Strawberry Season

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year, at around 30 degrees Celsius from morning until evening. Strawberries that were pink in the morning were red and ripe by the evening. What can be nicer than to populate the breakfast fruit bowl with Kentish strawberries picked from the garden a few minutes before?

Regular visitors may wonder what happened to my colourful jars of jam. I reluctantly decided that guidance given by the Food Standards Agency confirmed my suspicion that the practice of decanting jam into containers, which might be opened and closed repeatedly for several days — or even weeks in the case of the less popular flavours — was not something I should continue to do. The risk of mould and/or contamination is simply too great. In addition, checking every jar every morning for signs of mould, not to mention carting all the jars to and from the fridge each day, was becoming too much of an onerous task, as well as taking up a lot of fridge space. When mould appeared, I would have to discard the whole jar, which was wasteful. For reasons of safety and hygiene therefore, I decided that sealed individual portions should replace my colourful array. Fortunately, Tiptree provides a good selection of fruit jams, as well as chocolate spread, honey and lemon curd. You will certainly find B&Bs that do supply home-made jams — and I have many memories of wonderful locally produced confitures eaten with my morning croissants in southern French chambres d’hôte — but in our damp English climate, especially when you live in the middle of the woods, mould is an ever-present hazard and I do not have the turnover of guests to warrant keeping ten flavours of jam in an unsealed, non-vacuumed state.