Friday, July 20, 2012

Homemade Strawberry Jam

It's summer, although with the massive thunder and lightning we've had today, you'd never know it! Summer means berries. Berries mean homemade jam. Yum! We got about 4 cups of berries at the farmer's market last weekend, so I put up two 1/2 pints of jam. Not nearly enough to last more than 2 weeks, but it's a start. I tend to make the classic version, with no pectin, as I think it's a richer, more complex flavor, with hints of caramelization and rich strawberry flavor, but it does take more time than pectin jam. This recipe is from my canning cookbook, Put 'Em Up.

Classic Strawberry Jam

4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved if large
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup bottle lemon juice

1. Toss the strawberries and sugar in a large bowl and macerate overnight to coax out the fruit's juice.

2. Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing to release the juice. Stir in the lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the jam rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles. Skim off any foam.

3. Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

**A note about the gel stage from Sherri Brooks Vinton:

Jams reach the gel stage at 220 degrees F. If you have a candy thermometer, you can use this to see if your jam gets to 220 degrees.


When you begin the jam process, put a small plate in the freezer. When you think the jam is nearly ready, drip a few drops onto the cold plate and let cool, then push the smudge with your finger. If it wrinkles when you push it, your jam is ready. If you push it with your finger and it looks like you're parting a mini Red Sea but there are no wrinkles, cook a few minutes longer and try again.

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