Around The Puddles I’m using wild strawberries for groundcover, and they’re doing an excellent job at keeping weeds at bay; in fact I think I’ll try to propagate as many runners as possible to use elsewhere in the garden. They have pretty little flowers in spring, and these days they are covered with tiny red berries that are absolutely delicious; slightly more sour than regular strawberries,
Unlike regular strawberries, the wild variety has white flesh, and the red colour is only skin deep. This means that in order to retain as much of the colour as possible I added a dash of vinegar; the acidity helps bring out the colour in the berries, and the taste is easily masked by the sugar.
The traditional recipe is 1 part berries and 1 part sugar, but with modern jam sugar you can reduce the sugar content without sacrificing the preservation period, so I tend to use as little sugar as possible; only enough for the taste to be sweet and jam-like. I add some water as well, just so the jam won’t burn, and then I simmer it for an hour or so until the berries are completely mushy and liquid sets quickly on a cold spoon.
I sterilise the jars with vodka. I could have used boiling water, but I’ve previously had jars explode on me when I poured in the boiling water, so now I use a dash of cheap and nasty vodka that we have sitting in the kitchen after a party some years ago; it’s not really drinkable, but it works well as a household spirit for all sorts of practical/cleaning applications.
Sadly, though, we only just had enough wild strawberries to make a single small jar of jam. Not exactly industrial quantities, so I re-used to pot to make a jar of rhubarb jam as well; the rhubarb crop this year is rather disappointing, and I suspect I should really give the rhubarb some sort of fertilizer next year so it will have something to grow on.
Since slugs ate most of my beans and my peas seem to have died during an extended dry period in late spring, this might be the only food to leave my garden. (Okay, so there will most likely be a few pears and apples and plums as well, but you get the point.) The strawberry jam will come back to Copenhagen with me today and be presented to my Mother-in-Law as a hostess present when we go there for dinner on Friday, and the rhubarb jam will remain in the Summer House for future breakfasts or afternoon tea. It might not be much, but there’s definitely a certain satisfaction in preserving a little bit of summer in a jar. And who knows; maybe the raspberries will produce enough berries for another jar, and in autumn there will be wild brambles in the forest…