Strawberry Jam 101

Here in Quebec, strawberries are finally perfectly ripe. Sure, those of you in B.C. or England or whatnot have been revelling in glorious berries for over a month now, but it’s colder here. That’s probably why it’s so special when these gems are finally ripe for the picking.

…and for preserving.

I’ve been told that not only is this a “bumper crop” year for these berries—they’re also more delicious than usual. If that isn’t a perfect excuse to make strawberry jam, I don’t know what is.

Strawberry Jam Recipe

Strawberry Jam

When it comes to canning and home preserves, it’s far better to rely on a tried-and-true recipe than just winging it. That’s because thousands of people before us have perfected the fruit to sugar ratios, and can also recommend proper canning procedures. I don’t care how delicious your experimental jam is, you don’t want to get botulism when you eat it.

This recipe is from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It’s an invaluable resource for any type of food preservation, and I suggest picking up a copy if you plan to do any canning or preserving at all.

…In fact, pick up two just in case you lend one to a friend and it never comes back.

RECIPE

Ingredients:

5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions: 

Prepare your boiling water canner, and heat both the jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

Combine the strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.

Add all the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Then return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.

Ladle the hot jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe each rim clean before placing a lid on, centring it well. Apply the band until the fit is just fingertip tight.

Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary. Then use remove jars with the removal tool and allow to cool. Check the lids after 24 hours to make sure they’ve sealed properly. Those lids should have sunken downwards and not flex up and down when their centres are pressed.

Strawberry Jam on Toast

The entire process takes a lot less time than you might imagine, and is well worth the effort.  When you crack one of those jars open next February—when it’s hideously cold and snowy and blargh—you’ll be able to enjoy a few spoonfuls of luscious summer sunshine.

Spread it on toast, use it in cakes and muffins, or just eat a spoonful straight from the jar.
It’ll be glorious.

If you’re interested in making different types of preserves from your garden produce, check out these related articles:

+ Pickles!

+ 10 Great Mini Vegetables for Container Gardens

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