Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jamming with strawberries

Where I live, it is strawberry picking season. I have been harvesting from my own patch and supplementing my small quantities with a u-pick strawberry place, the one I visited last year. So far, I have picked 10.6 pounds and harvested ~1 quart from my own patch. My plans include harvesting at least 20 pounds more of strawberries at the u-pick farm. Quite ambitious for a single woman so what do I plan to do with all those strawberries?

After picking my first quantity of strawberries, I came home and made a batch of strawberry freezer jam (three pints total). I was so thrilled to finally have some strawberry jam in the house and could not wait to share with my friends and family. Just in time for birthday gifts! I also froze about 96 ounces of strawberries for later use. I love jam but I do not need to have all the jam made now. However, it would be interesting test to see if I had purchased enough jelly jars to handle all the jam.

I had tried the reduced sugar freezer jam last year and thought the result was all right. Since strawberries are sweeter, I have higher hopes for the flavor but this second batch of 3.5 pints of freezer jam was stored for later eating.

There was one last package of pectin left in my house and I decided to take an adventurous leap. At Christmastime, I asked for and received the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. There are many different recipes for jams and jellies in the book and after a looking it over, I decided to try the strawberry rhubarb cooked jam. This would not only be my first foray into cooked jams (aside from childhood memories of my mom making it) but also the first time I was using my hot-water-bath canner I purchased from craigslist.

Other than some uncomfortable splashes from the hot fruit, I managed to get through the preparation, cooking and canning steps. In fact, all six of the half-pint jars sealed almost immediately after removal from the water bath. And my sample said the strawberry rhubarb jam was excellent. Now I can save some freezer space and know that I am able to can successfully. I wonder what jam I will make next--after restocking pectin of course.

Do you have any jam-making plans?

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