with berry season upon us (and in a way, behind us becos of our freakishly warm winter and spring) i thought i'd try my hand at canning. the strawberry crop has been excellent in our area and i wanted to make strawberry jam.
i am not a canner. hubby used to make tomato sauce back in the day, and when we had our grape vines he made grape juice and jelly. we have a section of shelves down cellar full of jars, rings and canning supplies quietly collecting dust.
i used the pioneer woman's recipe for strawberry jam (this is part two, which has the recipe, but it has a linky for part one included) and from what i could ascertain, it's similar to the jam recipe in the sure-jell box.
i started with two quarts of fresh strawberries. i picked through and discarded berries that were squishy or bruised, rinsed then cut the green tops off each berry. i mashed a cup of berries at a time (that's my grandmother's potato masher)
i put the mashed berries, 4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth), half a pat of butter and a box of sure-jell into my enamel pot and brought the mixture to a "violent boil" (PW's words). i added sugar and brought the mixture back to a boil.
as the mixture was cooking i boiled several small jars in my large stock pot (if you have a canning pot use that, as it has a rack; somehow we misplaced our pot and i had to make do with my stock pot with a small round rack to keep the jars off the floor of the pot). in a separate sauce pan i boiled the rings and lids.
i carefully ladled the mixture into jars, wiped the rims, and placed lids and rings on the jars. when all the mixture was jarred, i carefully returned the jars to the stock pot and brought the water back to a "violent" boil. sadly, i have no pictures of this process, but this is the results of it...
i loved hearing the lids pop! hopefully it means that everything sealed correctly!
this is what i had for sunday lunch:
very tasty jam, but so sweet! i'm not used to eating sweets. or maybe this is what homemade jam is supposed to taste like, and the store variety is dulled down.
i gave jars of jam to my dad and FIL for father's day, and look forward to enjoying this summer's goodness for the upcoming year!
making jam is not hard. while it's time consuming and messy, i found that cleaning up as i went along and wiping up spills as they occurred made things easier. i want to make cherry preserves for my dad (it's his favorite fruit) and later this summer i want to buy grapes at mertz's and make grape jelly (i'm a grape jelly girl). we also plan to make more tomato sauce this year (last year we made a small batch, and we're hoping to find a kid-free weekend to do this). it'd be fun to put up peaches too.
canning and putting up produce is growing in popularity in these tight economic times. it's a great way to add to your pantry plus you control the ingredients. i also felt awesome knowing i made jam myself - feeling self sufficient is awesome!