First I must apologize to those who have sent submissions to affinity. I was busy with a lot of things and I completely forgot to check that e-mail address for over a month by now. And one of those things I was busy with were (are) strawberries.
Last year I had a successful strawberry harvest, we got slightly over 8 kg of strawberries. So this year I have decided to take a lax approach to my strawberry patches and not spend too much time on them. I have removed some of the old leaves and overgrowth from last year, I tossed some crushed reed stalks between them, and that was it. No replanting or similar. About one day’s worth of work in between repotting my bonsai trees. When the strawberries began to bloom, I thought it looks promising and I estimated that this year’s harvest might be even slightly higher than last year, like 12 kg or so.
Boy was I wrong. Very ronk.
For over a week by now, I spend just shy over an hour picking strawberries, then laying them down on a windowsill to finish ripening (this reduces the ants and slugs damage significantly, and they also become more aromatic that way). Then I had to weigh and clean them and put them in the freezer where they slowly accumulated to a dangerous degree. With 1-2 kg of strawberries daily, the freezer got filled up in a week and was threatening to burst. I had to play Tetris every time I wanted to take a popsicle out of there. It looked like I would have to stop doing everything else for a few days and start making marmalade.
Luckily my mother returned from the hospital last week. She has reduced mobility in her right leg, but she does not have the intensive pains she used to have anymore and thus is relatively fit. So she could start making marmalade. preventing me from getting to be totally overwhelmed by the red menace. For a few days now she is every day using up all the freshly collected strawberries and she even managed to take a few bags out of the freezer already. Approximately 4 kg strawberries go into this huge pot together with some other sekrit ingredients.
Today’s worth of work is several huge marmalade jars filled to the brim. And on the right side of this picture you can see the up-to-date tally – 18724 g! Nearly 19 kg, so with what I see in the patches from my windows, today evening we should cross 20 kg harvest easily. That is officially insane.
When the jars cool, we check whether the lid created a proper vacuum seal or not, and those that did get labeled and go into the cellar. You can read the secret ingredients on the labels if you wish. I do not know the exact proportions, I think my mother has them written somewhere. Other than these, she also adds pectin and Aronia juice (which makes the marmalade less sweet and gives it a slightly darker color).
So I expected to have about 50% higher harvest than last year, instead, I got 150% higher one and still counting. We have enough marmalade to last us for years at our normal consumption rate (which is about a spoon a day). I am this year spending significantly more time harvesting than I have spent actually caring.
I am slowly starting to wish they would stop so I can do other things with my time, like being lazy.
It might make sense to interview your mother this month on her exact proportions of ingredients.
Maybe she has fine-tuned them, or maybe her old notes have been damaged or lost, or maybe she might forget. She could easily be very glad next year if you have written the recipe down somewhere handy for her. Happy marmalade!
Homemade strawberry jam is the best!
Ice Swimmer says
Wow. Both for the harvest and the marmalade/jam, which is on another level judging by the recipe.
I remember this one year, there were a lot of (overripe) strawberries and the farmer, from whom we rented our summer cottage carried them to my grandma who made a lot of juice out of them, using a steam juicer.