Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sinfully Scrumptious Strawberry Jam

I made my first strawberry jam yesterday, thanks to The Garden of Eating blog strawberry jam recipe.  I won't go through the recipe itself, because you can click on the link for the details and Eve's delightful blog. 

This was my first foray into "jamming" with fresh whole fruit, and though it was not really difficult, there were some challenging moments.  But the end result was absolutely scrumptious strawberryness on my ciabatta toast for breakfast. Oooh yeah!

Eve's jam instructions are excellent, and make the process easy to follow.  The first important step is macerating the fruit.  That means mixing the cleaned strawberries with sugar and letting it "steep" overnight so the fruit becomes saturated with the sugar, eventually drawing out all the natural sweetness to make a sweet, syrupy strawberry bowl of goodness.

Then you have to sterilize your jars, lids and seals in boiling water.  I actually used 8oz. jars rather than the pint size Eve suggests.  This step makes for a very steamy kitchen (I used 3 pots filled with jars).  I recommend you sterilize 1 or 2 more jars than you think you will use, because you don't want to find yourself with jam ready to jar and no jar to put it in!

This is the stage I begin gathering my ingredients...and as my father would say, taken from the Bernstein Bears series, "let this be a lesson to you"...make sure you have a sufficient supply of all your ingredients prior to planning your "jamming"...otherwise, like me, you will have to make an unexpected run to the store, that is after begging the neighbors, which I don't have many, if they might have what I needed, which unfortunately, one did not and the other was not home.  So off I ran to the store for pectin, pectin of all things!, can't make jam without pectin, and I needed 1 1/2 TBSP more than what I had.  The unexpected plus and awesome thing about this side trip was I met Mr. Grouse, a very handsome dude strutting his stuff on the road to our cabin. You can read more about Mr. Grouse in yesterday's post, just click here.

I was finally back in business...ready to make the strawberry jam.  In go the ingredients (I love how the berries are reflecting off the side of the pot in the photo below).  I should add here that I did amend Eve's recipe by adding the zest of 1 lemon; when I made my violet jelly, I found adding a bit more than the recipe required resulted in a little bit of extra zingyness, so I decided to add that to this recipe as well.
So up goes the heat, and viola, strawberry goodness boiling & foaming toward sinfully scrumptious jam another really hot period of time in the kitchen:)  

Once the jam reached the silky consistency Eve's recipe describes, it was time to pour it into the jars.  Now that can be a tricky step, especially if you don't have a canning pot with a holder for the jars.  At first I had too much water in the pot, so as I added the jars and the water would rise, jars would start tipping over!  So with Mountain Man's assistance, we removed some of the water, and reorganized the jars into the pots.  Now when I spoke to Bertie today about it, I was delivering their jar of sinfully scrumptious strawberry jam, she told me 1. "I told you you can borrow my canning equipment any time" and 2. "in the old days we used to use towels around the jars".  "Thank you Bertie, you are sweet and I know you said I can borrow those things, and ha ha, what a great idea, I will use towels next time if I need to!"   I did finally get the jam into the jars with the seals and lids on, and soon enough all the jars were in the boiling bath for 10 minutes.

Here is the coolest thing, and Eve mentions it as well.  When the jars are set on the counter to cool, you begin to hear the pop of the lids as they seal...it is the most beautiful sound.  Each time I heard it, I would giggle and clap and say "woo hoo" and do a little dance in the kitchen...when you hear that sound...success!...jam that is sealed and will last about a year!  FYI, all my jars popped except for one, and I discovered the lid (the round part that twists shut) had a small dent, therefore the seal could not be completed.  The good news is jars that don't seal will still last in the fridge for about 2 weeks. 

But ours won't make it that long, we opened it up this morning, tried it on toast, and so delicious!  Just the right amount of zingyness in the sinfully scrumptious strawberryness and not overly sweet.  And pretty:)

We ended up with 9 8oz jars of this delightful goodness.  In fact, it was so good, it was PB&J for lunch...so as you can see, we've been enjoying it!  And no you don't see only 8 jars because we ate an entire jar, I brought one to Ron & Bertie today:)

If you ever come visit, I promise to share some sinfully scrumptious strawberry jam with you if we still have any left, better hurry!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,


Malcolm and Ciejay Burgess said...

Lise, great post , making strawberry jam and raspberry jam is one of my most fav things to do , I use to give it at Christmas as presents along with my bread and butter pickles, my boys always looked foward to their jam's . In fact in 1971 I won first prize at the Ninilcik town fair( small Russian village ) in Alaska for my raspberry jam and a 2nd prize for my strawberry , I was sooo proud of myself and am still bragging today lol . I love canning and enjoyed your step by step post , the one thing I do is to put a 1/2 spoon of butter in my rolling boil to get rid of the foam .. Malcolm

Lise said...

Malcolm, congrats on being a prize winning jam maker, in fact, maybe you will consider sharing your recipes:) I will have to try the butter addition next jamming round...I'm waiting for the wild blackberries to ripen, we have them all over the place! Hopefully we get to them before the birds and bugs, LOL! I am on the same track as you regarding gifting them...mine isn't a prize winner (yet) but I am loving it, both the process and the results!

Anonymous said...

Yum Yum! And it feels so good to make your own too : )