On Friday we met a few more shepherds/dhangars who had migrated from Salpe to Dhom which is close to the base of the Mahabaleshwar mountain range near the town of Wai. Mahabelshwar is where all the strawberries are grown.
This is very much the season for strawberries and at Rs.10 a box how could I not stock up.
We also went to the Mapro Factory – famous for their bottles of preserves and juices great for making milk shapes, flavoured cream and flavoured yogurt. Fresh strawberries and cream at 3 in the afternoon after a hard day out in the field talking to Dhangar women who have probably never eaten a strawberry in their lives. Oh the ironies of research!
The very next day I embarked on this rather quick strawberry jam. I didn’t have any pectin sugar – I’m sure you can get this at Crawford market. Without pectin the jam is more of a runny consistency but is still great on toast or cake, in milk or yogurt.
Here’s how easy it is:
-wash and cut lots of strawberries in fairly large chunks, removing the green stems. Put them in a saucepan.
-Add a cup of sugar and put the saucepan on the heat and let the water from the strawberries and the sugar do its thing.
The strawberries will reduce in size as the water is sucked out. Let it bubble away on a medium heat, scrapping off foam every now and then. Taste to see if it is sweet enough and keep bubbling away till you are satisfied with the thickness. Make sure you still have some strawberries intact.
– Sterlise a jar: Place a glass jar and its lid in boiling water for 15 minutes. For the last 3 minutes put a pair of tongs also in to the water to sterlise and then lift the jar out of the water with the tongs.
– The rule is that hot preserves go in to hot jars and cold preserves into cold jars. So place the hot strawberry jam in to the jar and allow it to come to room temperature. I have a lot of old Bonne Maman jam jars that I keep around.
– Once at room temperature, place in the fridge. Should last for a 4 to 7 days but is bound to be consumed before then…Great on toast, as a cake filling between two layers of sponge, for biscuit, donut or a tart fillings.
The rule on fieldwork – sample the local delicacies.