I’m pretending like this is a throwback Thursday. Just because I found the pictures I took and I wanted to share. (I also unpacked all the jars of jam last night and put them on their place and I thought it would be a great blog post)
About a month ago, the fiance and I headed to visit my parents in Virginia Beach and take my Mom strawberry picking. I usually make a TON of strawberry freezer jam, but the last batch was two years ago and has finally run out. This year I wanted to make regular canned jam so that I didn’t have to depend on the freezer and take up valuable space.
In about an hour we picked 25+ pounds of berries. They’re okay this year – not particularly sweet like they have been in the past. We’re thinking its because of the weather. They were already a couple weeks late anyway. No danger of this year’s jam tasting like candy! (one year, wow – they were sweet and I forgot to adjust the sugar….)
I spent a good two hours cleaning and slicing strawberries, and here’s what it looked like. Its in the old kitchen, so ignore the packing mess on the counter.
You can’t tell, but those mixing bowls are pretty big. It made a LOT of strawberry jam. Add to it that I packed the food processor, so I was using that clear cup in my smoothie blender to crush the strawberries…. it got messy. REALLY messy.
I also learned another important lesson. I bought the big container of pectin. But I didn’t read the label, and its been a couple of years since I made jam. I ran out of pectin and sugar in the middle and had to call the fiance to bring me some. Oops. Next time, I’ll over-buy rather than not have enough.
I also made one of the batches with a vanilla bean added in. At first taste (licking the spoon) it didn’t have much vanilla flavor. But we opened a jar I took to the parents a few weeks ago, and there’s definitely a background note of vanilla. Its good! I’ll be interested to see if it gets stronger with other jars that are yet unopened. I also ran out of lemon juice for the last batch and made up the other half of what I needed with red wine vinegar (with 5% acidity.) I figured since you can replace lemon juice with balsamic in some recipes, it should be fine. I’m not endorsing messing with canning recipes, mind you. If you aren’t comfortable with that kind of thing, don’t do it! It didn’t set up quite as nicely as the first batch, but I also did a batch and a half, which probably affected things as well. You really shouldn’t do double recipes of jam. It screws with the way the pectin works. Every once in a while I try it, and it always turns out more liquid than I planned.
In the end, I made 10 half-pints, 4 quarter pints, and 4 regular pints of jam. Everything sealed and it all looks pretty good. I’ve given away a few jars to family and friends, and while we still have a lot left, it probably won’t be enough. The homemade jam goes quick around here!
The recipe I followed was from Ball’s website:
You will need:
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
2.) COMBINE strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
3.) ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
4.) LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.Delicious Variations (there are others listed on their website, I only included the one I tried)Vanilla Strawberry Jam:
Add half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, to the crushed strawberries. Cook as directed and remove vanilla bean before ladling jam into jars. The resulting jam will be enhanced with subtle yet distinct vanilla overtones.