A friend of mine has been making her own strawberry jam for years and offered to show me (and a few others) how to do it. Unfortunately, her jam making session was on a day that the boys weren't in pre-school so I couldn't go, but I promised myself that I'd figure it out for myself.
First, we went strawberry picking at a nearby orchard. We, and by "we" I mean Ryan and I since the kids picked about five strawberries each and then sat in the wagon and ate a snack, picked about 14 pounds of the yummy little berries:
As soon as we got home, I got to work hulling and washing them.
This is what four pounds of hulled, washed strawberries looks like:
And this is what they look like all smashed up with a potato masher:
Almost all of the recipes I found for strawberry jam called for 3-4 pounds of mashed up strawberries, a package of pectin (to create the "jelly" consistency) and, get this, 6-7 cups of sugar. Now I'm not a health nut; my kids know what candy is and they're allowed the occasional non-caffeinated soda. But 6-7 cups of sugar? No thank you.
I eventually found a recipe that said you can use no sugar added apple or white grape juice so I compromised and added one cup of white grape juice and one cup of sugar to our mashed up strawberries. The juice added too much liquid and I wound up boiling the mixture way too long to get a good consistency. My four pounds of strawberries turned into.....wait for it.....just two and half jars of jam:
It's a lot thicker than I'd like it to be, but the taste is phenomenal. I can't wait to spread it on our pb&j sandwiches and breakfast toast.
Will we do it again? I don't know. It's yummy. It'll last a long time (it's so rich a little bit will go a long way). It's fairly healthy since I cut the sugar by five cups. But it was a lot of work for two jars of jam. My friend said to skip the big pot of boiling water to sanitize and then seal the jam jars and that will cut an hour off of the jam making process, but I'm a bit leery about germs and bacteria and such. Of course, she knows what she's doing since she hasn't killed anyone with her jam.
So we'll see. Maybe we'll try again next year. Or maybe I'll just keep buying it from the people with the last name of Smucker who know what they're doing.
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