Strawberry Jam / Hello

24 Jul

ImageToday, over a month after I actually completed this project, I’m going to talk about making Strawberry Jam. I know, I know. Strawberries aren’t even in season anymore. I promise I’ll be more prompt in the future. Now that you’ve forgiven me, let’s move on.
I’d never made jam before this endeavor. It was an adventure, but it was well worth it. I mean, really well worth it. So let’s start at the beginning:

Strawberry picking

I decided to pick my own strawberries in an attempt to save money. This would’ve been an even better idea if I didn’t pick way too many strawberries. I wanted to make a lot of jam, so I thought 16 quarts of strawberries would do the trick. It did the trick. And then some. Sixteen quarts is way too many. Don’t make my mistake. I think you need about four quarts to complete the recipe I made. Which brings us to the recipe. I used a wonderful recipe from a wonderful canning blog called Food in Jars. Here is the link to the original post with the recipe. I love this recipe because unlike most jam recipes, it has a 1:2 ratio of sugar to fruit, whereas most have an equal amount of sugar to fruit. You could say this is health food.

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The first step in the process (and by far the most tedious) is to chop the strawberries into teeny tiny pieces. I used the machine pictured above (similar here), and it made the process go a lot quicker. But it still took a very long time. I more than tripled the recipe, so I ended up with about 40 cups of strawberries that I cooked in two batches. After chopping the strawberries, you add sugar and a sliced vanilla bean and let it rest overnight to make delicious juices.

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Now comes the stressful part. The actual making of the jam. Pictured above are all the ingredients (minus the vanilla bean, which is hiding in the bowl). Keep in mind that I didn’t measure the amount of strawberries I put in. Don’t take after me. Measure all of your ingredients, and life will be easier. You essentially put all the ingredients (except the pectin) into a big ol’ bowl and let the concoction get syrup-y, and then you crush the strawberries to make it more like jam and less like preserves. Since I like a chunky jam, I used a potato masher rather than an immersion blender to crush my strawberries. It worked perfectly. After this step, you add the pectin. Unfortunately, I have very few pictures of this process because I was busy having a major panic attack over whether I had enough sugar (again, measure your ingredients!). Once you add the pectin, you let it cook a while longer until it becomes jam. I did the “plate test” to figure out when mine was finished. Before starting jam-making, put a few dessert plates in the freezer. If you think the jam is done, put a spoonful of jam on a cold plate and wait a couple minutes. If it has a certain amount of solidity to it after a few minutes, it’s done.

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After the jam is done, it’s time to put it in jars. This was also my first time canning. Supposedly, you should heat your jars before adding jam, or the heat from the jam plus the room-temperature glass could cause the glass to crack. This didn’t happen to me, but in my second batch, I put the jars in a brownie pan and threw them in the oven for a few minutes before filling them with jam. Once the jars are full, it’s time to add lids. The lids should be heated up in a pot of (not boiling) water before putting them on the jars to soften the sealing compound. The next part is easy. Pop some lids on, and screw the bands on about halfway. Don’t tighten them more than that. Then it’s time to process. You put the jars in a pot of boiling water with a canning rack (or, if you’re desperate, a pot of boiling water with a folded towel at the bottom). You don’t want your jars to touch the bottom of the pot. This is another area where glass-cracking happens. Then you process the jars for 10 minutes, and take them out of the water with tongs. Shortly after, you should hear a distinct popping noise, signaling that they’re officially sealed. The pop is my favorite part. Once sealed, let them sit for 24 hours to make sure they’re sealed well. After that, eat! It’s good on PB&J, toast, ice cream and everything else in the world basically.

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3 Responses to “Strawberry Jam / Hello”

  1. Sara May 7, 2013 at 11:59 PM #

    Looks wonderful! I am confused about the sugar amounts however… Is it 5 cups total or 7 cups? Thank you!

    • sreagle May 8, 2013 at 2:23 PM #

      It’s 7 cups total — you add two cups during the maceration stage before you let the 10 cups of strawberries sit in the fridge overnight, and you add another five cups of sugar when you start cooking on the stove.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blackberry Jam and Lessons Learned While Jamming « Tea Time & Tulle - August 6, 2012

    […] 15 pints of blackberries at the flea market. It felt like my time had come. I’ve only once made jam before, but I felt more confident this time around. The hardest part about making jam is knowing […]

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