Monday, July 14, 2008

Like Buttah

Sunday morning everyone felt lazy and Randy was sick so we had rye toast with strawberry jam and butter for breakfast. What could have been a boring breakfast was actually quite indulgent because both the butter and jam were homemade.

The butter was actually an afterthought in order to use up extra whipping cream. We had bought the cream to make our own whipped cream (to go with fresh picked strawberries) as an activity to entertain Randy’s ten year old sister. We didn’t really want more whipped cream so we decided to use the leftovers to make butter. Mom claimed she had made butter in elementary school by simply placing the whipping cream in a jar and shaking. So we shook…and shook…and shook some more. Dad was dubious after the cream got frothy and stayed that way for awhile but all of a sudden, it changed. It went from being a thick foam that coated the sides to beginning to clump. This is how you know the butter is ready, when it begins to clump and the liquid separates out.

After this we poured off the liquid (butter milk, which dad drank after some refrigeration) and put the butter in the fridge. Mom then had to squish and rinse it and now we have fresh unsalted butter! Although it may have been much more labor intensive, and probably more expensive then store bought butter, it was frugal in the sense that we used up the leftover cream.

The jam was a whole other fiasco. A local farm has pick-your-own strawberries so on a recent Sunday we ventured down there early (actually it was the first day of picking, the absolute best time to go, before they get picked over) and picked about five pounds of berries.

When we got home I began shucking the strawberries, and continued to do so for quite awhile. We decided to can four 8 oz. jars of jam. We began to cook the strawberries with the sugar, and we cooked it, and cooked it some more. We had a nice heavy bottomed pot so sticking wasn’t an issue but it still wasn’t passing any of the “gel tests.” (We were attempting all three the book recommended: temperature, the drip test and the plate test.)

Finally we just said f*** it and put it in the sanitized jars and sealed them and processed them. The next day when we checked them all the seals had worked perfectly. Although the jam didn’t quite gel it ended up thick enough that it works fine as jam. I think our mistake was not using as many under ripe berries as the recipe called for. Do not underestimate the importance of the under ripe berries! We ended up freezing most of the other strawberries which will probably end up being used in smoothies.

Despite our slightly ungelled jam, the breakfast was still delicious, although in the future, I think I’m going to make mom get up at 5 in the morning so we can have fresh baked bread too.

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