I have always loved strawberries, but I would never say we were best friends until I moved to Portland, Oregon. My first summer there, I bought a flat of locally grown berries from a stand on the side of the road. When the first fruit hit my mouth, it was like I had never tasted a strawberry before. I mean truly, it was unbelievable. Kyle said the only place he had ever tasted strawberries like these before was in his grandparents' Utah garden.
The following year we set out to Sauvie Island to pick strawberries with our good friends Emily, Jeremy, Cole, Aviana, and Alydia. We began our evening with a picnic dinner and then headed into the fields. Everyone seemed to have their own goal for the evening. Kyle was on the hunt for the biggest strawberries. Cole looked for the rotting ones he could use as shooting missiles. Emily was determined to get enough strawberries to feed her family for the next 25 years. And Aviana made me smile when we sat in the fields picking together and she would proclaim "Joy, that is the most beautiful strawberry ever". And she was right.
Over 26 lbs of strawberries later, Kyle and I were busy cleaning and cutting them all in our little kitchen. I believe Kyle filled four large bags of strawberries to my one, mostly because most of them didn't make it past my mouth. With the five remaining bags, I decided to make my first batch of jam ever. It was a hit.
Sweet Strawberry Jam
1/2 Cup Strawberry Juice
4 Cups Strawberries
4 Tbsp Agar Agar Flakes
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Cup Agave Syrup
First step is to smash the strawberries and strain out the juice. If you can't get enough juice you can add a little water instead. Mix the Agar Agar (vegan substitute for gelatin - flavorless seaweed) with the juice and let stand for 15 minutes. Next add the 4 cups of smashed strawberries and put all on the stove top. Slowly bring to a boil for 1-5 minutes. Turn off the burner and let cool slightly before adding the agave syrup and lemon juice. Mix all together and pour into glass jars. If you can wait (seriously, who can wait?) let them set in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.