Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I HEART...Homemade Strawberry Jam


Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!


I love summer. I hate the heat, but I love the food. We have a couple of great produce stands near the house and my mama has a small garden. She's put up a little squash from her garden, and yesterday, we put up a bushel of pink-eyed purple hull peas that I bought. I've gotten some good Chilton County peaches and some great cantaloupes from the stands, too.

As good as the local produce is, I still buy most of my fruit at Costco. Strawberries are a dime a dozen right now. Well, pretty close at least. I have been getting these big two pound packages at Costco for less than $4 each. Throw in a dollar package of Sure-jell and a new box of Ball jar lids, and for about $10, I made a dozen pints of homemade strawberry jam. It's so simple, and despite all the sugar (brace yourselves before you see the recipe!), I still think it's better for you that store-bought jellies full of high fructose corn syrup.

Here's what you need:

4 pounds fresh strawberries
10 cups sugar
one package Sure-Jell
12 sterilized pint jars, lids and rings


Begin by washing and stemming your strawberries
and then cut them into small pieces.
I like my jam to have some body so I don't cut them up too small.


Go ahead and measure out your sugar.
You will need to have it ready to pour right into your boiling fruit and won't need to take time later to measure it out.


Add your fruit and Sure-Jell to a dutch oven
along with a teaspoon of butter.
The butter helps to keep the fruit
from developing a lot of foam as it cooks.


Bring your fruit to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.


Before I started my fruit, I covered my lids and rings with water
and brought them to a boil, then reduced to a simmer.
I had already run my jars through the dishwasher to sterilize them.
I had them set out on the counter on a towel, ready to go.

(Remember - jars and rings are reusable, but when you are canning, you should always use new lids to ensure a better seal. I do run used lids through the dishwasher after I finish a jar of jam and then keep them in a separate place from new lids. The used sterilized lids are fine to use when you are making salad dressing or just storing something that doesn't need a seal to last.)  


Once your fruit comes to a boil, add your sugar and stir it well.
Above you will see how sometimes the sugar clumps
when it gets coated with the fruit juices.


Be sure to break these clumps up and stir until the sugar is distributed and all lumps are dissolved.


Return to a rolling boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.


I moved my dutch oven from the stove to my island, where I had my jars ready on a towel (to minimize mess). This funnel is made especially for canning and the wide mouth really makes it easy to fill the jars. Fill jars to 1/2" from top. CAREFULLY use a wet rag to wipe the tops of the jar clean. (If there is any fruit on the mouth of the jar, the lids will not seal properly.)


Using tongs, carefully add a lid and ring to each jar.
Hand tighten (with a towel) enough that the lid is pushed down
and water cannot enter the jar.


Lower the jars into a large pot of boiling water. The water should cover the jars by about two inches. You can use tongs, but they can slip and you don't want to drop the jar into boiling water that splashes up on you. These canning tongs are made to fit the contours of the jar rings and makes it easier and safer to lower jars into and out of the boiling water. 


Once the jars are in the water, reduce to medium low heat and let it boil gently for 8-10 minutes.
It took me two batches to get all 12 jars done.
I don't have a fancy canner with a basket.
I just use these big stockpots and it works great!


Carefully remove the jars and allow them to cool on a towel. Over the next 15-20 minutes, you will hear the lids seal. Once they are cool, be sure to tighten the ring. Every once in a while, I will have one that doesn't seal. Usually because I didn't wipe the jar mouth good before putting the lid on. I have had some success taking the lids off, cleaning them up, and then putting them back into the boiling bath and had them to seal correctly the second time. But if you just have one or two that don't seal, simply put them in the refrigerator and use them first. The others can be stored for a year to 18 months. Just keep them in a cool, dark place.


These make great hostess or teacher gifts. I pulled out a few of my Stampin' Up supplies and made a cute little label. I took some brown craft paper and stamped "a little yummy for your tummy" on it and then ran it through a crimper. 


 I had some little labels left over from the mason jar pincushions we made in Summer Sewing School a couple of weeks ago, and I stamped a strawberry on one side...


and wrote the date I canned the jam on the other.


Who wouldn't love to receive this sweet treat?!

I've already given two away, but that still leaves 10 jars for me!

Mama told me this morning that she found two ripe figs on the tree today. They should be ready to pick in a few days. I'll be making fig jam as soon as I get enough. Gerald loves the standard fig recipe, but my favorite is Mock Raspberry Jam. I'll share that recipe with you as soon as I make it!

Hope you'll stop by again soon!

**************************

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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