I am not a fruit jelly person.
Fruit jellies are those lovely, clear, sparkling creations prized for their lack of seeds or fruit pulp. They take time, patience and (to me) they are a bit fussy. Give me a hearty, rustic jam with chunks of tender fruit to spread all over my morning toast any day. Homemade jam reminds me of sticky, jam kisses from your children. And lazy, summer mornings. And one of my favorite children’s books, Jamberry by Bruce Degan.
By next week, we will have blueberries…
One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry
Hatberry, shoeberry, in my canoeberry
But right now, we have strawberries…
Finger and pawberry
My berry, your berry
So this weekend, I made strawberry jam, thick with pieces of strawberry and absolutely, berry delicious. This recipe is a slight derivation from a recipe in Sherry Brooks Vinton’s book Put ‘Em Up. Just slight though. I use a stick blender to really mash up the berries and I also add 1 tablespoon of organic, unsalted butter to the cooking berries. I seem to have a problem with strawberries producing a lot of foam and the butter is a Ball recipe suggestion for reducing foam (it works!).
And if I haven’t said it enough, the Put ‘Em Up canning/food preservation book is really the best one I have. It is the only one that is thoroughly sticky, splattered, dog-eared and well-loved. For the record, I get nothing for saying that, just the satisfaction of sharing with you something I appreciate.
Got strawberries? Go make this jam!
Strawberry Jam (makes 6-7 half pints)
- 8 cups of organic strawberries, rinsed and hulled (tops taken off)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted, organic butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
- 2 teaspoons calcium water (included in the Pomona’s packet)
- Cut the cleaned and hulled berries into quarters (or into halves if the are small). Put cut berries into a non-reactive stock pot.
- Mash the berries with a potato masher, then blend together with a stick blender for about 1 minute.
- Mix the sugar and pectin together in a bowl.
- Fill your canning pot with water and add the rack and your jars. Heat over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Put lids in a bowl and set aside.
- While you wait for the canning pot to heat, bring the berries and the butter to a boil over medium high heat, and stir to make sure they don’t burn.
- Stir in the calcium water and lemon juice. Then, add the sugar and pectin mixture, stirring to prevent lumps.
- Return the berry mixture to a boil, heating through. The mixture should be thick and coat the back of a spoon. Remove pot from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam.
- Turn the heat off of the canning pot. Remove hot jars from the canning pot CAREFULLY and empty the hot water inside the jars back into the canning pot. Put some of the hot water in the bowl with the jar lids. You want to cover them in the very hot water.
- Fill the hot jars with the hot berries, leaving 1/4″ of headspace. We use our trusty blue canning funnel. Use a spatula or the gadget that comes with your canning kit to remove any excess air in the jars.
- Wipe jar rims with a clean paper towel, take the lids from the hot water and top each jar with a lid. Screw on bands just to finger tightness (don’t over tighten).
- Add the jars back to the canning pot, add the cover, and bring water to a boil for 10 minutes.
- Cut off the heat, remove the pot lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from the canning pot and do not tilt them! I use a clean tea towel to dab excess water off the jars, but keep them straight.
- Let the jars sit I disturbed for 24 hours. Check seals and store all sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Note: If you have any extra jam that doesn’t quite fill a jar, you can ladle it into a jar or cup and refrigerate it for up to 3 weeks!
This is the basic technique that applies to all berry jam making. The proportion of acid and pectin may change, but if you can do this, you will be able to can almost anything! Ready? Give it a go!
Raspberry, jazzberry, razzamatazzberry,
Berry land, merryland, jamming in berryland