Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Strawberry Jam, the traditional way, is a little more intensive. The benefit of canned jam is that if the electricity goes out for a long period of time, your jam won't go bad.
So if you are a jam-eating family and the thought of being without jam for any lengthy period of time sends shivers down your spine, then having a couple jars of jam in the pantry is a good way to go.
The ingredients: Strawberries, Sugar and Pectin (the type for canned jams, not the freezer variety)
The materials are different too. You need jars (how many will depend on how much jam you are making) and rings in the right size as well as lids. It is recommended not to reuse lids because they may not seal the second time. You can reuse the rings and the jars. Look around at garage sales for jars or ask your grandparents/parents for extras if money is tight.
Cover your lids and rings in water and bring to a simmer. Leave it at simmering so they will be hot when you are ready for them. This helps the sealing process.
Same with the jars, only bring these guys to a boil first and then simmer off.
See the nice bubbles, this is good. After you bring your pot to a boil, you can stick it in a warm oven (200 or lower) to keep it warm. This is helpful if you need more stove top space.
This recipe calls for significantly more sugar than freezer jam. Not that I mind sugar. I love it, but if you aren't a big sugar fan, just look in the canning section for the sugar-free jam pectin packets. Sugar free jam is actually pretty good too. Especially if your fruit is really ripe and delicious.
Anyway, measure out your sugar first.
Then get to work on your strawberries. Rinse, hull, and slice your strawberries into the blender.
Puree. The recipe on the pectin box admonished me to keep my jam chunky. But my blender only has one setting. Blend. You could do this with a potato masher for very chunky jam. This is a matter of personal preference. And for me, convenience.
To a pot on the stove add the crushed berries and the pectin packet. This recipe also called for a little butter. I have never used butter before, but what doesn't taste better with butter, right?
Mix and stir according to package directions. This involves rapid boiling and lots of stirring. Then you add the sugar all at once, more rapid boiling and stirring. No pictures because I was stirring. Rapidly.
During this time you will also be skimming the foam off the top. This is mainly just air, so if you want "pretty jam" go ahead and remove it. I usually don't bother. I'm lazy.
When the jam is finished, pull a jar out of the water and fill it. Don't fill the jam all the way to the top. Leave some "headspace" at the top for the jam to settle.
Important! Wipe off the top of the jar with a clean moist cloth or paper towel. You don't want anything on the top of the jar rim that could contaminate the jam or interfere with the seal.
Pull out a lid for your jar. You can get all sorts of cool canning stuff. Like a magnetic stick to pull the lids out. Or you can use your salad tongs.
Get a strong man to put the ring on if you have puny arm muscles like me.
Turn your jam upside down for an hour. Or overnight if you are totally exhausted by this display of domesticity. This will "seal" the jam so it can keep at room temperature without spoiling.
I ran out of hot jars for this last little bit. So I grabbed another jar and stuck it in the fridge for breakfast.
After an hour (or in the morning), turn your jars over and test the seal by pressing on the lid. It should stay firm under your finger and not pop up and down.
You did it!
Note: This is just one of many recipes/ways to make jam. For a good resource on jam making and canning in general, check out this site.
Topics: Food Preservation