Homemade: Strawberry Jam

HOMEMADE
Strawberry Jam

My First Homemade Jam: Strawberry

While I was shopping yesterday, I was forced to take advantage of the incredible abundance of Strawberries available at our local grocery due to a huge strawberry surplus in the market. Normally, Florida strawberries are available in January and February and then California takes over in March and April. But due to unseasonably cold temps this year, all of the Florida and California berries are on the market at the same time - and the market is flooded! And I was able to purchase 8 pounds of strawberries for a mere 50¢ per pound. We normally pay twice that when there is a REALLY good sale, and 4 times that on a regular old non-sale day. 

So, what to do with 8 POUNDS of strawberries? Make Homemade Jam, of course! My friend Alexis is lucky enough to have a 'Jelly Setting' on her bread maker. I am not so lucky. My bread maker has a hard time making good bread, let alone jelly! So I fished around on the web and found a site that had a pretty good 'how to' on making your own. And if you've never made your own, it has everything you need to know about it. 

Here it is what I did, in a nutshell:

INGREDIENTS:
  • Strawberries - 8 cups unprepared (which means semi-prepared: washed, hulled, and cut into chunks) 
  • Pectin - 2 boxes of the all natural variety
  • Sugar - about 4 cups
OTHER STUFF YOU NEED:
  • Canning Jars (or any other glass container that you can sterilize and seal shut)
  • A Big Pot
  • A Spoon
  • Tongs of some sort (canning tongs would have been a plus, but my regular old Martha Everyday tongs did the trick and I only dropped two jars - thankfully neither one broke and I only scalded myself a little bit.)
Now, there are a ton of items that make canning easier, but these are the MUST have items. 

THE METHOD:
  • Sterilize your jars. I boiled a big pot of water and gave mine a bath. Reserve a bit of this water to warm your lids with a bit later. 
  • Prepare your fruit. I washed, hulled, and cut the strawberries until I had 8 cups. Then I tossed them into the food processor to 'mash' them up. After that I had about 6 cups.
  • Put the mashed fruit in the pan with the pectin and about 1/4 cup of your sugar. Stir it up.
  • Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat, stirring often so it doesn't burn. You are at a boil when stirring the mixture doesn't stop the bubbles from forming. 
  • Add the rest of your sugar, stirring well. 
  • Return to a rapid boil, stirring often. When you get there, boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
  • Heat up your lids in a bowl/pot of hot (but not boiling) water. I used some I reserved from the sterilizing process. 
  • Skim the foam off the top of the jam mixture and reserve for later. 
  • Let your mixture set for 5 minutes, then stir it up one more time
  • Pour it in your jars. Fill to 1/4" from the top. Wipe of any bits and globs that got on the lip and then put the lids and rings on. Make sure they are on tight. Be careful here: they are quite hot!
  • Wash out your pot and fill it back up with water. Bring it to a boil and place your tightly closed jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes. There should be about 2" of water over the top of the jars.
  • Remove the jars, set in a safe place and let cool, undisturbed, overnight. 
  • Check your seal - the button should be down. If it didn't seal, you can re-process it (so they say). 
  • Bam, you have jam.  

WHAT ABOUT THAT BOWL OF FOAM?
  • After letting it come to room temp, skim off the foam and discard it.
  • What's left is yummy 'fresh' jam. Eat it up right then and there! We used ours as ice cream topping and it was insanely good. 
My first batch, yesterday, was pure strawberry goodness. I made another batch today and came up a little short on strawberries (the massively good deal on berries was partly due to some of them being a bit over ripe). So I topped off my 6 cups of cut fresh berries with about 3/4 cup frozen black raspberries and 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries. And the result: Insane Mystery Mixed Berry Jam. And it's also insanely good. 

MY COST:
  • Berries: 1 flat of strawberries @ $3.99 and about $1.50 worth of frozen fruit: $5.50
  • Pectin: 4 boxes @ $2.39 each: $9.56
  • Sugar: 8 cups - we'll call it a 5# bag, just to be safe: $2.99
  • Jars: 12 half pint jelly jars (I had a few more sitting in my cupboard): $8.00 
$26.05 for 7 half pint jars of Strawberry Jam and 8 half pint jars of Insane Mystery Mixed Berry Jam. That's about $1.74 per jar! Store bought runs about $3 per jar and homemade jam at markets and online run $4-6 per jar!! 

So, if you are feeling thrifty - and have a few hours to blow, take advantage of the abundance of ripe, cheap strawberries and make yourself  some jam! Not only is it great to eat, it makes great gifts! And if you processed it right, it will keep for about 12 months! 

Happy Jamming!

2 comments:

MidwestMo said...

My mouth is watering! You make it seem so easy - I might try it.

Mom's Place said...

Looks yummy!!! I have a bunch of berried and cherries in my freezer that I need to make into jam. Plan is next weekend...assuming that I can get my cabinets stained this week!

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