The yearly saving for the darker months of abundant fruit and vegetables, is something that can be traced back for thousands of years and I feel is a way for me to connect to my ancestors. Whether it is making jams, jellies, pickles or chutney, we can enjoy a taste of summer and benefit from the energy these plants contain.
So midsummer for me means strawberries….fresh picked and squeezed against the roof of my mouth bliss, or with cream, mixed in smoothies, sorbets, added to my breakfast chia porridge and of course JAM!
Our ancestors would have stood over a hot, boiling pot, stirring and getting splattered by hot jam until they cooked the vitamins out of it and it finally cooked down to a thicker consistency! They may have then found that adding crab apples to the ingredients, as these contain high levels of pectin, this is a naturally occurring substance (a polysaccharide) found in berries, apples and other fruit, reduced the cooking time. When heated together with sugar, pectin causes the thickening that is characteristic of jams and jellies. Today we can get pure pectin as a liquid or powder, also jam sugar which is sugar with the pectin already added.
The magical properties each jar contains are:
Preserving pan = cauldron – transformation, rebirth, comfort, conviviality, happiness, love, abundance
Wooden spoon = wand - directing my intention
Strawberries – love, fertility, luck, success
Lemon juice – happiness, uplifting, love, moon magic, purification, protection
Sugar – joy, love, making life sweet, protection
Pectin – stability, happiness, relationships
This is the recipe my mother taught me; these measurements make 5lbs jam:
2 1⁄4 lb (1kg) Strawberries
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
3 lb (1.4kg) Sugar
1⁄2 Bottle Pectin
Sterilize your jars. Heat oven to 275F/140C/120C fan/gas 1. Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely. If using mason jars, boil the rubber seals, as dry heat damages them.
Prepare the fruit, crush gently and put into a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Leave this, covered, for about an hour, to let the sugar absorb some of the juice.
Heat slowly, until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally, add a small knob of butter or margarine.
Bring to a full rolling boil and boil rapidly for 3 to 4 minutes (if the fruit is very ripe you need to boil for a longer time).
Remove from the heat, add the pectin, and leave to cool for 20 minutes to prevent floating fruit.
Skim, pot and cover.
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food by Rachel Patterson