Latest news from the strawberry jam front – the wave of strawberries is advancing, threatening to engulf me in a wave of strawberries waiting to be processed, taking up entire shelves of the fridge, lurking in corners when I thought I had done the previous batch. Heaving a sigh of relief as the final pot is sealed and filled, I turn around only to find the kitchen table groaning under a fresh sea of freshly selected berries waiting to be sorted.
There is not any more room on the larder shelves for jam – what I’ve got there already will probably last us a decade in the current rate of consumption, I’ve used up all the jam jars and’m down to strangely shaped mustard jars, coffee jars and outsized sauce jars and there are still a fantastic few weeks of strawberry season to go.
I have to begin selling the jam….memories of a movie, where ex-city career woman, Raccoon Removal, moves to state with baby in tow, starts making apple puree baby food and ends up with a complete scale business employing half the village, flit through my head. Country baby was her label, with a cute picture of baby, made to appeal to other city people looking for the good life. Mind you she was a PR person, so had a head start on promoting things and I’m not a business person in any way, just someone with too much jam in their hands, larder shelves and everywhere else in the house.
I discover a few things – people smile when they see strawberry jam, people like berries, there’s a high feel-good factor about them, they conjure up summer and treats and celebration. It’s not a difficult product to market, people are predisposed in its own favour; the cost just has to be not too scary. Some people are more attracted by the pretty fabric covers on the lids and select one to match their kitchen décor…I’ll have to work on the pretty facet. No I am not about to become a strawberry shake millionaire, but I did sell ten jars.
After thinking I had got the jam consistency sorted, producing reliably runny but not too runny jam, I suddenly turned out several batches which place completely – thick solid stand-up-your-spoon-in jam. I did leave it soaking in the sugar longer since I didn’t get round to cooking it until the day, but does this do anything to pectin levels?
Anyhow, I now have two kinds of strawberry jam – thick and runny, both possess a fantastic flavour – and both sorts have their aficionados. But now the dilemma is, am I able to replicate the thick jam to order or will it just happen by accident? We are a long way from scientific laboratory controlled conditions here…. A wing and a prayer is more like it. So prayer it’ll have to be, if my market customers return demanding thick strawberry jam!