The weekend before last, I went strawberry picking on the most wonderful weather day in Virginia. I wondered what I could do with a relatively large strawberry haul–there’re are only so many strawberries a girl can eat in one go. Sporterhall (enjoy her delightful blog here) suggested that I make strawberry jam and/or homemade pop tarts–both wonderful ideas! I’m happy to report that I have at least taken the first half under advisement :-).
After I consumed a ridiculous amount of strawberries, I had about 1.5 lbs of those delectable berries left, leaving just enough strawberries to make roughly 2 3/4 Ball jars of strawberry jam. The recipe is easy–I had a harder time canning.
I decided to make jam without added pectin, as strawberries already naturally contain a certain amount. Commercial pectin tends to contain artificial ingredients that I would rather not consume (though you can find natural pectin in some stores). Ergo, this is recipe does not use added pectin.
1 – 2 lbs of strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups brown sugar
First I weighed the strawberries on a kitchen scale to figure out just how much I had left. That gave me a good idea of how much jam I could make (roughly 2 lbs will get you about 2 wide-mouth Ball mason jars worth).
Cut the stems and halve the strawberries. Combine in a large bowl and crush (I used a potato masher, for lack of a better instrument lol).
Pour crushed strawberries into a medium to large pot. Add sugar and lemon juice, then bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.
Let the temperature reach 220 degrees Farenheit. At this point, it is ready to can. If you don’t have a turkey thermometer on hand, there is an easy test to determine if the mixture has been boiled long enough. Freeze a non plastic plate for about 10 minutes. Take a small spoonful of the strawberry mixture and pour onto the plate. Run your finger down the middle of the jam mixture. If it doesn’t run back together, it is ready to can. However, if you intend on using the mixture immediately, or within the next couple days, you do not have to go through the canning process–instead just fill the jar and refrigerate.
The Canning Process:
What you’ll need:
Mason jars (I use the Ball brand)
Large pot (large enough to submerge the jars completely under water
Jar lifter (to lift hot jars out of the water)
Magnetic wand (to remove lids from hot water)
Make sure to first sterilize the jars with warm soapy water.
While you prep the strawberries, bring a large pot to a simmer. Make sure the jars are completely submerged. This method is called “Hot Water Bath Canning.” The jars should be kept warm. That way, they won’t break when you add the hot jam mixture.
Place the center lids in a small saucepan with water, and bring it to a simmer, too.
Lift the jars out of the pot with large tongs. Place on clean paper towels. Then, using the funnel, pour a sufficient amount of jam mixture into each jar. Be sure to leave at least about 1/4 inch of space between the liquid and the top of the jar to allow for expansion during sealing.
Wipe off any spillage on the rim of the jar. You don’t want particles accidentally ruining the sealing process (you’ll have to start all over again). (Optional: mix the jam liquid with a thin spatula, pressing against the walls of the jar to remove excess air bubbles)
Lift the lids out of the hot water with the magnetic wand and dry off with clean paper towel. Carefully line the inner lid over the jar opening and screw the outer lid tightly shut.
Submerge the filled jars back in the large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 – 10 minutes. Be sure to use the tongs to lift the jars out of the pot.
Leave the jars at room temperature to set. Allow to set for 12 – 24 hours. You will know if sealing was successful if, after the allotted setting time, you are able to lift the jar (by the inner lid) off the counter about 2 inches without it falling. Open and refrigerate the can you intend to use and store the other in a cool, dry area. Voila! Homemade strawberry jam just in time for summer. Enjoy!