Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beautiful Losers

a beautiful failure
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

It's not often that I admit defeat in the kitchen. Thankfully, I've gotten to the point where it's not often that there's cause to, but every once in a while...

This was supposed to be a sun-dried strawberry jam, as featured in Chez Panisse's Fruit book. You can find a link to the recipe here. I followed the directions exactly and... Well, in this recipe, the strawberries are cooked briefly with sugar and then left to "dry" in the sun until the syrup thickens into a jam. Apparently, this method results in a particularly flavorful jam, one that truly does justice to the quality of the fruit. I left my concoction out for several days, in full sun, and the syrup got no thicker. I'm not sure what the problem was, but it may have had to do with the relative humidity here the week I made this jam, as opposed to in Berkeley. Whatever the case, by the fourth day I started to fear for my perfect berries. I strained the syrup, added pectin, which I never do, and cooked it to a jell stage. I then added the strawberries and put it into jars.

I added a bit too much pectin. When you hold the jam upside-down, it doesn't even move. We are eating it now, and it's okay, but I can't help but think about what could have been, and what I thought would be. If anyone has had luck with that recipe, please let me know.


Just to set the record straight: yes, the jam is a little firmer than I've become accustomed to around here, but it's hardly just "okay." The strawberries + the hybrid method still resulted in one of the best strawberry jams I've ever tasted. Maybe even the best.



Ana said...

The idea of cooking the syrup to a jell stage and then adding the berries seems very interesting to me. I'll try it that way which , I think, will probably give the most "fruit-flavoured" jam outside of the non-cook variety. Maybe you invented something new?

michelle said...

Ana, thanks for your comment. I did it that way in order to avoid over-cooking the fruit. It looks pretty with the whole berries suspended in the jelly. Good luck with your experiment.


Anonymous said...

I never heard such a thing as a
"beautiful failure" --- then again, could it be that it was the recipe featured in Chez Panisse Fruit book ?!!