At some point every May, I take mental stock of what we have going on in the coming weeks so I can find the day, most likely on a weekend, when I can make the strawberry jam. This pondering normally begins when I see my first pint of local strawberries, my tell-tale sign that it is summer, or close to it. And because of all that mental work, I knew that if it was going to happen at all this year, it would have to be this past weekend.
But, at the same time, I wasn't convinced that I needed to make it happen. The strawberry crop was hit with a bunch of rain in April and the beginning of May, making the fruit slow to start. My favorite u-pick farm closed their fields to pickers. Big bummer and no fun. And I am pretty sure we have *just* enough in the freezer to get through the year, although I was really too lazy to actually take inventory. I was willing to gamble. And then on a whim, we went to the farmers market on Saturday. Yeah, you guessed it. Eight quarts of strawberries purchased. I made the jam.
It's a yearly ritual at this point and why I thought I wouldn't do it is really beyond me. It's kind of like planting bulbs in the fall, or in my case, the good intent to plant said bulbs. Every spring, I swear I am going to plants hundreds of daffodils. By October, I am so. over. gardening. that. I. cannot. bear. to. plant. anything. at. all. Come spring, I curse myself and swear I'll do it this year. Cross my heart. But then it's rinse and repeat, doesn't happen. It's the same, but opposite with the jam. Every year, I think I am going to take a break and live on my reserves and Bonne Maman. But no. I do it. I get the strawberries. And the sugar and the pectin. Or Fatty does, as it happened this year. Regardless, I make the jam. I always do.
Strawberry freezer jam is a taste that takes me right back to my childhood. It's just as much a part of me as, say, red hair and freckles. Really. I think the only time in my life when it wasn't in my refrigerator was when I was in college, living far from home and the chest freezer full of jam. And, by now, you'd think that I'd realize that I can't not have it around and just go on planning to make it. But I think the making of the jam is kind of like strawberry season – it comes fast, hits hard and is gone before you know it. It appears to be that way for me – I made five batches in record time this year.
The sweet, sticky mess was made lickety split and, just as fast, was all cleaned up. The only thing I have to remind me is the 14 pint jars of glorious, sweet, red jam sitting in my freezer. Jam that will bring the taste of summer to my mouth some blustery autumn afternoon or snowy winter day. And when the spring rains start coming, and I am eating jam, I'll realize that May is just around the corner. The thinking will begin. The strawberries will call and I will make jam.