Friday, June 23, 2006

Carolyn’s Strawberry Jams

Strawberry Freezer Jam (left) and Traditional Strawberry jam.


I’ve shied away from making jams. Buying the jars, lids, and the special pots, measuring out the fruit, working with the pectin, sterilizing everything, timing the whole process -- yikes. It just seems like a whole lot of trouble for something to smear on toast.

But yesterday Carolyn, canning goddess of the Finger Lakes, made many (many, many) batches of strawberry jam and I was there, pen in hand, ready to learn.

The first thing I learned is that there are different types of jam:

Traditional, where you boil mashed fruit, sugar, and pectin, pour it into jars, seal them, boil the hell out of them, let them cool and they’ll keep fresh in your pantry all through the long, northern winters,

-and-

Freezer jam, where you mix together mashed fruit, sugar, and pectin, pour it into jars, close them, let them sit for 24 hours, and then pop them into your freezer until you’re ready to use them.

I like the idea of the traditional jam (it's so Martha!) but the efficiency of the freezer jam. Then again, when you go out the strawberry fields (as Carolyn and her kids did) and pick your own berries (as Carolyn and her kids did), and then cut them up (as Carolyn, her daughter Kathryn, and I did), and mash the hell out of them (as Kathryn, her brother Richard, and friend Katie did) before you even start to cook, efficiency doesn’t enter into it.

Of course, both are delicious. The strawberry freezer jam has a fresh fruit taste, along the lines of just-picked berries sprinkled with sugar. The traditional jam has that lovely homemade preserve flavor -- gourmet preserves, that is, because you made them at home.

But it is a lot of work. If you’re up for it, here are the recipes (also found in the Sure-Jell CERTO pectin packaging):

Carolyn’s Traditional Strawberry Jam

Before starting, please read the USDA’s Principles of Home Canning . Not only will it give you all the information required to prep for making shelf-stable jam, time adjustment advice based on altitude, and a nice little lecture on botulism, but it will alleive my worry that you will expose yourself to food poisioning simply by following a recipe you found on a blog.)

4 pts. very ripe strawberries (yes, hand picked is best)
7 c. sugar, measured into its own bowl (sugar substitutes will NOT work)
½ tsp. butter
1 pouch Sure Jell CERTO liquid pectin

Have sterilized jars, lids, and screw bands ready. Bring water to a boil in a boiling water canner. (Water should ultimately cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.)

Wash, dry, hull and crush strawberries (crush one cup at a time) using a potato masher.

Measure out 8 cups of mashed berries and pour into a 6 to 8 qt. saucepan. Stir sugar into fruit and add butter (to reduce foaming). Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Stir in pectin quickly, and return to a full boil. Boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle mixture quickly into prepared jars, filing within 1/8 of the jar tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two piece lids. Screw bands tightly (but not too tightly) and place jars on an elevated rack in boiling water canner. Lower rack into canner. Water should cover jars by 1 to 2 inches, adding boiling water if needed. Cover and bring to a gentle boil and boil for 10 minutes (adjust for elevation if needed*).


Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If lid springs back, the lid isn’t sealed and the jam with require refrigeration.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Store unopened jams in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year. Opened jam should be stored in the refrigerator.

Yields about 8 cups

*Note from the Clemson Extension: If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, add 1 minute to the processing time for each 1,000 feet of altitude.


***


Carolyn’s Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 pts. very ripe strawberries (yes, hand picked is best)
4 c. sugar, measured into its own bowl (sugar substitutes will NOT work)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 pouch
Sure Jell CERTO liquid pectin

Wash and rinse containers with tight fitting lids.

Wash, dry, hull and crush strawberries (crush one cup at a time) using a potato masher.

Stir sugar into mashed berries, mixing until combined. Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice with pectin. Set aside.

After fruit mixture has sat for 10 minutes, add in pectin and lemon juice. Stir constantly for at least 3 minutes until sugar is (mostly) dissolved.

Pour jam into prepared containers, leaving ½ inch head space, and cover. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or store in freezer for up to a year. Thaw freezer jam in refrigerator before using (2-3 days).


Grade: A

6 comments:

emily said...

Oh my gosh . . . I'm so impressed. Homemade jam (and it is incredibly Martha) scares the bejeezus out of me. Do you think the freezer jam recipe would work with other berries? - and here I am thinking a blueberry or cranberry, as sadly, I am allergic to strawberries.

Laura Rebecca said...

Emily, thank you but don't be impressed by me: the credit belongs to Carolyn.

There are lots of recipes for freezer jam:

Blueberry jam -- 2 pts blueberries, stems removed and crushed. Measure out 2 cups crushed berries and add to 4 cups sugar, let sit 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Proceed as outlined for strawberry jam.

Raspberry or Blackberry jam -- 2 pts berries, stems removed and crushed. (Run half of the pulp through a seive to remove seeds, if desired.) Measure out 2 cups crushed berries and add to 4 cups sugar, let sit 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Proceed as outlined for strawberry jam.

Grape Jelly -- Measure out 2 cups bottled grape juice, add 4 cups sugar and let sit 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Proceed as outlined for strawberry jam substituting lemon juice for water.

molly said...

This looks yummy! I made strawberry preserves once (no pectin). They were good, but the kitchen was such a sticky mess that I've never tried again. These pictures are pretty inspiring, though. :-)

I'm curious... were these berries picked at Carolyn's home, or is there a pick-your-own place somewhere nearby? I've ordered a car from a dealership in Victor, and when it comes in we're planning a whole Finger Lakes excursion. Getting to pick some strawberries would really make it a treat!!

Laura Rebecca said...

Molly -- they were picked at a "U-Pick" patch somewhere in Seneca Castle. I'll see Carolyn tomorrow and ask her for the specific address.

(And, her kitchen WAS a sticky mess...)

cj said...

Thanks so much for your nice comments on my blog. I'm new to this food blogging thing but I'm having a good time with it! I was going to post you a note and let you know I tried those cookies and mentioned them on my site. They were really good! Anyway, I hope you'll visit again sometime.

Laura Rebecca said...

Molly, this is so late but she picked at Shepperd's Farm on County Rd. 20 in Seneca Castle. (It's just north of the intersection of Coutry Rd 20 and County Rd. 4).

I was actually there today picking --the owners think there will be berries through July 8th or 9th. The picking wasn't hard but it wasn't easy either. It took me about 20 minutes to fill 2 qts.

They also have sweet cherries to pick there -- those were VERY easy picking, although you might have to climb the tree a bit (or go with a tall person).