Friday, May 25, 2012

Strawberry Jam

I had the sudden realization this morning I had mentioned homemade strawberry jam a few weeks ago, and I never came back to it.  Oops.  Since strawberry season is almost over, I better hurry up!

The main reason I forgot is that the recipe is not perfect, so I wasn't sure I should even share. The jam is not as good as the improvised yumminess I made for book club trifle because it is very very sweet.  However, the preserves/jam/fruit goodness still tastes delicious on toast or cake or even straight out the jar.  Here is a modified recipe from what I originally found--what I used was a granny's recipe and had 8 cups of sugar instead, hence the outrageous sweetness!

Old-fashioned strawberry jam (makes 8 cups)
8 cups strawberries, crushed with a potato masher
6 cups sugar
Lemon juice (optional)

Bring berries and sugar to a boil.  It should get to 220 degrees Fahrenheit in order to jelly-fy correctly.  I used the fridge test since I didn't have a thermometer, taking some out and putting it in the fridge for a few minutes to see if it would set. There's also a spoon test, but I can't speak to that. Google it if you're interested.

It might foam a lot.  We made a complete mess, in fact (thanks to Ryan for scrubbing the stove).  I put a drop of butter in to help with that, although it was a tad too late to prevent serious sugar scorch on the cooktop... I then skimmed off froth after it had been cooked.

After the jam had cooled, I ladled it into freezer-safe canning jars I had sterilized in the dishwasher, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top.  I then put on the clean lids and screwed them on.  At this point, I stuck the eight jars into the freezer.  If you want them shelf stable, you'll need to process them in a water bath (See this site for more information on canning).

We've already eaten two jars full of jam.
As I said, my jam is very sweet, but damn, it's good. The kids love it. It's like springtime in a jar.

It set correctly and isn't runny at all.  The high sugar content helped it a lot.  You can try methods without sugar, but the consistency will be quite different.

Winslow likes jelly sandwiches.  Smart girl.

So while this whole experiment might not have been a blazing success, I am so glad I went ahead with preserving the delicious strawberries of the season.  I plan on venturing forth with some "real canning" so to speak once the tomatoes are plentiful.  Give food preservation a try.  There are very easy freezer jam recipes online (that require little to no cooking), or you could freeze vegetables from your garden or farmers' market, or you could go whole hog and get a water bath canning system set up (for high acid foods like pickles and 'maters) or even  a pressure canner (other veggies) to enjoy the summer's bounty all year long.


  1. You've renewed my desire to make strawberry jam. This looks delicious!

  2. I know you're not going to believe this, but I put up something like 96 pints of various jams and jellies a couple of summers ago. It took 3 days and 3 bottles of wine. I strongly suggest that canning and drinking be done simultaneously. It helps the aching feet.

    At any rate, if you're really thinking about canning tomatoes, make sure you talk to someone in your area (I suggest the county extension office) about your kinds of tomatoes. Heirlooms and hybrids have a widely disparate level of acid; hybrids often require additional citrus in order to can properly. AND badly canned tomatoes can be deadly (both in the explosive and puking varieties of death).

    I'm going to email you some notes on canning tomatoes from the MN extension office (I know, I know, you're still in shock about my 4H proclivities... but I DID grow up on a farm after all!) Marisa

    1. Oh, I've got the "added acid" recipe ready to go, partly because I like low-acid tomatoes (my mouth can't tolerate high acid ones anymore). But yes, send me your information! And so glad to hear from you.

      P.S. I'm stocking up on booze for my canning. Excellent idea.


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