Before They Go Bad

My really ripe strawberries were threatening to go bad, and quickly.

I threw a bunch of jars in the dishwasher on sanitize, and grabbed my already sanitized fermentation bucket. I knew that was going to take a while, so it made little sense to start on the jam quite yet. I did throw a big pot of water on the boil for canning. That will take some time to get heated. Time to start the next wine.

I filled a jug with a gallon of water, just to have the quantity set aside. I grabbed the juicer/blender thingy, and threw some of the water in along with 10 ounces of pitted dates. To that I added ~4 pounds of strawberries, following the same procedure (add water in the blender, add fruit, blend, pour into bucket). Oh, did I mention there was a bag in the fermentation bucket to hold all the blended solids?

Anyway, to that I added 2 pounds of agave nectar (blended with water, as well) in place of what would normally be sugar or honey. I then added my smidgen (1/20 tsp.) of potassium metabisulfite, 1 tsp. of yeast nutrient, 1/8 tsp. of wine tannin, and 1 tsp. of acid blend. I then tossed in the rest of the water and tied off the bag. Little bit of stir and push down with a sanitized spoon, top bucket with lid and air lock, and we are set to wait 12 hours. All that activity just to wait…

So if you didn’t catch that, the next batch is a strawberry-agave wine, with dates to add a “spice” note, if not some additional body. Wife not being fond of strawberry wine; I’m thinking 1 gallon for this experiment is plenty. I haven’t used agave nectar before, but tasting it suggests somewhat of a smoky-sweet note. We’ll see what we get!

That all taken care of, jars nearly done, and water on to boil, I turned to the strawberries for the jam. I had about  five pounds, same as the last batch, but I’d say they were in much worse shape than before. I carefully sorted through while chopping them, removing bad spots (and berries). Still ended up with a quite a panful. The end result indicates that there was still plenty of strawberry to go around, I might add. Berries chopped, I threw them onto the heat wit a 1/4 cup of lemon juice, smashed with the potato masher as the heat rose, and finally tossed in the now 8 tbsp. of pectin combined with 1/2 cup of sugar. You may remember that my last batch had a less than perfect set with 7 tbsp. I’m upping it just a little.

In any case, heated to full bubble, tossed in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar, and then reheated to a full rolling boil. After a full minute cooking at that boil, I removed it from the heat. There was a lot more foam this time (which is actually quite tasty, though an odd texture), more than last time, for sure. I used the spatula to get rid of the foam (well, to get it off the jam) and then set to filling jars. Eleven jars later (same as before…), and scraping the bottom, I found I wasn’t going to have the “sample” I did before which allowed me a feel for the set. Ah, well. It wasn’t terrible before, and should be a bit better this time, I’d think. I canned as before, 10 minutes in the water bath, and then set aside for 24 hours.

That’s it for tonight!

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