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How to Make Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

It’s strawberry season, that time of year when you can head out to great U Pick places like Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham to get your fill – and more – of the plump juicy red fruit. This year, I learned how to make a very simple strawberry jam that not only is sweet and tasty, it has less than half the amount of sugar of regular jam. My tutor was one of Maine’s expert master preservers, Kate McCarty from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Falmouth.

McCarty, who also writes The Blueberry Files blog on the food scene in Portland, is fond of the recipe by Pomona’s Pectin, an all natural, preservative free pectin made in Washington state.

low sugar strawberry jam The most important ingredient in this recipe, of course,  are the strawberries.  McCarty says they should be ripe and free of green or yellow spots, and firm, not soft to the touch or mushy.  Beyond the strawberries and pectin, you also need sugar or honey and a few very useful kitchen utensils including a wide mouth funnel, a rubberized jar lifter for removing hot jars from heat, a timer, a magnetic lid lifter and a headspace measure. Most of these are included in a beginner’s canning kit such as the one Ball makes.

low sugar strawberry jam The berries are hulled and destemmed and put to boil with the other ingredients in the jam recipe, listed below. The mixture is boiled until it becomes what McCarty calls a “rolling boil,” which means the boiling does not cease when you take a spoon to it.  low sugar strawberry jam As the boiling process ensues, McCarty says, you also work to sterilize the jam jars (less than $20 a dozen at your local hardware or department store) as well as the two-piece lids. This is done in a separate pot.

When everything is done, fill the jars with the hot jam mixture, being careful to leave the recommended “headspace” between the jam and top of jar. This is done to help ensure a vacuum seal and to ward off any possible contamination.

As a last step, McCarty says the covers are placed in a hot water bath for approximately 10 minutes to seal the covers. You know the seals are set, she says, if after removing the filled jam jars from the hot water, the lids have no flex.

So easy and a great way to have a taste of fresh local strawberries well into the winter.

low sugar strawberry jam

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

Yield: Four 8-oz. jars

Ingredients:

4 cups prepared strawberries

2 teaspoons calcium water

3/4 to 2 cups sugar or 1/2 to 1 cup honey

2 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Directions:

Prepare calcium water according to directions. Wash strawberries and dry. Remove stems and hulls; mash fruit. Fill hot water bath canner halfway. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Wash and rinse four 8-ounce canning jars; let stand in hot canner water. Let lids stand in hot water.

Measure fruit into stockpot. Add calcium water and stir well. Measure sugar or honey into separate bowl. Thoroughly mix proper amount of pectin powder into sugar or honey.

Bring fruit to a boil. Add pectin-sugar/honey mixture; stir vigorously 1 to 2 minutes while cooking to dissolve pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat.

Pour hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Apply two-part lids and tighten screw band until fingertip-tight. Process half-pints for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Tattoo from Julia Rothman Tattly

Tattoo Me (Just Don’t Make It Permanent)

Several years ago, I thought about getting a tattoo. Something small and sweet in some inconspicuous place such as my ankle, thigh or shoulder. I thought about it for a week or two and then dropped the idea. I just couldn’t think of anything that I would want to have permanently scrawled on my body,  be it a message to the world,  a personal credo or a beloved person or pet. Everything is fleeting in this world, I thought, and a tattoo should be, too.

Now, apparently, someone gets it. The new tattoos are totally 100% fake, made with vegetable dyes and other benign substances that fade away in a week or so. And the best part is, the new fake tattoos actually have some artistic value.

Etsy has some good ones with a focus on the garden, and so does Tattly.com, a website featuring fake tattoos made by select artists from around the world.
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I could see myself wearing this radish tattoo to the farmer’s market. It’s made by Brooklyn artist Julia Rothman and sold on Tattly.  From the same artist, a tender stalk of thyme that can be wound around the wrist or arm,  temporarily, of course.
fake tattoo So, let’s say you see yourself as more of a flower child this week. There are faux tattoos for that, too. Below, a beautiful vintage bouquet tat for the nape of the neck from Netherlands artist Wilma Boekholt, who creates fake tattoos for bridal parties, often with a Delft influence. Her shop is called Tattoorary.
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fake tattoo Another popular temporary tattoo shop on Etsy is pepperink out of Brisbane, Australia. Old fashioned and vintage-y, these floral fake tattoos would look lovely with a sundress or vintage wedding dress. Artist Pepper Baldwin also says she’ll work with you on a custom bridal package. What fun!
fake tattoo fake tattoo I could see myself wearing any of these tattoo designs with a garden or floral theme. I could also see myself in something nautical, like an anchor or tall ship, or trying on some goth for a Halloween party.

Just as long as it’s gone in a few days, I’m all right with just about anything.

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Take a Hike: Great Salt Bay Farm

Sometimes, it seems wildlife sanctuaries are more about providing a picturesque pastime for humans than a retreat for rare species. Many a time, I’ve found myself completely alone among the flora, with no fauna in sight. It’s as if the wildlife failed to get the memo to come enjoy the free, wide open space.

But this is definitely not the case with the Great Salt Bay Farm Wildlife Preserve in Damariscotta, Maine. On an early June morning, the sprawling meadow is alive with birds, bees and blooms.

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The 100-acre preserve sits on the banks of Great Salt Bay in Damariscotta, just north of Boothbay Harbor. It is a former farm purchased in 1994 by the Damariscotta River Association, a non-profit conservation group. The preserve encompasses a mile of shoreline, wetlands, woods and rolling meadows that were once working farmland. The 1800s farmhouse and barn still stand; the white clapboard house serves as the DRA’s headquarters.

Among the wildlife visiting the Great Salt Bay Farm during the summer months is the ground nesting bobolink, which reportedly travels all the way from South America to nest in the salt-tinged Maine meadow.  Other birds seen frequently are song sparrows, yellow warblers and red-winged blackbirds. Some days, it gets quite noisy in there.

lupine 010 lupine 026 The Great Salt Bay Farm Wildlife Preserve in Damariscotta is open year-round, while the visitors center at 110 Belvedere Road is open weekdays, from 9 am to 5 pm. The DRA also hosts numerous bird walks throughout the year to which the public is invited.  For more information, you can call (207) 563-1393.

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