Strawberries… lovely strawberries. I grew up making strawberry jam every summer with mom. It’s what taught me how to preserve–and how to avoid getting burned in the kitchen! Every June, we used to pile into the van, load up with sunscreen and be sent out into the fields like little workers. I remember eating a LOT of strawberries, making a huge mess and whining about how many more we had to pick.
Thanks to shifting weather patterns from global warming, La Niña or whatever else we had a boom crop of strawberries in mid-May instead of June this year. The hubby and I headed out to Schacht Farm Market and picked 21 lbs. You know, because 2 just wouldn’t have been enough. ;o)
First up, Strawberry jam!
- strawberries, hulled and chopped into a few pieces
- granulated sugar
- lemon juice
Fresh strawberries (day of or day after picking) are the best to use because they’re the most reliable. As soon as fruit is picked it starts losing water and decaying. Neither of these processes make for good jam because they alter flavor and moisture content, which can muck up your jam’s texture. Plan for this when you go to pick/buy berries.
I won’t give exact measurements on ingredients because different pectin brands can work differently. Therefore, I recommend that you follow the recipe on the pectin when it comes to ingredients. The process of making jam is pretty much the same regardless the brand.
- Grab a beer–this is gonna take a while. ;o)
- Gather supplies: ladel, funnel, towels, huge pot of boiling water (for sterilizing jars & later for processing jarred jam), a large skillet/fry pan of slightly simmering water, tongs (for lifting lids out of skillet), long-handled wooden or silicone spoon
- Sterilize jars in boiling water for at least 10 mins, then set them out to receive jam. I usually sterilize my funnel and ladle as well, just not for the full 10 mins.
- Place lids (not rings) in skillet of barely simmering water. (I usually do this rubber side up, but that’s just me.)
- Measure out ALL ingredients into separate containers.
- Mash the berries a bit. I don’t get too crazy with this because I like a really chunky jam, but if you want it more smooth, mash a bit more. Don’t use a blender or food processor though or you may end up with a really thin, poorly set jelly.
- Dump the mashed berries, lemon juice, pectin and salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot & stir together well.
- Bring to a full, rolling boil while stirring constantly. Be careful though; there’s no saving jam if it gets the least bit burnt.
- Dump all of the sugar in at once and stir it in.
- Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil for a full minute–again, while constantly stirring. Be *really* careful–the addition of the sugar will allow the liquid to reach super high temps–over the boiling point. Also, the jars will be super hot from this point on.
- After a full minute at the boil, remove from the heat and fill each sterilized jar using the funnel and ladle.
- Wipe the mouth of each jar clean to ensure a good seal with the lid.
- Using tongs (or a nifty magnet-tipped canning tool) lift the lids and place them on each jar.
- Carefully place the rings on each jar and tighten just until hand-tight. Don’t over-tighten or the jars could break during processing.
- Place jars in large pot of simmering water for 10 minutes to allow them to “process”. This kills most pathogens.
- Remove jars at the end of this time and set out to cool.
- Sit back and enjoy the glorious sound of the lids popping closed.
- Once the jars have cooled enough to handle, you can tighten the rings again. They usually loosen up a bit while processing.
After things cool, pop open one of those puppies and test your jam. Get a cracker, a piece of toast, a biscuit or a spoon and sample your hard work. Enjoy that beautiful taste of late spring/early summer!