Going to my local Farmer’s Market is a Saturday morning ritual. I am down there by 7:00 a.m. at the latest when some farmers are still setting out all of their goods. To my surprise strawberries were available as usually they are not ready until mid-June or so. One farmer in particular had these luscious, big, red strawberries and lots of them. After talking with this father/son team I learned they came all the way from Dowagiac, Michigan which is in the northwestern part of the state. They knew our local strawberries were not ready yet.
Eight quarts later, 3 batches of jam (12 jars), strawberries frozen for shortcake later and some strawberry sauce – yum, yum, yum! I am the big strawberry fan in my family, Gene always preferred blackberry.
Now, a little information on my new jam maker I recently purchased. See my post Kitchen Gadgets – Automatic Jam and Jelly Makers. I received an email advertising this new product from Ball back in August of 2012 and the reviews were good. I thought about purchasing it as I liked the idea it only made small batches of jam; 4 half pint jars. I have made jam the old-fashioned way off and on for many years but decided this gadget was worth a try. Also, I do not recall using pectin very often so this was going to be a totally new experience. Needless to say I was very pleased – this was probably the best jam I have ever made – the consistency and flavor – superb!
You have a choice between the traditional way or reduced sugar. I chose the lower sugar recipe as I do not care for overly sweet jam. Also, make sure the berries are very fresh – the ones I purchased were just perfect and so juicy.
- 3-1/4 cups crushed strawberries
- 3 tbsp. Ball Real Fruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin
- 1/2 tsp. butter (to control foaming)
- 2 cups sugar
Prepare the strawberries by removing the hulls and stems and then slicing them into smaller pieces; place in a shallow dish and mash well until you get 3-1/4 cups. One batch I added about 6 lavender sprigs and then removed them before canning. Just for a little added flavor – lavender and strawberries go great together.
Sprinkle the pectin evenly over the bottom of the pot. Add the crushed berries over the pectin. Add the 1/2 tsp. of butter to help control foaming.
Plug in the machine and press the jam button. Wait 4 minutes until the appliance sounds 4 short beeps. Add the sugar gradually, place the lid on and after a total time of 21 minutes is up the appliance will beep again when it is done.
Press cancel, unplug the machine, remove the lid and then the stirrer. Carefully add the jam to your jars and either eat within a week, freeze up to a year or can up to a year. I did all three; ate some, froze a batch and the majority I canned.
I now have two water bath canners, a new small one for small batches and I am on my second large one. After much use it had to be replaced. It was very handy to have this little one for this jam recipe. See my post Kitchen Gadgets – Water Bath Canners.
Have the water in your canner boiling by the time the jam is done cooking. The water should be 1 to 2 inches above the jars. Also, have your jars and lids hot. I use to do it in my dishwasher but for a small batch I used a pot on top of my stove. Fill each hot jar with hot jam allowing 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims; place the lids on and twist on the bands tight.
Place the filled jars in the canner, place lid on and bring to a gentle boil. Process for 10 minutes, remove jars and allow to cool. You will hear them “ping” as the lids seal!
Homemade jam on toast – yum!
The jam with the green lid is one I will freeze; the others I canned in my new small canner that holds 7 pints; perfect for small batches of jam.