Mid-Winter Strawberry Jam

strawberry jam -photoOn of my favorite parts of late Spring – early Summer is Strawberry season.  Fresh, locally grown strawberries are a delicacy second to none.  This past strawberry season I made homemade strawberry jam for the first time.  Not only was it my first time ever making strawberry jam, but my first time making any kind of jam and my first time canning anything.  I had been really wanting to take a class in canning but two years had gone by and I had found now class, so I watched a few youtube videos on in and felt ready to go.

I cut about 10 quarts of strawberries and diligently followed my recipe – not something I tend to do well… when all the jars later “popped” I learned my first experience had been a canning success. The jam was out of this world.  So much better than store bought jam.  Lisa teased me that we would have strawberry jam forever.

Flash forward to October.  We are out of strawberry jam.  My sister-in-law suggested that strawberry-peach jam was really the way to go.  Strawberries and peaches are both way out of season.  So I decided to try making jam with frozen fruit.  First try was so bad it couldn’t be eaten.  Second try was better, but I mixed frozen fruit with out-of-season fresh peaches and I learned a valuable lesson.  Frozen fruit is not for jam! So I decided I would have to wait until stawberry season to make more.

Then I walk into Price Chopper the other day and they have have a HUGE display of fresh, US grown (Florida) Strawberries for $3.99/pound.  Off season strawberries had always come from far away and while they looked like strawberries they have never tasted like them.  Well these strawberries were beautiful and after a sample pound were found quite delicious, I decided to try mid-winter jam. Success! Yeah.  We have strawberry jam!

Mid-Winter Strawberry Jam

Yield: 10 1/2 12 oz jars

I bought 8 lbs of strawberries, but two go eaten before I got started, so…

  • 6 pounds strawberries, washed and cut up nicely
  • 12 cups white sugar
  • 2 boxes premium fruit pectin – I always use Sure-Jell
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Step 1. Place all the cut up strawberries into a large stock pan and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently.  Add the Sure Jell and butter. The little bit of butter keeps your jam from being too frothy.  Doesn’t change the taste but keeps out most of the air bubbles in the finished jam.

jam-pan-photoStep 2. While this is cooking I sterilize my ball jars and the screw top piece.  Don’t boil the flat part of the lid or you might not get a good seal when you can.  I have a giant stock pan I use and a round cooling rack that fits nicely in the bottom.  This allows me to sterilize the jars and keeps them off the bottom of the pan.

Step 3. Measure out the 12 cups of white sugar.  Don’t skimp or your jam won’t set right.  Too much sugar and your jam will taste like the candy part of candied apples.

Step 4. When your strawberry fruit mixture is at a ROLLING BOIL – it must be bubbling even while you are stirring the mixture – keep stirring for 2-3 minutes and then add in the sugar.  Again, keep stirring to get all the sugar nicely incorporated with the fruit and continue to stir until it returns to a rolling boil. Keep stirring for an additional 2-3 minutes.  There is chemistry here and this boiling time is critical to the success of the jam!

Step 5. Turn heat off under jam. Remove jars and lids from sterilization bath.  Place funnel (I have a ball jar funnel) over lid of sterile jar and scoop jam in until it is about 1 cm from the top of the jar.  Wipe the rim with a hot, wet paper towel, place the flat lid on, then the screw lid and close tightly.  Turn upside down on a towel. Repeat until all your jars are filled. Make sure all jars get turned upside down for at least one minute.

Step 6. Return filled jars, right-side up, to the boiling water in your giant stock pan.  Make sure jars are not directly on the bottom of the pan. Water should cover the entire jar by about 1 inch. Allow to stay in bath for 10 minutes.  Remove to counter.

Step 7. Allow to cool slowly to room temperature.  Strawberry jam usually sets overnight but it can take a couple of days to fully set.

strawberry jam photo2Step 8. Eat on everything.  Eat with toast and butter.  Peanut butter and Jelly.  Or, one of my favorites; cracker, cheese, jalepeno pepper, dab of jam!

Soon it will be strawberry season, but until then I have some really nice strawberry jam to get me through the rest of winter.

 

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