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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Strawberry Jam - Momma's Way

Strawberry jam is a staple in our house.  We go through several jars every year.  However, I usually end up purchasing jelly for my daughter because she is somewhat particular about her food choices and does not care for the bits and pieces of strawberries in her jam.  Well, this year, my Momma came to the rescue!  She came up with a new-to-me and delicious way of making strawberry jam that my daughter will actually eat.  For anyone who knows our family and my struggle with having particular'll know that this is huge!  So, here is how I made my strawberry jam this year.

First, clean all of your berries.  I had 13 quarts of fresh berries to clean when we returned from Dad and Mom's a few weekends ago.  They're so good to us!  Dad and I even had a nice cool morning to pick berries before the storms rolled in.  This isn't all of the berries, but you get the idea.

Ingredients and Equipment
5 cups strawberries, blended in the blender
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 box store-bought pectin or 1/3 cup bulk pectin
Clean and sanitized jelly jars, lids, and bands
Funnel with wide mouth
Glass or plastic measuring cup with spout
Large pot (6 to 8-quart)
Small saucepan with water
Stirring spoon
Clean dishtowel
Oven mitts

Place your canning jars into a deep pan or onto a cookie sheet.  Put them into a cold oven.  Turn the oven temperature on to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  The jars and oven will heat up together, preparing the jars to receive the hot jam when it's ready.  A good guideline for the number of canning jars you'll need is:  4 pint jars or 8 jelly jars per one batch of jam.

Fill a small saucepan 1/2 full with water.  Bring the water to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a lower setting (like simmer) and place the lids (not the bands) into the water and cover. Allow the lids to sit in the hot water until you are ready to seal the jars.

Measure 6 1/2 cups of sugar into a large bowl.  Set aside.  You'll be adding all of your sugar at once, so it needs to be ready before it's time to add it to the boiling strawberry jam mixture.  The recipe I've used in the past calls for 7 cups of sugar, but I used 1/2 cup less this time and the jam still turned out beautifully.

Pull out your blender.  Yes, the blender.  I thought that it was a big "faux pas" to blend your fruit, but I have tasted this jam and it is so very delicious.
Blend berries just until they're all liquid-like.  I used the pulse function on my blender.  Measure out 5 cups of blended berries.
Now put the 5 cups of blended berries into your stock pot or Dutch oven on top of the stove.  Add 1/3 cup of bulk pectin (or a box of your favorite pectin from the store) and a pat of butter.  The pat of butter keeps the mixture from boiling over.  I couldn't begin to explain the scientific reason behind it, I just know it works so I do it faithfully.  The few times I have forgotten, I have had a mess on my stove!

As soon as the mixture comes to a rolling boil, allow it to boil for one minute.

What is a rolling boil?  If you can place a spoon into the mixture and stir it without the boiling coming to a stop, you have a rolling boil.

Pour the entire 6 1/2 cups of sugar into the pot with the strawberries and pectin.
Return the mixture to a rolling boil and allow the mixture to remain at the rolling boil for one full minute.  Continue to stir so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.

After one full minute at a rolling boil, remove the strawberry jam mixture from the heat.  Using a large spoon, skim any foam from the top.

Now you are going to fill the heated jars with strawberry jam.  Remove your heated jars from the oven using oven mitts.  Using a wide mouth funnel, fill the jars with jam to 1/4 inch from the top of the jar mouth.  I usually fill one jar at a time and then seal it before moving on to the next jar.  I've seen my Momma fill three jars with jam and then seal all three and it works too.  Do what works for you.

I always keep an "extra" jar handy for the small amounts of jam that may or may not fit into the jars you have on hand.  I don't always have four of the same size jars available, so I sometimes end up with a small amount that won't fill an entirely new jar.  That's ok - just put that small amount into a jar that you can put into the refrigerator and enjoy right away.

Wipe the jar rim and thread completely.  Cover the jar quickly with a flat lid, using the heated lids in the saucepan.  Screw the bands on tightly.  Place the jars onto a wire rack to cool.  You should soon hear the fun sound of the lids "popping" which means the jam has sealed and will keep on the shelf for at least two years. 

Disclaimer:  My Momma and I have made jam for years without processing them in a water bath canner.  Neither of us had ever had an issue with the jam doing it this way.  However, I will say that the new canning guidelines out there call for processing jam in a water bath canner for at least 15 minutes.  I don't do it...but that doesn't mean you can't. 

We now have 7 batches of fresh strawberry jam in the pantry (well...minus a few jars shared with friends and family).  I am so thankful that this is jam my daughter will eat!  No more worrying about purchasing a separate jam for her.  Yes!

One friend said this jam tasted like "strawberry cheesecake"!  I am getting hungry...

The bounty of this season is so exciting!  Canning can be tiring and time consuming, but oh the rewards

All my best to you this Sunday morning.  May you and yours be blessed during your worship and praise time today.