Sunday, June 19, 2011

easy strawberry jam

Yesterday morning I was out in the fields of Clearbrook Farm in neighboring Shaftsbury, Vermont picking berries. U-pick operations are fairly popular around here, and for localvores there is nothing better than hopping in the car and ripping your produce right off the stem. It was a muggy, overcast morning, but a lot of folks were out. All ages and shapes were among those red rubies, some filling their baseball hats and others like me loading up cardboard flats. I had plans for jam. That afternoon I'd take these babies and cook them over a sweet-smelling stove top. Mmmm.

Making Strawberry Jam is easy. You just need a package of powdered pectin (you can get this at the grocery store), lemon juice, sugar, and 2 quarts of strawberries. You fill a saucepan with the de-stemmed berries, and mash them with a potato masher till you have a lumpy goop. Turn on the stovetop and add in your package of pectin, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and stir it together. Let it rise to a rolling boil (stirring occasionally as you get there so nothing burns to your pan) and once it's boiling add your sugar a cup at a time. I add 3 1/2 cups and mix it in till it feels dissolved.

Once all ingredients are in, and the sugar got a good minute at a full boil, I move it off the stove and ladle it into sterilized jars. They are boiled in the canner for ten minutes and then pulled out to cool on a cloth on the stove. When you hear that loud POP of the lid sealing shut, you know you did it right.

The whole process takes about 40 minutes, and I made 5 pint jam jars with those 2 quarts of berries. That's a lot of jam, folks. That's like picking up 5 jars of smuckers at the grocery store and putting them in your home cabinet. I bet you wouldn't go through that all in nearly a year. Not a bad deal for $6.50 in organic U-pick strawberries!

For detailed instructions, go to freshpreserving.com, or pick up a copy of the famous Blue Book of Preserving, at any hardware or farm store. It covers everything and only costs less then a box of jam jars. Enjoy!

24 Comments:

OpenID mollymakesdo said...

I just picked up my blue book last week and am waiting for the perfect day get out to our local u-pick! My goal this year is strawberry jam and at least one variety of pickles - not a lot but a good place to start to weaning myself away from the flavors of store bought canned foods!

June 19, 2011 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Lissa B. said...

Ha! I just left a comment under the photo of your haul asking for a jam recipe! Great minds, I guess! This looks so good, I can smell it from here...time to break out the water bath!

June 19, 2011 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I love the sound of a sealing jar!

June 19, 2011 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Yummy, oh Yummy! Your making my mouth water! Great work, farm to table...I popped the seal on a half pint of homemade orange marmalade this very morning, there is nothing like that "I did this" feeling. It was great, I am so glad you know that joy too.

June 19, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Hi Jenna, it looks like in the photo you have a flat top stove. I've read in several places that those enamel water boilers won't work well on the flat tops and neither will cast iron skillets for that matter. Have you had to make any adjustments or just not had any problems?
I've been using a pressure canner on my flat top, but its so big and heavy... I've been thinking about taking out my stove and putting the old standard type with coils in its place.
Anyone else can or use cast iron on a flat top?
Thanks :-)

June 19, 2011 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I use cast iron and the canner on the stove.... no problems here. All the jars sealed, i cook with cast iron every day.

why do they say that?

June 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I don't know? Last summer I went to buy a Ball enamel boiler and it even said on the package "not recommended for flat top stove".
Haha, I think I've become to compliant.... use to I would have never paid any attention to "recommendations".
Glad to hear you don't have any problems, I'm going to try it now- cheaper and easier than replacing a stove!

June 19, 2011 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Helena said...

Heather--We have a glass-top stove, and I've used cast iron on it for the last six years (since we moved in), and in the last six months have been using a huge pressure canner without lid as a water bath canner. I haven't had problems with either. I took a canning class at the local co-op, and the instructor said the two main reasons not to can on glass-top stoves are 1-the weight of the canner can cause crazing and 2-it can take a long time to get the water to a boil because the burners turn on and off rather than just staying hot. She said if you are not having either problem then you're probably fine, but she was obligated to tell us it wasn't recommended.

Hope that helps!
Helena

June 19, 2011 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Very helpful, thanks Helena! :-)

June 19, 2011 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

OK, this might be dumb, but when you say "two quarts" of berries, do you mean before or after they are cut up? I really want to get into canning and jelly making, but I'm hesitant because some of the terms are confusing to me.

June 19, 2011 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

We picked 38 pounds of the berries today.

June 19, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Karen - the measurement is for whole or cut up fruit, not cooked down. I made 6 jars of blueberry a few weeks ago and now that blackberries are coming in that is on my list as well. These nothing better than homemade jam on homemade biscuits or toast.

June 20, 2011 at 12:54 AM  
Blogger leafonatree said...

Mmmm, sounds so good. :)

June 20, 2011 at 1:37 AM  
Blogger Coco said...

My understanding is that the glass stove top can crack during canning. I read a blog recently where it happened (after the loud pop she was expecting to find sticky jam all over her kitchen from an exploding jar, but her new stove was ruined instead).

June 20, 2011 at 2:43 AM  
Blogger mmgreenough said...

Only 3 1/2 cups of sugar!?!?!?! Both recipes I follow say to use 7 cups (with 2 qt. of berries) & not to use less or the jam may not set properly! Each time I think. "Gosh that's a lot of sugar!" I think I will start reducing mine by a small amount each time and see how I make out. That jam on you biscuit sure doesn't look runny!

June 20, 2011 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger farmgirljen said...

I think one of my favorite sounds in the world is that little "pop" on my canning jars. As I muddle about, cleaning up after whatever canning I've done, I keep an ear towards those jars and giggle and grin like a little kid when I hear one go. Life doesn't get much better than that, does it?

June 20, 2011 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger wanda barrett said...

I've done a few small batches of canning on my ceramic stove - I just use a big stock pot rather than a canner. If I were to get into canning large batches,

There is discussion of the problems with some canners and some ceramic stoves here: http://www.pickyourown.org/cannings4glasstop.htm

June 20, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Hound Doggy said...

When I was looking at getting a new stove, I did not get a flat top because the top can crack using cast iron because of the heat generated and retained.

June 20, 2011 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger kristina said...

i added in some vanilla bean with a smidge of rum... so good!

June 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Lael said...

Freezer jam is even easier for those of you concerned about whether or not your stove top works for canning. And if you use the Ball Instant Pectin in the jar (as opposed to the Sure Jell in cardboard packages), you use quite a bit less sugar.

June 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

Jenna,
Let us see if that's enough jam. Last summer I got two flats of local strawberries so ripe they were purple. They went straight into my lobster pot, I had so many of them. I jammed 3 cases of pint jelly jars and it didn't last the winter (3 kids and one BF). So, as you fall in love with your handiwork, you will probably pull the last jar from your pantry in January and wish for the Strawberry Moon of summer again.

June 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger jen said...

You're so cute--"last a year"! You obviously don't have a 6-foot 15 year old boy living with you eating PB & Js every day of his life. :o)

June 21, 2011 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

That sure looks yummy! I still have my jam from last year. The darn stuff never set, but it sure is tasty stirred into yogurt!

Something I learned this year by actually *reading* the instructions in the Ball Blue Book (for once) is that the "pop" sound does not necessarily mean that the jar is sealed. After 24 hours, you need to remove the rings and then gently pull on the lid. If it does not come off then it's been properly sealed.
Who knew, huh?

July 14, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Dewolf's U Pick Farm said...

recipe sounds delicious. Gonna do it with our strawberries once they are ready for u pick in new jersey.

April 14, 2012 at 5:34 PM  

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