Thursday, March 25, 2010

strawberry honey jam

(originally posted on other blog March, 2009)

Pre-work: prepare the jars & lids. Wash them well, then put them in separate pans. You want to boil the jars to get them very sterile, but do not boil the lids because that can destroy the sealing rubber gasket part. Get the lids to a simmer then turn off the heat; boil the jars about 10 minutes and then keep them in the pot. You'll use the same pot to boil them in later when they're full of jam, so don't dump the water out. [I have a problem with a film developing on the jars when they boil - my guess is from minerals in the water. Will need to figure it out.]

Then, wash the strawberries. Be gentle. Get organic strawberries, or at least unsprayed, so you're only washing to get off dirt, leaves, etc. Dry on a clean tea towel. Let them get to room temperature so that their flavor is very full.

Then, hull them. I take the stem off with my fingers, then use a huller for the tough attachment part. (Can also use a knife, but I find that seems to take off too much of the good berry.)

Slice until you think you'll have about 4 cups mashed (my best guess is about 2 1/2 pints). (You probably don't have to slice before mashing, but I think it makes the mashing easier.)

Then mash, leaving some yummy big chunks but getting out the juice. Measure into a pan to be sure you have 4 cups. {*I do multiple batches as well - see below.}

Get out your other supplies. I use Pomona's Universal Pomona because it doesn't require table sugar and has fantastic customer service (yeah, I've called twice). I use local honey because it tastes like ambrosia. I've never been all that into honey before, but this Westwego (on the West Bank) honey from Mynick's farm pushes me into paroxysms of pleasure. And the combination of local strawberries and honey is so wonderful!

The directions are clear for Universal Pectin, which I appreciate. You have to make "calcium water" (just adding some liquid to water to keep in a jar). You add 2 tsp of that to your 4 c of mashed berries, and then add 2 tsp from the other packet (pectin) to however much honey you want to use (I use 1/2 c to 3/4 c of honey per 4 cups of strawberries.)

Bring the fruit to boil while stirring so the bottom doesn't burn. Then add the honey mixture, stirring well to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and then remove from heat.

Fill the jars to 1/4" of top (it really helps to have a canning funnel). Wipe the rims clean, screw on the two piece lids, and put the jars in the boiling water to cover. Boil five minutes if you're at (or below, in my case) sea level, longer at higher altitude. Remove with the special tool for that (jar handler tool) and set on a towel on the counter to cool. For four cups of mashed berries, I filled three 1/2 pint jelly jars and then a larger jar that isn't for canning to use as fridge jam (I sterilized the jar & lid and will keep in fridge and use up right away).

And then you have jam! Yum! It's fantastic to eat throughout the year, and I especially like it in homemade yogurt.

It is definitely possible to quadruple batches with this pectin (as long as you have enough pots, etc.).

3/24/09 - A whole flat of strawberries yielded about 18 1/2 c mashed strawberries (probably more but I measured generously). I put in about 2 1/2 c honey and 10 teaspoons each of calcium water and pectin.

It made 7 pints plus an applesauce jar, a jam jar, and another glass container I use for food leftovers.

3/23/10 - A whole flat yielded about 17 c mashed berries (yeah, I nibbled on quite a few), which yielded 9 pint jars of jam plus a little bit.

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