Wasn't that a sneaky way to slide to Plant City, Florida strawberries? I am always overjoyed when the first Florida strawberries show up at the market in the dead of winter because Spring doesn't seem too, too far away. And I have loved strawberries my whole life - once insisting on buying a dress when I was four years old that was printed with strawberries and strawberry leaves. I was desolate when I outgrew that dress. Throughout the year, I make my own strawberry jam, which takes all of half an hour for one winter jar, more if you're canning a big batch in the summer.
The easiest way to find the most fragrant berries is to turn the plastic cases over and sniff the bottom of the package . It may sound (and look) odd, but it's the fastest way to pick out the best of the lot. If I'm making jam that day, I leave the berries out on the counter so they can warm to room temperature.
This fills one large canning jar - I use the wide mouth ones. Since you're only making one jar, just make sure the jar is clean, but no need to sterilize, since it lives in the fridge.
Winter Strawberry Jam
2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
juice from two fresh lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar, warmed in a low oven or 1 minute in a microwave
a candy thermometer
Place the berries in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, mash briefly, then add the lemon juice. Simmer for about 15 minutes, making sure you keep stirring so it doesn't scorch.
Add the sugar and stir well, increase the heat a little bit and continue to cook until the candy thermometer registers soft ball stage: around 240 degrees. Take off heat and dip a spoon into the jam - it should coat the spoon well.
Pour the jam into your prepared jam jar, reserving a tablespoon of warm jam for that piece of buttered bread you have waiting. Cap the jar and let sit at room temperature for half an hour, then place in fridge.
Someone gave me a cutting from their enormous bay tree a few months ago which I keep beside the stove for inspiration, and that dream of a walk-in greenhouse:)