My friend CD and I, on somewhat short notice, decided that peak strawberry season was upon us, and we needed to make some jam, since neither of us had done it (though I had hulled many berries for jam with my Mother about 30 yrs. ago(!) Boy… time flies.) . It’s always more fun to dive into a new culinary adventure when you have a trusty sidekick. You really need someone to be there and laugh with you (or at you, depending how it goes).
We drove over the river to Trempealeau, WI, to the Berry Patch, a local grower and vendor of strawberries and raspberries, and got ourselves a few flats of berries. I drive by the Berry Patch every day on my way to and from work, so we knew it was the right time when the stand is open and they wheel out their giant model strawberry so you can see it from the road.
After a quick trip to our local Ace Hardware for new lids for our jars, and then a quick trip to the grocery for pectin and sugar, we were in business.
Well, almost in business. Then we needed a recipe. We found a few, along with pictures and advice, from here. After a bit of research, we decided to make the recipe that used more pectin, less sugar, and a shorter cooking time. Yes, we canned our jam, since neither of us wanted to use the freezer space for freezer jam, and when we found out the canning part is only 5-10 minutes in boiling water, it didn’t seem like that much more time to spend.
At this point, we started cleaning, hulling and slicing berries.
Connie brought her egg slicer, which turns out to work really well for slicing the berries (except for the really HUMONGOUS ones). I used the alternate method (paring knife). And, of course, we immediately realized that 5 flats of berries was more than enough for the number of jars we had. We ended up freezing more than half of our berries, as we determined sleep was going to be more important to us that night than making jam for the metropolitan area.
In case any of my dear readers were fooled into thinking I was a real photographer, these photos should reveal the truth. This was about take 4, and yes, C was startled by the flash. But she’s got a really cool apron on, doesn’t she?
After measuring out our ingredients (6 cups of strawberries, about 4 cups of sugar, and a pack and a half of pectin), we got on with it, cooking the berries, adding the sugar, bringing the heat up slowly to prevent foaming….
Doesn’t that look delicious? Don’t you wish this was a scented blog?
After we got the cooking done, and had skimmed off bits of foam when it reared its pepto-pink head, it was time to fill our (previously sterilized) jars.
So, we spooned the hot jam into the half pint jars, added the lids (boiled in water) and the rings, and dropped them into the boiling water for 5-10 minutes. There are no pictures of that part, as we needed all the hands we had to get this done, and prevent burning ourselves with boiling water or hot jam.
But here’s some evidence that we were able to finish it…
As you can see, Slow And Sew does not only not have the budget for professional photographers, it does not have the budget for food stylists, either. The white stuff that you see on the jars are the minerals that precipitate out of our water after it’s been boiled. It wipes off the jars, and does no harm at all.
(You could lick it off, if you’re calcium deficient, I suppose.)
Each of us ended up with 8 half pints of jam, about 3 quarts of frozen berries, and some berries to eat fresh.
So far, the jam has proven to be tasty on toast, tasty on bread, and a jar was happily received as a birthday present last week. I may have to hide a jar or two to pull out in the depth of winter.