Saturday, June 17, 2006


One shelf in my kitchen cupboard is almost entirely devoted to jams, mostly homemade.

Raspberry, triple raspberry, peach, pear-pine nut, blueberry, black raspberry and chocolate mint, rose jelly –- nearly ten jars of jam perch on that high shelf.

The thing is, I love to try new jam combinations and to give jars to other people, but it takes me a good long while to go through my own stash.

It's strawberry season, though, and aside from a jar of strawberry-ginger jam in the freezer, I'm out. And strawberry jam is my favorite.

So you might have guessed that a fair number of the berries I bought at the farmers' market this morning were destined to end up mashed, cooked, and sealed in a glass jar or two.

But what did I want to add to the berries? Last year's microbatches with Moroccan mint and rose-scented geranium proved very successful, but given the abundance of my beautiful red roses this year, I chose to make strawberry-rose petal jam.

After slicing and mashing the berries, I mixed rose petals, one rose-scented geranium leaf, and sugar (yes, the highly refined white stuff –- shocking, I know!) in my small food processor and ground everything to a soft, fine texture.

The grinding released a lush wave of rosy fragrance, and when I added the sugar mixture to the berries, the combination was heavenly!

I won't bore you with the details of the cooking process; suffice it to say that I stood at the stove, stirring, for about 45 minutes before filling jars and processing them in a hot water bath.

My favorite part, though, is always skimming the foam –- or, as we call it in my family, the scum –- off the cooked jam because that's the stuff that's always eaten first, fresh and warm. And it always means that my hard work is immediately rewarded with a slice of fresh bread, toasted and slathered with butter, and a generous dollop of jam on top.

Roses and strawberries complement each other's flavors so beautifully, it's clear they were meant to be together.

I have three jars to prove it!


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