When I was growing up, summer jam was never something we made in my house. We lived near corn fields in Illinois and Iowa and would enjoy sweet corn but we never canned it. I think my mother had done quite enough of that on the farm she grew up on so she didn’t feel driven to do it later. She made whole wheat bread but we never even had store bought jam at home, it was considered junk food. Today, I still do not eat jelly or jam unless it is on the table at a restaurant and it looks interesting. Nor do we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches due to food allergies.
With all this you might wonder why I would even chose to make strawberry jam at all.
We live on a small mountain where wild and domestic blue berries grow with complete abandon. The domestic patches at nearby orchards have been slow to come up but now we are starting the picking season.
Strawberry jam was just a practice run for the blueberry jam we will be making after our pickfest!
So how did it turn out?
Even though this was a proof-of-concept for me, WOW, does homemade fresh strawberry jam taste GOOD and nothing like the stuff you buy at the grocery store. It is worth the trouble 10 times over.
How is it different? It have many layers of flavor, not just the flat monotone of artifical flavors in commercial jams. The flavor profile develops all across the tongue with at least three different seperable flavor experiences, finishing pleasantly at the back of the throat. I made mine chunky so it really perked up the texture and experience.
This jam is pretty easy to make especially since it doesn't require a pressure cooker, just a boiling water bath.
I took the recipe from the insert that you find tucked inside Ball Fruit Jell Pectin and it could not be easier.
1 box of Ball Fruit Jell Pectin
5 C crushed strawberries (2 quarts)
1/4 C Fresh Squeezed lemon juice
7 C sugar
8 - 8 oz. Ball jelly jars with sealing domes and rings
Directions (some of these are my own and some from the insert):
But a large pot of water onto boil. You will want to cover your jars with 1 and 1/2 inches of water after all are added. Have some hot boiling water available to top it off.
Jar cleaning (My method):
Into an empty dishwasher place jelly jars, lids, and rings. Run on the most robust setting (we used "pots and pans") without any other dirty dishes. If you are not ready for the jars at the end of the cycle keep setting the machine back to the beginning of the dry cycle to keep them hot and relatively sterile.
Clean strawberries by rinsing in cold water, cutting off the leaves and removing the white core under the leaves. Cut them in half and let drip dry a bit while you clean the whole batch.
Cut the berries in half and put a portion in a large freezer bag, close, and crush the strawberries. If you like a chunky jam do not crush the berries into a liquid! Do not use a food processor. You can also use a bowl and potato masher if you prefer.
Put 5 cups of crushed strawberries into a large pot.
Add 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice to the pot.
Add the entire packet of pectin and stir well.
Bring this mixture to a full boil, stirring constantly.
Have all 7 cups of sugar measured and add to the boiling strawberry mixture.
It might seem like 7 cups will not dissolve but it does pretty quickly.
Bring this to a hard rolling boil (if your pot is not big enough it WILL overflow) for 1 minute. Stir this constantly. Remove the foam that forms on the top.
Fill one jar at a time, leave 1/4 inch at the top. (this is called headspace)
Wipe the edge and threads of the jar with a damp cloth so that nothing impedes lid sealing.
Put sealing dome lid on and then the ring, screw on tight (finger tight).
When you have filled one jar gently put it into the boiling pot of water on your stove and cover.
Repeat until all strawberry mixture is gone, adding each jar as it is closed.
Make sure the jars are covered by at least 1 and 1/2 inches of boiling water.
Boil 10 minutes if you are in a kitchen located under 1000 feet altitude, 15 minutes between 1000 – 3000 feet, 20 minutes between 3000 – 6000 feet, etc. Cover with a lid.
Carefully remove jars after boil time to a cloth on your counter.
Allow to cool 12 – 24 hours and then check each lid for a seal. If you can push down on it you will have to either pitch that jar-full or re-sterilize it. The lid should not move when you press down on it.
These jars can be stored in a dark cool pantry for up to one year.
Enjoy it with fresh homemade bread!
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