Hey everybody (all five of you who read this)! I’ve been crazy busy lately, so the blog has taken a backseat. I assure you it will continue but the posts may be a bit sporadic. I hope to have lots of new fun things to share really, really soon; like my homemade nail polish display that I repurposed from a second-hand what-not (I’m not exactly sure it’s original purpose). But first I will share my day of jamming. (You can’t tell me that Marley isn’t playing in your head right now :) )
What better way to spend a busy three-day weekend than standing over an open flame, stirring a bubbling pot of fruity napalm?? Not much in my world. That is the hallmark of a good time for me. It was a very long weekend, not including the canning party on Monday. I will spare you all the details, but I will say that Saturday morphed into something out of a bad B-movie, ending with a late night trip to Home Depot to rent an electric snake. For the sewer. Blech. Thank goodness for working showers and anti-bacterial soap.
Anyways, back to the good stuff. My friends brought home a huge flat of strawberries, some blueberries and raspberries from the roadside stand on Sunday. The strawberries smelled so amazing, we had to beat the kids off of them. And they tasted divine; so sweet, juicy and delicious. They were practically demanding to be made into jam, and since I am not one to tell fruit no, jam it is!!
My assistant (I’m enjoying having my own personal assistant, by the way) washed and prepped the berries (and only ate one or two). We decided we wanted a very chunky jam, so we used a potato masher to very lightly break up the fruit.
Then using the recipe provided in the Sure-Jell package (Sure-Jell, from my years of experience, tends to set better than other pectins. Just my opinion, but I’ve done a lot of jelly/jam making and it’s been the most consistent for results) we be jamming. I am a Virgo, and possibly a perfectionist, so I always follow the recipe to a “T” to ensure a proper set. Now, having made that statement, I will also reveal that I am a kitchen rebel, and I deviate from said recipes when I’m itching for some specialty jams, and when processing my jellies. I love Ball®, and I do believe they are the authority for canning and preserving, but sometimes, I just don’t like to play by the rules. With that said, this post is about the regular Strawberry Jam, not about my amazing Blueberry Port Jam (the recipe for that will be in another post), so follow the recipe!
Add your fruit and pectin, bring to a full rolling boil (which means it can’t be stirred down, it’s still bubbling). Add sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil again and boil for one minute. That’s it. That is how easy making jam is. You could absolutely eat it just as is (don’t forget about the boiling napalm part, though; it’s SUPER hot) or you can choose to preserve it, like we did.
This should go without saying, but I will say it anyways: always use super clean jars and utensils for canning. The purpose is to keep this in storage for at least a year. Bacteria is our enemy at this point, so keep a kosher kitchen (not strictly, but it does need to be clean). Pour the hot jam into clean mason jars. Fill to ¼ inch of the top of the jar. Use new lids (I have not used the reusable Tattler lids, so we have to keep buying new ones.) and clean rings to seal. This is where my rebellious side takes over. I don’t waterbath my jams and jellies. I know. Ball says you need to, but I don’t. Never have. Over 15+ years of canning, I’ve lost maybe one or two jars processing this way. I feel this is a safe method. The fruit is hot, the jars are filled hot, the lids are kept warm, and I flip the sealed jars on their lids for about an hour and then turn them over and wait for the sweet pinging sound of sealed lids. This is called the Inversion Method and was used almost exclusively for high acid foods for years. It’s how my grandparents taught me and how I’ve always done it. Please don’t send me hate mail telling me I’m poisoning my family. I’m not. If I decide to start selling my homemade goodies in the near future, I will process them as is required under California’s Cottage Industry laws. For me and mine, this is how we do it. You do as you see fit.
And that’s the secret to amazing strawberry jam. There is no secret. Just a hot day in the kitchen, some fruit and sugar. I love that I am feeding my family real food, and I love keeping a time-honored tradition of preserving foods alive. I’m happy to share my knowledge with others so that they too can feel the awesomeness of making your food from scratch. I can’t wait to share the Blueberry Port (yep, boozy jam!!) with you!