Strawberry jam for beginners
Mastering the art of homemade strawberry jam isn't as mysterious as it seems, as long as you follow these three simple tips.
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6. A strawberry huller, metal ladle, and metal spoon (for skimming off the foamy scum – you’ll never get all of it, but it will make a difference if you do your best for a minute or two before ladling the jam into jars). I’ve already mentioned the long-handled wooden spoon for stirring. At least one kitchen towel, to put the jars on when you fill them.Skip to next paragraph
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7. A potato masher and bowl for roughly squashing the strawberries. You could also pulse them in a food-processor. (Do not purée!)
8. A 4-cup wet measure, a 1-cup dry measure.
9. Cleaning supplies, for afterwards. I had to wash the kitchen floor twice. Use cold water to rinse any spilled jam out of cloth dish towels; hot water may set the stain.
From Sure-Jell, makes 1 batch, fills eight 4-ounce jars.
2 quarts of strawberries
7 cups of white granulated sugar, which is most of a 5-lb. bag. (Astonishing. But delicious.)
1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 box of Sure-Jell pectin
1. Bring boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
2. Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups crushed strawberries into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.
3. Add sugar; stir. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
4. Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
I began picking strawberries at 10 in the morning and had two batches of processed jam in jars, cooling on a dishtowel, by 2 p.m. That includes picking, driving, and lunch. I picked six quarts (should have reread the recipe first). I made a third batch later that afternoon, and had almost a full quart of berries left. I still don’t know how that happened.
I’ve never bothered with wax. The hazard posed by handling the fruity equivalent of napalm is enough excitement for me, and you do not need the wax seal.
Happily, bringing the jam to a rolling boil takes much less time than I thought. This time I used a wide (12 inches) but deep saucepan, and it took about 12 minutes on high heat (gas stove) after I’d stirred in all the sugar. Be ready to dump in the powdered or liquid pectin quickly, and you’ll need to time 1 minute. I had a stopwatch.
The resulting jam is often a crazy bright-red color that eventually dulls to a standard jam-red after a time. Properly processed, the jam will keep for a year.
Did I say wear long sleeves and closed-toe shoes? Keep young children away and out from underfoot. They could stand or kneel on a chair and hold onto the back of it, perhaps. But not too close!
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