Sunday, July 3, 2011

Strawberry Jammin'

Last Summer, my Mom and I decided to try out hand at canning and see how it worked out. It was something we had never done before but always wanted to.!!   We decided to make Strawberry Jam because we all love it, and I figured Lily would love it too!  I can't imagine she could never have a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich than to have one made from Mommy and Nana's special strawberry jam.  Canning seems really overwhelming at first, there are all of these steps and there's boiling water baths, and headspaces and pectin and all of these things that I had never done or used before.  But if you just take it one step at a time it really isn't all that difficult, and you end up with tons of jars that you can hand out to friends and family too, or just keep for yourself! This year we decided to try it out again because we were all out of last years jars, and I though I'd share the recipe with you to try it out too! Canning really is a lot more fun if you have someone else to do it with you...and while you have all the supplies out, it's fun to make all kinds of different recipe's at the same time. At the end of the day you'll have a bunch of great foods, jams, jellies, pickles, or whatever else to last you the whole winter through (and remind you of hot summer days at the same time!).

This recipe came from another Gooseberry Patch Cookbook called "Mom's favorite Recipe's" It's a really simple recipe that isn't all that time consuming...from start to finish it took us about an hour and a half to complete (oh and you MIGHT want to double it because the jars go FAST!).

Homemade Strawberry Jam

5 c. strawberries, hulled and crushed**
1-3/4 oz pkg. powdered pectin
7 c. sugar
8   1/2 pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

**I used my food processor to chop/crush the strawberries.  This is a great way to do it because you can really choose the consistency that you like for your jam - whether you like it with no chunkiness or lots! You can also put them in a bowl and use a potato masher if you'd prefer.

Combine Strawberries and pectin in an 8 quart heavy saucepen; bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Mix in sugar; return to a rolling boil and boil for one minute. Skim off any foam using a metal (slotted!) spoon; discard. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace; wipe rims and secure lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes; set jars on a towel to cool. Check for seals. Makes 8 jars. ***

***We have actually only gotten 7 jars out of this recipe when we make it, but go ahead and sterilize all 8 just in case!  You wouldn't want to let any go to waste!!
As far as it goes for supplies for canning, I wouldn't run out an buy an expensive canning kit if you don't want to.  They are definitely useful if you have the money to spend, but you don't need it if you don't. I don't have a kit, but my  Mom does.  So I've done it both ways and it works out fine no matter what you have.  Any tall stock pot will do the trick for all of the boiling, you may just have to do it in more than one batch (Plus it's a bit quicker for boiling the water than the giant pot so it may save you time in the long run!)  You will need a set of canning tools which has a funnel, magnet, headspace measurer and tongs (okay these might not be the exact names for these, but you get the idea ;) ).  I picked mine up at Kroger and I think it was $12 for the whole set.

The Gooseberry Patch cookbook I mentioned above, also had some great canning tips I thought I'd share with you as well if you're a first time "canner." They definitely helped us out!

Great Basics for Everyday Canning
  • Wondering how much water should be in a boiling water bath? Add enough to cover the canning jars by 1-2 inches. Also, the water in the pot should remain 2 inches below the rim when boiling and with jars submerged.
  • It's easy to sterilize jars and lids...just submerge them in water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat but don't remove jars and lids from hot water until ready to fill and use.
  • Don't forget when placing jars in a boiling water bath, the jars should be placed about one inch apart from each other so they aren't touching.
  • Wondering what headspace is and why it's different on some recipes? Headspace is simply the space between the food inside the jar and the top of the jar. Always use the recommended headspace given in each much will cause the jar not to seal, too little will cause the contents to overflow!
So if you try out canning, have fun with it - and make something that you really LOVE because you'll have A LOT when you're finished!  My next canning project??  PUMPKIN BUTTER!! YUM!!!  In case I don't get a chance to say it tomorrow, I wish you all a blessed and beautiful Fourth of July!!  I hope you have a FANTASTIC day, whatever you do!!
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