Monday, May 07, 2007

Strawberry Jam

I have five pretty jars of strawberry jam cooling on my kitchen counter. I should have had more, but I messed up the recipe. That’s okay though; at least it worked! Or appears to have worked, as I can’t test the seals until tomorrow morning.
Canning day didn’t start auspiciously. Last night before going to bed I cleaned down the entire kitchen, right down to scrubbing the stove grates. I thought that all I would have to this morning would be to wipe everything down with vinegar. Wrong. My cats decided that they had to check out my handiwork overnight, and I got up to find cat hair all over the stove and counters. So I had to clean them again.
After that, I cleaned the jars, lids, and bands, and set them to dry. I took the strawberries from the fridge and discovered that I’d accidentally left some water in the bowl and overnight some of them had started to spoil. There wasn’t enough left to make some the jam, so I had to go to the farmer’s market to get some more.
That was when my luck started to change. A friend had asked me to run him up to this place that’s hiring this morning so he could get an application. I did that before going to the farmer’s market, and when we got there it was just after noon. The truck from the strawberry farm was late today –it was literally just leaving, so they had buckets of strawberries to pick through! And when the lady in charge learned that I was trying to learn to can, she not only made me a deal on a GALLON of strawberries, but gave me some tips on how to can them!
We came back to the house (my friend hung around to help) and washed the strawberries. I wiped everything down with vinegar, assembled the tools, and spread out some clean towels. Then we got to work. I used the recipe from the Ball Blue Book. We hulled two quarts of strawberries and crushed them with a potato masher. Then I mixed them in my big stockpot with six cups of sugar and brought it to a boil. I reduced the heat to a soft boil and cooked it for a little over the recommended forty minutes, until I was sure it had gelled. I think I actually cooked it a little bit too long, but it still came out all right. At the same time I heated the jars and the lids. Then we packed the jars, leaving the required 1/4” headroom (which I actually measured with a ruler, lol), sealed the jars, and processed them for 15 minutes in the boiling water canner. They’re now cooling on the kitchen counter.
Overall, how did it go? It turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. I was really nervous. The whole process took about two hours from start to finish. It was a lot easier with two people; packing and sealing the jars was much easier with four hands to do all the work.
The jam itself came out really good. We ate much of the leftovers, and the rest will go with breakfast tomorrow. Even if the jars didn’t seal right, I’ll still have jam, as I have some freezer containers and will freeze it if the canning doesn’t work. So, I’m going to have several pints of jam to last me the next year –for the cost of a few strawberries, some sugar, some lids, and some time. They are local strawberries and I know exactly what’s in that jam. And of course, tonight I get to have a strawberry pie. Hey –I have to eat up those leftover strawberries somehow.
Here’s to eating local!

Labels: , ,


Blogger Moonwaves said...

Hi there

It's good to hear about someone's first experience with canning. I'm hoping to try it this summer too but it seems much easier to get supplies in the States than here (for example a boiler - I'll just be looking for a big stockpot to use I think). Am hoping to find a friend who's done it before and offer to help them before attempting it on my own. Your experience sounds like it was good though, that's encouraging for me.

5/11/2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger RAS said...

Good luck, moonwaves. You might want to look online for supplies. A lot of companies sell them and will ship.

5/14/2007 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice. You might want to look in the trees round your area or ask old timers if there are fox grapes around. We have lots of fox grapes on the vines running wild down the roads here and they make the best grape jelly you've ever tasted. You need at least five cups of juice from them to make jelly.

And best of all, they are free.

8/13/2007 6:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home