Last night in a fairly easy but messy process, Mr. Geek and I made strawberry jam.
Thankfully, Soren played happily by himself in the living room. I shudder to think what may have have happened if he was underfoot. After all, yesterday's strawberry picking wasn't exactly picture-perfect, with rocks to be hurled and all.
We washed up the dinner dishes and got to work sterilizing the jars.
I got out my trusty enamel pot, set water to a rolling boil, and dropped the jars and lids in. Though the pectin package came with Ball's instructions, I found much advice from this site on making strawberry jam (and info about places to pick your own fruit). I was appalled at how much sugar the Ball instructions called for --7 cups!!! Considering the amount of crushed berries was 5 cups, it meant that the jam was more than half sugar. Does that shock you too?
I used a recipe with a lot less sugar (4 cups) though in the end my jam was a bit runnier than most. I should have added more pectin but was uncertain how that might affect things. It still tastes very sweet, and I don't mind it being a little less "jelled". It will be fabulous over ice cream.
As the jars were boiling, I cut off the stems of the berries and put them in a measuring cup.
All those tops looked nice in the compost bin too.
Then I mushed up the berries with a potato masher, to break down the fruit and release some of the natural pectin. I mashed it some more in the pot once I got the measurement.
I mixed the pectin with some of the sugar, then stirred it into the berries.
Then turned on the heat and got the mixture bubbling. I cooked it for a bit, added the rest of the sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and set it to a rolling boil, where the bubbles wouldn't go away even when you're stirring constantly.
Keep stirring and boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
I skimmed off the foam, more for aesthetic reasons than culinary ones. We tasted some of it and it was good, but foamy.
Then we started spooning it into the jars using a ladle and a funnel. This is definitely the messy part.
While we were filling, the canning pot was still boiling, waiting for the filled jars. Mr. Geek wiped the rims of the jars and capped them, then lowered them into the pot.
We boiled them for 10 minutes, then took them out and let them sit at room temp. This batch made a total of 8 pint-sized jars of jam.
The verdict over toast this morning: delicious but a little runny. I attribute that to the decreased amount of sugar we used, which is fine by me. I'd take a runnier texture over 3 extra cups of sugar any day.
I have such a sense of satisfaction about the whole process, from field to table, that I actually canned fruit that I had picked earlier in the day. I feel like Ma Ingalls!
Is there any canning in your future? If so, what? I plan on making salsa later in the summer again, once the tomatoes have ripened.