Strawberries are here. About time, right? I do feel like this harvest season has been a bit off. Usually I’m able to find a couple of farmers selling fresh local strawberries by Memorial Day. Though this year it seems that last weekend was the first opportunity. Luckily, they’re a fruit that linger. I can recall still getting strawberries after July 4th last year in my CSA.
The other day while making strawberry rhubarb jam, I had a bit of a problem. A good problem. My strawberries were just too juicy. I’ve been using the same recipe for 3 years now, adapted from Preserving Summer’s Bounty. First macerate the strawberries in honey overnight. Then, mix together strawberries and juices, extra honey, lemon juice and rhubarb. Cook that down and you have jam, right? In this case, very wrong. At the stage that I should have almost reached the jellying stage, I was instead left with somewhat of a strawberry soup. A deep, rich red broth with the occasional strawberry or hunk of rhubarb bobbing up and down.
Somehow I never tire of strawberries and rhubarb. Every trip to the greenmarket means at least 2 quarts of strawberries and a few pieces of rhubarb. This week alone we ate 4 quarts (ATE not canned), and the week isn’t over yet. Remember there’s only two of us. I make sure I get some of the first strawberries I can find and probably end up with some of the last. For at least a month, when strawberries are bountiful, it’s like no other food exists.
The combination of strawberry and rhubarb is nothing short of genius. Food needs to be balanced–salty, sweet, spicy, tart. The combination of sun warmed fresh strawberries and blood-red crisp rhubarb is the ultimate combination of sweet and tart. For me , it’s the perfect dessert. I LOVE dessert and would never skip it if I could. BUT, I’m also not a fan of super sweet things. I stay away from many pies, often laden with extra sugar. While a small square of dark chocolate is perfectly satisfying, I want nothing to do with milk chocolate. Strawberry rhubarb pie is pretty much my ideal dessert. But of course, its something only so perfect in season. A strawberry rhubarb pie in winter, filled with California strawberries and rhubarb from who knows where just isn’t the same. When I can’t enjoy something fresh year round, I preserve it. And my beloved pie now takes the form of jam.