Homemade Jam

Saturday morning I found myself leaving the farmer’s market with a load of fresh berries and cherries. I was on a jam mission so, three pounds of strawberries were headed for jars. I did some reading online to compare recipes and prefer the idea of doing it without pectin. The recipe I used was inspired by one from Martha Stewart, who I figure has made a jar or two of jam in her time.

The berries were perfect-red throughout, ripe but not mushy, and fragrant of spring. I hulled and cut them into a large stockpot, slowly added sugar, and cooked it to almost 220 degrees, which took about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, my son was quiet as a mouse, only to return with his own custom made labels for the jars-perfect!

We filled three jars and had enough warm jam left over to slather on two pieces of toast. I have to say, I think the berries were so sweet I could have cut the sugar back even more than I did (the original recipe had about 20% more than what I used). This is sweet jam but, it’s pure strawberry and just delicious. Tomorrow I think we’ll make homemade bread and really put it to the test.

Strawberry Jam
3 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 to 1 1/2 pounds sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries

pinch of salt

In a large stockpot, heat the berries with 1/4 cup of the sugar over medium heat until they release some juice and the mixture becomes quite juice, 5-6 minutes. Add one-third of the remaining sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue this process, adding the remaining sugar in two parts, until all the sugar has been added and dissolved. Stir in the salt.

Bring the jam to a boil and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to a low boil, put a candy thermometer in the pot, and cook until the mixture is very thick, jam-like, and about 220 degrees. This will take about 30 minutes-don’t cook it too hot or your jam will scorch. Meanwhile, put a small plate in the freezer. When the jam seems ready, remove the plate from the freezer and put a spoonful of jam on it. Return it to the freezer for 1-2 minutes. When you take it out and press it gently, it should wrinkle slightly, almost like a gel, and feel thick like jam-this means it is done.

I don’t go through the sterilizing process for true canning. I put my jam in clean jars, seal them tightly, refrigerate one and freeze the others, pulling them out when I need them. If you want to sterilize your jars so they can go into the pantry, buy some new Ball jars and follow the directions for keeping everything clean and hot so you get a good preserve. Have fun!

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