Strawberry Jam

This week’s cookbook is the Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It’s going to be a little different.  It isn’t really a recipe per-se, but more of a set of instructions.

Here is an excerpt from the book so you can see for yourself: “Fresh fruits and juices as well as commercially canned or frozen fruit juice can be used with commercially prepared powdered or liquid pectins. The order of combining  ingredients depends on the type of pectin used. Complete directions for a variety of fruits are provided with packaged pectin. Jelly or jam made with added pectin requires less cooking and generally gives a larger yield. These products have more natural fruit flavors, too. In addition, using added pectin eliminates the need to test hot jellies and jams for proper gelling. Adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine with the juice and pectin will reduce foaming. However, these may cause off-flavor in long-term storage of jellies and jams. … Be sure to use Mason canning jars, self-sealing two-piece lids. … Purchase fresh pectin each year. Old pectin may result in poor gels. Follow the instructions with each package.”

Before you get mad and start throwing things at the screen, let me assure you that you are getting a bonus recipe this week, and you won’t be disappointed.  🙂

I have been looking forward to doing this one for awhile. Back in the fall at state fair time, Rose Hoban over at WUNC did a story entitled My Obsession with Jam.   After we started our blogging and came to the canning book, it reminded me of this story, but unfortunately, it was the dead of winter and there was no fresh produce to be found.  We decided to wait until strawberry season, and pick some strawberries to make jam.  When I saw the strawberry stands open up this week, I knew it was time.  We went to Porter Farms and picked a bucket of strawberries and brought them home to put up as jam.

Porter Farms Strawberry field in Willow Springs, where we picked our bucket of berries!

On to the cookbook.   If you are going to do any canning, I highly recommend that you purchase and read this book.  Canning is one of those areas where if you mess up, you will die (that’s why you didn’t get a recipe).  Canning requires lots of pots, pans, and space, attention to detail and sanitation, but it is not very difficult, and it is extremely rewarding.  This cookbook is a great tool to help with all the information that seems to be assumed knowledge in canning. I don’t know about you, but we are newbies and didn’t know very much before reading this book. We have successfully canned salsa, tomatoes, pickles, and freezer jam in the past. This is our first foray into cooked jam. It is definitely not the last!

These strawberries are washed and capped - ready to be crushed for jam-making!

Here the strawberries are cooking, not yet up to a rolling boil.

Filling the jars with the hot jam mixture.

Removing the Jars from the boiling water canner.

Finished jam cooling on a rack.

You may have noticed our nifty funnel and jar lifter. These tools came in a handy canning set by Ball, and we love them! (Not pictured are a head space measuring stick and magnetic seal lifter.) Before we found this set I had bought a special stainless steel funnel to use because filling the jars without one is no fun at all. It didn’t work any better and the plastic one is not as cumbersome.

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