.

I have sad news. The duckling has died.

When I went out this morning to feed the ducks, I couldn't see the little one doing its usual running around. I was immediately worried. 

I had been a little concerned as last week the adult male ducks Bloom and Thal had started going after the little one. Just a few badly aimed nips, and Heston the mother duck had well protected the little one by keeping the boys at a safe distance. But I had read that male ducks can kill the ducklings, so I was concerned. I then put up some barriers in the duck pen dividing the pen in half so that the boys had their half and Heston and little one had theirs.


This seemed to work pretty well, although on the odd occasion I saw little one run into the boys' half and then run out pretty quickly.

Maybe this time it didn't run quickly enough.

So this morning when I went into the pen I couldn't see little one anywhere around mum as usual. And it didn't appear. I was hoping it might have just been under the duck house, or in some of the greenery.

But no, I found the little duckling body in the boys' half near the pond.


It was so sad.

I picked up his little cold body and smoothed out his wet little feathers and cried. I'm tearing up writing about it now.


It was the first time I held it.

I felt terrible. Could I have done something to prevent this? Smaller lattice to divide up the pen so little one couldn't have gotten into trouble, maybe.

I buried it in the corner of the garden where there are lots of green plants and snails and bugs it will never get to experience. I hope there are lots in duckling heaven. Not that I believe in that, but its a nice thought.

So to finish, here are some bittersweet pics of the little duckling doing its little duckling things.



So long little one. It was a joy to know you.