The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Making Strawberry Jam

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Living in CA has the benefit of fresh, local produce year-round.  Strawberries are in season and with that a came a hankering to try canning.

Last summer I made pickles with my friend Anise.  She’s fantastically kitchen-savvy, (and a helluva knitter) also teaching me to make bread using my stand mixer.

For my birthday last year, Anise gifted me a binder with several sections of the US Dept. Of Agriculture’s Guide to Home Food Preservation.  A photo of our pickles graces the cover.  A PDF, it’s a thorough tool.   A canning utensil kit accompanied her gift.

A thoughtful gesture!

I’ve finally put them to use.

At the farmers market a strawberry grower gave me a great deal on an entire flat of organic berries.  I prefer organic to conventional produce for several reasons.  This little article  sums up why nicely.   Check out their “Dirty Dozen” list to see which produce suffers from over pesticide use the most.

I was planning on buying ‘seconds,’ too blemished for regular sales. The grower had none, thus the deal on regulars.  I think I used 12 pint-sized baskets.

Supplies included my Presto Canning Tool Kit, new 8 oz jars and lids, a borrowed enamel ware giant pot with rack, unrefined sugar and Pomona’s Universal Pectin.  I chose this pectin for its reduced sweetener requirements.  Some jam recipes require as many cups of sugar as berries.  Good grief!

Fancy new tools:

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The finished product:

I started by washing, slicing and gently mashing the berries:

The Pectin powder’s mixed into a sweetener of choice. This product may use sugar, honey or agave.

After boiling and stirring the berries, sugar, and pectin mixture on the stove I poured it into clean jars.

A ten-minute water bath sealed the jars.  I lost two jars to broken bottoms.  I suspect there were air pockets in the jars.

Results:  Yum!  Just the right flavor, I’m glad I went with a low-sugar recipe.  My jam is thin. Reflecting, I did not let it thicken on the stove, enough, before adding to the jars.  Rookie mistake.  It’s mighty tasty, though and I’m loving it poured over waffles, toast, non-dairy ice cream and yogurt.

The recipe yielded more volume than it listed.  I had to rustle up more jars than I had.  Fortunately, I use canning jars for storage.  I used a couple of non-canning-specific jars (which is discouraged) but they worked out just fine.  All lids sealed properly.  I’ve enjoyed giving some away and sharing with company.

Will I make more?

You bet!

Next batch?  Thinking of Maple-Peach-Vanilla Jam or Eating Bird Food’s Low-sugar Apple Butter Recipe.  The Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol, CA approaches. I could load up on local apples, then.  The varietal is well suited to sauces.

Making jam was simpler than I thought.  I like the idea of putting up fresh produce to enjoy later.  It takes some time. I could see dedicating a day to it, now and then, when you have all the equipment out.

Do you can?  Have any secret recipes to share?

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