What do you do with over-ripe fruits?
It has been well documented that Americans waste a lot of food. I am certainly guilty of that. With my renewed consciousness of wasting less, I look for constructive, nutritious and delicious ways to use scraps, trims and over-ripe foods.
Also, June is the month when strawberries naturally ripen. They will be at their sweetest. Be sure to ask the Produce Manager at your local supermarket for their over-ripe strawberries. The price will be deeply marked down.
So, what do I do with strawberries that will surely spoil if not eaten? I make jam. What do I do with the liquor that results from stewing strawberries? I make syrup.
2 Cups Over-ripe Strawberries.
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
I start out with the over-ripe fruit, in this case, strawberries. I hull the strawberries, cut in half and place in stock pot.
Add the sugar and water to pot.
Turn flame to high until mixture comes to a boil, then lower flame to a simmer. Cook approximately 30 minutes, or until you can easily mash berries with a potato masher. Mash until the mixture has pulp, or use a hand blender if you want more of a smooth texture.
Taste to make sure the jam is sweet enough. Remember, over-ripe fruit will sweeten naturally. You shouldn’t need more than a cup of sugar, but that’s up to your taste buds.
You may have noticed that I add no other spices. The delicious taste of the strawberries speak for themselves. Spices will mask the natural flavor of the berries.
While mixture is still hot, pull into a sterilized boiling hot mason jar, as if canning. (Please refer to my post on canning fruit.) Place the hot lid on jar. After about an hour of placing the lid on the jars, you will hear popping sounds coming from the jars. This is expected. After the jar “pops,” you will notice that the lid is now concave, meaning all of the air has been eliminated and the vacuum-pack seal is now in place. When you open the jar, you will notice the resistance of the tight seal…you will hear a similar pop when you lift the lid. The jar must be refrigerated after it is opened. Because of the lack of preservatives, the jam will not have the shelf life of the store-bought alternatives.