My best friend Cyndi lives way too far away and has for the past 15 (is that right, Cyn?) years. This South Carolinian married her Finnish love and followed him to chilly Finland. And while you may be thinking, “Oh, Finland. I’ve always wanted to go to Helsinki,” that’s not quite where Cyndi lives. If you travel approximately 6 hours NORTH of Helsinki, you’d be close to their home. And although I’ve never been there (I know, I need to go), I have seen many photos and have concluded that it is absolutely beautiful. When there’s sunlight. Which is only part of the year.
Cyndi grows beautiful strawberries, so when I asked her to write something for the blog, she took some lovely photos of her fruits and jams. And while we are battling flu AND strep this week, it’s a perfect time for a guest post. Thanks, Cyndi!
One of the benefits of living at 64 degrees north is that I can walk outside and pick a variety of fresh berries and mushrooms straight from my garden and the surrounding woods: red and black currants, black chokeberries, wild blueberries, and raspberries. Because my husband cannot live without strawberries, we have a very large patch, approximately 40 plants! While this year I left the mushrooms alone in the hope that next year I will be more motivated, I was somewhat industrious and managed to pick and make strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and lingonberry-raspberry jams.
For those of you who don’t know, lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is a shrub in the flowering plant family Ericaceae, and the berries are served in a variety of forms here: as jam, mixed raw with sugar and served as a condiment with elk or game, and cooked into a delicious juice concentrate which is mixed with water and eagerly drunk with (almost) every meal. If you don’t have any lingonberry bushes right outside your backdoor, head to an Ikea and look around their food section.
The jam recipe I use is taken from my grandmother’s church cookbook from the 1960s. It’s simple and universal and any type of “juicy” berry will work. Excellent instructions (and video) regarding canning your jam can be found here. Also, I like to play around with the recipe somewhat, reducing the amount of sugar or adding grated ginger or orange peel for variety.
from foodie friend Cyndi
- 4 cups of berries
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine berries and sugar. Let stand until berries start to render their juices.
- Bring the saucepan of berries to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will bubble up, rising high up the sides of the saucepan. Skim off any foam.
- When the jam has boiled down (you will see smaller, thicker bubbles), test the consistency by dipping a spoon into the mixture and letting it cool. When jam has cooked to consistency you want, stir in lemon juice.
- Turn off the heat, and ladle or spoon jam into prepared canning jars, leaving a bit of space before putting the lid on.