It’s strawberry season and I decided to “put up” some jam with the abundant, luscious strawberries I bought at the farmer’s stand down the street. Canning has always been an interest of mine and having homemade jams in our pantry is a real treat. There is definitely a science to properly preparing homemade preserves and jams. When I was visiting the Cotswolds in England over a decade ago, I purchased the most beautiful book titled “Perfect Preserves, Provisions from the Kitchen Garden” by Nora Carey. The photography is so gorgeous that you just can’t wait to get cooking once you look at the pictures! I definitely learned the “proper” British way to prepare preserves. However, there are many techniques for creating the perfect jam. Ball’s book (or website as it is now, referenced below) is the American Bible on Canning and I have cross-referenced it many times. Today I am going to use my new Tech Fresh Jam Maker — it feels a little like I am cheating, however, it cuts down on time and creates a very nice result, so why not. Here is what you will need:
Equipment: There are many types of jam jars available. My favorite are the type that clamp at the top — so pretty and have many uses after the jam is gone. Here are some things to consider in purchasing your jars. The clamp style, my fav, requires a new band each time you reuse them. The jars with the twist on lid (first two images) require that you use new lids each time you reuse the jars. The square jars, which stack and fit side by side very neatly in the pantry, require their own special bands, which may be a little hard to find, although Sur La Table does carry them. I love the clamp jars with the chalk board labels. It is helpful to purchase a chalk board pen, available at Michael’s, which makes writing on the label easier and although not permanent, stays on much better than regular chalk. There are lots of choices. All of these are available at Sur La Table, which you can view in their catalog here, some are on sale: Sur La Table.
You will also need a few other things:
A potato masher to mash the fruit
A canning jar lifter, or as I use, a stock pot and with a pasta collander that lifts the jars out of hot water, and tongs to handle the hot jars …. and
A canning funnel, here is a kit that comes with both the funnel and jar lifter, available at Sur La Table :
Here are the ingredients and recipe for Strawberry Jam. This is a lower in sugar version.
Strawberry Jam – Low Sugar
• 5 cup(s) (crushed) fresh strawberries
• 1 package(s) (3/4 ounce) lower-sugar powdered fruit pectin
• 2 1/2 cup(s) sugar
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Directions to prepare in Dutch Oven over stove top:
1. Prepare six 8-ounce canning jars and their lids and bands for processing following manufacturer’s directions. Here is a step-by-step guide from the Ball website: http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/steps/high-acid-foods.asp Meanwhile, wash and clean strawberries, remove stems. In large bowl, with potato masher, crush enough berries in batches to measure 5 cups.
2. Place strawberries in 5-quart Dutch oven. With a wire whisk, gradually stir pectin into crushed berries. Let mixture stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place lids in small saucepan and cover with water; heat to boiling and set pan aside.
3. Heat strawberry mixture to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and return strawberry mixture to a rolling boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in lemon juice. Remove strawberry jam from heat. With metal spoon, skim off and discard foam as it accumulates on top.
4. Place jars and lids upside down on wire rack set over towels to drain. Spoon jam into hot, drained jars, fill to 1/4 inch from top of jar. Wipe jar rims clean. Seal jars. Process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes (instructions in above link). Cool jars on wire rack to room temperature. Label jars and store in cool, dry place. Use within 6 months. Once opened, store in refrigerator and use within 3 weeks.
Directions to prepare in the handy-dandy FreshTech ™ jam maker (click here to see at Sur La Table)using recipe above:
After making the jam in the Fresh Tech Jam Maker, follow the steps above for the canning process.
There are several other options for storing jam if you are pressed for time or just don’t want to hassle with all the preserving jars, lids, etc. You can put portions of the jam in airtight containers and store in your freezer for up to 1 year or your refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can even recycle jars and lids, wash them with hot soapy water, dry them, fill with jam and place in the fridge. The advantage of canning is your jam will last for a longer period of time, can be stored in the pantry, and my favorite thing, given as gifts without the concern of how the recipient will store the jam. And now….the best part…eating the fresh strawberry jam on some gluten-free bread.
Next, what to make with my fresh strawberry jam? I think Strawberry filled Crepes are in order.