Sunday, July 13, 2008

Strawberry Jam

Friday night I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. making and canning my first batch of strawberry jam. Why, you ask, was I pulling cans out a boiling water bath at 2:30 in the morning? Well, I had finally received my canning equipment after getting the wrong set from the canning company, and Thursday night at Bellflower's Street Fest I had bought strawberries from the "farmer's market" booths. While we were at the Street Fest I forgot to take any pictures of Maddie, or anything else for that matter, so "The Adventures of Maddie - Bellflower Street Fest Edition" will have to wait until next Thursday!

I had taken a look at the strawberries Friday morning and they were looking a bit sketchy, so I knew I had to make the jam that day or lose the $15 I spent on the fruit. Maddie didn't go to bed until 11:30, so I didn't get started on the jamming and canning until midnight. I was really disappointed with the quality of the strawberries, I had bought nine little green baskets, and I only managed to get about 6 cups of good strawberries, resulting in 4 cups of mashed berries. My directions were very specific about using over-ripe fruit, basically canning will not improve the quality, more likely it will decrease the quality. So, I ended up throwing away a lot more berries than I was happy with.

Bad berries aside, the actual jam making and canning seems pretty straight forward and easy once you get the hang of it. I managed to get a lovely thick jam, with lots of chunky pieces, it's almost all chunky pieces actually and SO tasty. I used Pomona Universal Pectin, which lets you use less sugar, and I only used 1 cup of sugar to my four cup of berries, giving my jam a nice sweet/tart taste.

I then got to ladle my hot jam into hot jars (straight from the heated dry cycle in the dishwasher) through a special canning funnel, and then screw on the lids and bands (straight from being sterilized in hot water, my canning kit has a cool little dealy-joby thing with a magnet on the end to get them out of the water), all of this was very . . . hot. Then, I got to stick them in boiling water, that was 1 -2 inches over their top for 5 minutes or so, and then pull the out with a jar grabber do-hicky. I did drop one jar on the kitchen floor, and oh my goodness, it did not break! Wow! So I just grabbed it back up with the grabber (duh) and put it with the others. 12 hours later I got to push down on the lids to make sure they were sealed, and they all were! Yay for me and for my fabulous jam. Jam, jam, a-jamma!

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