Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strawberry Jam

I went strawberry picking on Friday since the unusually mild temperatures and recent rain produced an early season of strawberries. With the help of a friend, I found an organic farm about an hour away where you can pick your own strawberries. The strawberries were absolutely perfect and I found it very easy to pick them. I gathered just under 15 pounds of berries in a little over an hour and I was very particular about picking the perfect berries. I really wanted to make several different kinds of jams after experimenting with store-bought strawberries in the fall.

The farm that I went to is a small, family run operation with a wonderful atmosphere. I drove over an hour to get there and once there realized I only had $10.00 in cash on me and some debit/credit cards. The first thing I asked was whether or not they accepted credit cards, which they don't. The owner assured me that it was no problem, as long as I paid my $10.00 and left my name with a note for the remainder of what I owed. The total for my berries came to $42.00 which left me with a balance due of $32.00. This is a relatively small amount, but the fact that I left with my berries and the promise of sending the rest of what I owed, kind of restored my faith in humanity. I know that I will certainly be going back to this farm for many of my produce needs and just for the record, I already mailed my $32.00 check this morning.

These are the strawberries I came home with.

These are all the jars of jam I ended up with by the end of the day on Saturday.

I started by making a double batch of ordinary Strawberry Jam on Friday afternoon which gave me 5 pint sized jars and 9 half-pint jars.

I started right back in this morning by making Strawberry Amaretto Jam, which is just ordinary strawberry jam with Amaretto added in just before canning. I ended up with 8 half-pints and one small jar. I then moved on to Strawberry Rhubarb Jam which netted me 7 jars. My last couple of pounds of berries went into Strawberry Lemon Marmalade which made 8 jars. I ended my venture with 38 jars of homemade jams and marmalade.

I felt very productive after 24 hours of being immersed in strawberries. I often feel like I could have been born in another decade or century with my "back to roots" philosophy of food. I love going to the source and producing every day products.

Strawberry Jam
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving

2 quarts strawberries
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar

Wash strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries, powdered pectin, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skin foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

I love listening for the sounds of each jar snapping as it seals when it cools on the counter after the processing time.

I really enjoy this whole process of turning fruits into a sweet, soft spread to enjoy with homemade breads. Yum! My dilemma will be which jam to try first.

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