A Guilty Pleasure: Strawberry Jam!
I’ve preserved a wide variety of foods over the years (via canning, pickling, freezing, etc.) However, I’ve never made strawberry jam! I realized the other day that everyone (and by everyone I don’t mean actually everyone, but I do mean almost everyone) has canned strawberry jam and that I certainly should too. For one, we have some of the best fresh strawberries in the world grown in our area. Scott’s strawberries are coveted and devoured when they come into season each year. They really are delicious.
Check out this local Upper East Tennessee farm here:
Second, my family loves strawberry jam (well except Ella Rose who was allergic to strawberries when tiny and now refuses to allow herself to like them.) And Finally, everyone is doing it (well, almost everyone.)
Now we have a wonderful patch of strawberries at our house and these keep us full and happy.
The problem is they don’t typically make it in the house. Our family simply stands in the garden and devours the strawberries along with the sugar snap peas as they appear.
I actually used this phrase this week, “We need to leave in 10 minutes, everyone go to the garden and pick a snack to take with you.” How great is that?! If I had a greenhouse we could mutter those words year round. (Hint, Aaron!) Anyway, this means we don’t buy strawberries that often. However, Aaron’s mom gave us a jar of homemade strawberry jam this week. With that taste fresh on our lips it was on a whim that we pulled into the Scott’s stand when we saw it. I told Aaron if he stopped and bought a bunch that I would make some jam, immediately after hearing those words he somehow zipped across two lanes of traffic and jumped out of the car to get in line.
When we got home and laid them out on the counter I knew we’d made the right decision.
To make jam you need Sure Jell fruit pectin.
I asked around for the recipe and kept being told to look on the Kraft Sure Jell package or website. We decided to go for the option of Sure Jell that uses less sugar and did a simple google search and found this recipe:
Like I said, I have canned and pickled and preserved all sorts of things before, but I found the recipe to be a little confusing (Aaron says it’s really not) so I decided to post about it even though it is a copy straight from the box. This way if you are not one of the everybody’s out there that has already canned strawberries (like I was) maybe you will see how simple it is and go for it- even if you’ve never canned before. I think this is a good starter!
To make jam you can do the easy freezer version (which is on the package and more simple than what I did.) However, if you go that option then you must freeze your jam until you are ready to use it. I really wanted to seal mine so that I could put it in my glass cabinets in my kitchen where I keep home canned items. Canned food isn’t just a wonderful way to preserve food free of chemicals, but it also is great for home decorating so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to show off my labor in the glass cabinets.
With all of that being said…here are the instructions (from the website) changed into my words:
Ingredients: Strawberries (fresh and perfectly ripe), 4 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp of butter, and 1 box of Sure Jell for less or no sugar fruit pectin
Clean all your jars and screw bands with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Lay out to dry.
In a sauce pan bring a few inches of water to a boil then put your flat lids in (flat lids need to be unused to seal properly) then remove the water from heat and let the lids sit in the hot water while you do the rest.
I have a pressure cooker, but you don’t need one to can strawberry jam. You will need the biggest pot you have. (I used my pressure cooker, but like I said a gigantic pot with a lid will work too.) Fill it up with water past a point where when you add your jars to the pot they will be covered by the water. Go ahead and put it on the stove on high heat. It will need to boil to seal the cans and it can take a good while to get a big pot of water up to a boil.
Now back to the strawberries. We bought four quarts, but wound up with a quart left. This will vary depending on how good of shape your strawberries are in. Ours were in wonderful shape so there was little waste. (Don’t worry- we put the leftovers to good use for dessert this evening. See below for an excellent use of the leftovers!) Rinse the strawberries and then cut off the stems and any bad spots off the strawberries.
Lay them flat on a cutting board in a single layer and chop and mash them until they look more mushy jam like and less strawberry like.
As you get the strawberries mushed measure out six cups (mine were overflowing) and put them in a 8 quart sauce pan. (Don’t turn on the heat yet.) Then keep chopping and mashing until you have six cups.
In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup of sugar and the box of pectin.
Stir this into your strawberries, add the 1/2 tsp of butter (just lay it on top) and then put the pot on high heat. Stir constantly. The butter will melt in and this will keep your jam from foaming.
When this mixture comes to a boil (and stays boiling even while you’re stirring) then stir in the remaining 3 and 3/4 cups of sugar. Keep stirring for one more minute after it returns to a boil.
Remove from heat. If you have any foam remove it with a metal spoon. Immediately pour into jars using a wide mouthed funnel.
After you pour the jam into the jars wipe off the rims and tops and put the flat lids that have been in the hot water on top and then add the rings.
Place your jars down into your big pot of water and make sure the water covers the jars by an inch or two. If it doesn’t add more water. Bring the water to a boil and cover the pot. Let it boil ten minutes.
After ten minutes remove from heat and remove jars and place on a towel upright to cool. You will hear the cans start to pop as they cool. This is normal- they are sealing.
Check for seals by pressing in the middle of the jar. If it doesn’t spring back it is sealed. If the seal didn’t take you will need to refrigerate the jam.
Label your jars with what it is and the date. Always do this- you will be surprised how quickly you forget later!
Now, enjoy! We love this lower sugar version because you can taste the freshness of the strawberries and it’s better for you. We chose to add sugar rather than going with the splenda substitution alternatives. We’re big on using natural ingredients around here.
Here is one of our favorite ways to enjoy this special treat. Whole wheat saltine cracker spreaded with goat cheese (fresh made from our local farmer’s market) and topped with some homemade strawberry jam. (Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.) It’s pure heaven in your mouth!
Now I bet you’re wondering where those leftover strawberries went? Well, Aaron took wonton wrappers we had left over from dinner and filled them with nutella and the leftover cut up strawberries. Then he folded them up and sealed them with a mixture of 1 tbsp. of water and 1 egg. He heated up some oil in a pan and fried them. Sinful and delicious!