Sara Ward on Living the Good Life – June 2024

Midsummer Strawberries

Guest blog by Sara Ward

Dearest Gentle Reader, I have heard a secret that I simply must pass on to you – apparently, the abundance of rain (that I’ve been apologising for over recent months) is following the sports scheduling!

I’ve heard, on good authority, that it will continue to be ‘wet for the football’ then transition to ‘dry and sunny for the tennis’. We’ll have to wait and see, but as a gardener, I know that the water encourages the grass and weeds to grow, but there’s not quite enough warmth to boost the home grown fruit and veg.

Fortunately, the sunshine that we had back in March kickstarted the perennial fruits so figs and peaches are welcoming the rain to swell their offerings high on the trees and lower down, hidden under their lush green leaves, are strawberry treasures – bang on time, as always, for a June celebration.

On a glorious day, fresh strawberries warm in the sunshine need only a trickle of cream for a decadent treat, but if you find them in abundance (and would rather shelter in a warm kitchen) grab your biggest pan and make some jam.

Once potted up in sterilised jars, you can save it for an afternoon tea in the garden – or if my weather predictions are wrong, serve it with a warming rice pudding!

Ingredients:
(Makes 5 x 12oz jars)

1 kg strawberries, rinsed
1 kg granulated sugar
2 lemons

Method:

1. Remove the stalks from the strawberries, quarter them, and place in a large preserving pan. Sprinkle on the sugar and the juice from the lemons, reserving the lemon skins, pips and flesh.
2. Boil the reserved lemon pieces in enough water to cover them for 10 mins.
3. Meanwhile, gently warm the strawberries, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer.
4. Strain the lemon water through a sieve into the strawberries and press the pulp through with a wooden spoon – this is high in pectin to give the jam a good set.
5. Bring the jam to a high foaming boil and bubble rapidly for 15 minutes until setting point is reached.
6. Leave the jam to stand in the pan for 20 minutes to cool a little and allow the berries to settle; then pot in sterilised jars, seal and label.

Top tips for a perfect set:

1) Wait – until you have a high foaming boil
2) Watch – until the bubbles thicken and darken
3) Wobble – a drop of jam on a spoon
4) Wrinkle – a drop of jam on a cold saucer

If you want to be extra certain – we take our jam to 105c

Whatever you do with your strawberries – enjoy them whilst they are in season and at their best!

Coming up at Hen Corner:

 June:
Wednesday 26th Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London

July:
Wednesday 3rd Introduction to Making Bread
Wednesday 24th Introduction To Scandinavian Baking
Tuesday 30th Bees For Children (Family Course)

All courses can be found at HenCorner.com

Follow us on social media @HenCorner

Sara Ward is the owner of Hen Corner and author of Living the Good Life in the City: A journey to self-sufficiency

Hen Corner is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering discounts on her courses and on her book Living the Good Life in the City.

See her Club Card offers here: Hen Corner Club Card offers

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