While this summer hasn’t felt much like summer yet, with the cooler temps, spring-like storms and rain, and the lingering winter we had, it still is one of my favorite times of the year. Local farmer’s markets are in full swing, and my garden is starting to produce a variety of tasty treats, providing both a healthy addition to our meals and helping to lighten the heavy toll our diet puts on our grocery bill.
For the last three years I have made a spot in my garden for a strawberry patch. I weeded it faithfully (or not so faithfully on occasion) as the rototiller could not help to keep the ground worked up. And yet, for all the work I put into it, we only received a handful of berries in the entire three years combined. Why? It’s not that the plants did not produce; it’s that the critters got to it before we did. I would check the patch at night and the berries would be so close to being ready; I’d plan to pick them the next day. And without fail that night, some little pest would get into my garden, pick the strawberries, take only ONE BITE of them, and then throw them around my yard as if to taunt me.
Now I know there are several ways to protect a strawberry patch to keep it safe from animals, birds and bugs … but with the fight I have on my hands for the rest of my large garden, I weighed the work versus the benefits and decided to get rid of our strawberry patch. This year I planted extra tomato plants in the same area where the strawberry patch had been, as they flourish in our sandy soil and the critters don’t seem to care much for them.
So, when I visit the local farmer’s markets, strawberries are one thing that I look to pick up, as my boys love to eat them in season. And if you taste a local grown strawberry and compare it to the strawberries you can buy in the supermarket (even the organic ones), you can tell that there is a huge difference. Organic supermarket strawberries are large and super sweet (almost too sweet lately), where local grown strawberries are smaller and not nearly as sweet. They also don’t look as perfect as strawberries from the store, which makes me wonder what kind of methods are used to make strawberries look so pretty on the shelf.
Yesterday when I purchased our strawberries, I got a few extra pints than usual because I wanted to try to make some strawberry jam. Prior to starting the GAPS Diet, I would regularly make freezer jam to keep throughout the winter as a special treat on our bread in the mornings. Once we started with GAPS, I no longer made jam as the recipe I formerly used included both sugar and pectin, ingredients that are not legal on the GAPS Diet. However, with this recipe, you can have your GAPS and strawberry jam too! My boys would have declared it “delicious” but they were too busy eating it lathered on their cinnamon raisin bread … I just got a couple “mm-hmm”s when I asked if they thought it was good.
The recipe I found floating around on the Internet, so I’m not sure who to credit with the original. This would be considered Full GAPS, as chia seeds can usually be tolerated after digestive healing has taken place. Seeds would not want to be introduced if active digestive complaints are present.
GAPS Refrigerator Jam
1 1/3 c. local strawberries (not sprayed with any toxic substances)
2/3 c. rhubarb, chopped
2 Tbs. raw honey (to taste)
2 Tbs. chia seeds
Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor and refrigerate overnight. The chia seeds will gel, thickening the fruit puree.
Add additional diced fruit after pureeing if you like it with fruit chunks.