After a LOOOONG, stressful day at work today, I made some more strawberry jam tonight before dinner. Just plain strawberry jam this time- nothing fancy. I know a few people had asked about the strawberry-kiwi recipe I made on Thursday. It was really just something I made up on the spot. I've had strawberry-kiwi blends of other things that were really tasty so I thought I'd try it. All I did was substitute one cup of diced kiwi for a cup of the strawberries in my recipe. It really isn't that noticeable but I think it makes it a tiny bit more tart.
I use the jam recipe from the booklet I got at our local Amish bulk food store. I have been buying my pectin in bulk there, so it's kind of hard to translate if you're using the boxed kind. Basically, it's 5 cups of stemmed, cut and crushed strawberries and half a cup of pectin. Stir constantly and bring to a rolling boil for a full minute then add 7 cups of sugar, keep stirring and bring to a rolling boil for another minute. Then put it into sterilized jars and seal with hot lids and rings. (this makes about 8 cups of jam) I'm probably bad that I do the old fashioned processing (invert the jar for 5 minutes then turn it back right side up and wait for it to seal) rather than the hot water bath that the USDA recommends. But my grandmother and my mother did it this way and I've never had problems with the old way- so that's what I do.
NOTE: I ONLY USE THE FLIP THE JAR METHOD ON JAM AND JELLY. IT WOULD NOT BE SAFE TO USE ON ANYTHING ELSE. I'M NOT EVEN SURE I WOULD USE IT ON LOW/NO SUGAR JAM AS THE SUGAR CONTENT IS A PRESERVATIVE IN ITSELF WHICH MAKES THIS A SAFE METHOD. THANKS NANCY FOR MAKING ME REALIZE THAT SOMEONE INEXPERIENCED MAY TRY TO CAN SOMETHING ELSE THIS WAY AND HAVE A HORRIBLE DISASTER. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE USE APPROPRIATE CANNING METHODS TO STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY!!
The elderberries are blooming like mad along the fenceline so maybe this year I'll finally try to steal some from the birds and make some jelly later this summer. That's something I've never done- but we've got a large patch on the fence line by the road and lots just over the fence along the creek by the neighbor's hay field (and it's hay again this year- hurrah!). And no, I'm not ashamed to climb the fence and take the neighbor's elderberries. They grow like weeds around here.
And it's raining! Hurrah! Last night we had a shower roll through- we got less than 0.05 inches. But it clouded up and started raining early this evening. When I went out to close the chicken coop we had just over 0.3 inches and it was still raining... A lovely, gentle rain. The nasty storms passed South of us, which is just fine by me, even though they probably got more rain than we did. I was a bit disheartened that yesterday morning on the local news they were showing the drought intensity map for our area. sigh.... we're nearly 3 inches behind in rainfall this spring. This rain will help a little but not much. I'm worried about our well- our well isn't very deep (only about 85 feet) and we've been noticing that as the dry weather continues our water quality is dropping. We're getting much more iron and calcium in the water. The water, even with the softener cycling regularly- is leaving calcium spots on things. I was worried my lids wouldn't seal on my jam jars just because of the calcium deposit from having them in hot water to soften the seal. And when the water tastes like blood because of all the iron you know it's bad. I worry that if this dry weather continues that our well will run dry. We don't really want to have to afford to have a new well drilled. I'm not sure if we could make that happen if necessary.
Tomorrow we start replacing the West window in the addition. We are replacing the rotting old window with one much larger and more energy efficient. While we're at it , we will be removing all the old drywall from that exterior wall, insulating and putting up new. Later, we will replace the door on the North side of the addition with a large window as well. We have found that we never use that door and think we will like the additional light of a large window much better than this windowless door that we don't use. I think this is one of the last demolition projects we've got planned. When we finally get that door replaced, we will remove the rotting stairs that are there and I can work on the shade garden that will be in that Northwest corner between the main house and the addition. Currently that area is a huge mess of weeds. but we have blocks to put in a patio off the new deck stairs and I picked up a pair of lovely hydrangea bushes (on discount at the 'end of the season' sale) that will go in back there along with some ferns and a few other shade tolerant plants. That area gets a bit of sun around mid day but between house shade in the morning and tree shade in the afternoon it's pretty dark.
But, now, because it's getting late and we've got many, many tasks ahead tomorrow I'm going to sign off. I don't have to head back to work until Wednesday (I'm taking my comp from working today on Tuesday rather than Friday) so hopefully I can get a few things accomplished besides helping with a new window.