So in addition to fruit leather, strawberry shortcake, and ripe berry goodness what does $25 and an hour at the farm yield?
Why, strawberry jam, of course!
There is no reason to be afraid of home preserving. We’ve all heard horror stories of the family that never got up from the table because grandma’s green beans were tainted with botulism. The truth is, by following directions carefully and using the proper equipment home canning is quite safe. Not only do you get to enjoy your produce year round, you know exactly what ingredients are used, and dollar for dollar what you can at home is of higher quality.
Jams, jellies, and preserves* contain enough acid and sugar and do not require pressure canning, a water bath is used. If you already have a large stockpot, there is no reason to run out and buy a special pot for canning. Directions for processing are included in each box of pectin. These directions are specific to your elevation, so it’s important to read them carefully.
Before beginning make sure the rims of your jars are free from cracks or burrs. Sterilize the jars and keep them hot, the dry cycle of a dishwasher is perfect for this. Pouring the hot jam into cold jars could cause them to crack. Sterilize the lids, which are only safe for a single use, by boiling.
Fill the large pot with water and heat. It has to be at a full boil and due to its size, it will take a while. Start heating before you make the jam.
For strawberry jam you’ll need:
- 2 qts ripe strawberries, crushed
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 7 cups of sugar (I’ve read it is possible to reduce this amount, but I have yet to experiment)
- 1 box pectin
Heat the strawberries, pectin, and lemon juice over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture has reached a full boil, (still boiling while stirred) add the sugar. Stirring constantly return the mixture to a full boil and allow to boil for a full minute. Be careful, the mixture is quite hot and may splatter.
To ensure the jam will be the consistency you desire, dip a spoon in ice water and then quickly into the jam. If it adheres to the spoon, remove the jam from the heat and funnel into your sterilized jars with a wide-mouth funnel. Wipe the rim of the jars and top with the lids. Tighten the metal bands finger tight and promptly place in the water bath. Process according recommended time.
After the jars have finished processing carefully remove them from the water bath and place on a clean towel. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed until they have fully cooled. Shortly after removing from the water bath you should be rewarded with a faint popping noise as the jars seal. Any jars that do not seal completely should be stored in the refrigerator and used promptly.
Congratulations, you’ve made your first batch of jam.
*For those wondering about the difference between jams, jellies, and preserves, it’s simple. Jellies are made from fruit juice, jam from crushed fruit, and preserves are from mostly whole fruit.