Saturday, June 28, 2008


There is actual knitting being done--I promise. But I'm not going to talk about knitting today, I'm going to talk about jam.
I've only been making jam for two summers. And I was afraid at first to tell my mom I was making jam because when I started knitting she said to me, next thing I know you'll be making jam! As if I was some suzy homemaker instead of just stressed and twitchy with an unhealthy love of strawberries. So last summer, I had a bunch of really good berries and a taste for my husband's aunt's freezer jam. So I called her and asked for her recipe (since she was no longer growing strawberries and probably no longer making the jam). She laughed and said--I just follow the recipe on the certo box. Go buy yourself some certo. She insisted I get the liquid.
certo box

I've only had two batches of jam NOT set. One batch was a batch of peach last year in which I used Ball brand pectin and one batch of strawberry this year in which I used a different measuring cup for the berries (it was larger and I think less accurate). The certo is good stuff. I highly recommend the certo!

I thought that I'd actually photodocument the process so that I'd make sure I was following the directions after that first unset batch. So--here is how I make freezer strawberry jam.
First--Start with some good berries, I recommend your local farmer's market or U-Pick place. The recipe says you'll need a pint, but it varies for me--somewhere between a quart and a quart and a half. Usually I buy the flat and we eat and jam and we all are happy.
whole berries

Then you wash and cut the berries up--discard the stems of course. This is my smaller measuring cup.

Then you get to mash or Blend the berries. You want chunks, but you also want juice. I usually use my potato masher. This year I also tried the hand blender too. I wouldn't do it solely with the hand blender I don't think, but after a cup of berries, my arms were tired of mashing. The pre-mash picture though is my favorite--looks very arty.

At any rate you need to get 2 cups of mashed up juicy berries. I usually do one cup at a time, and pour them into a large bowl. Then you add the sugar. Four cups of sugar. And don't skimp. Like the directions say--you want less sugar use the low sugar formulas--you want no sugar--don't make jam. I add them one cup at a time, and stir it in well. At this point you are supposed to set it aside for 10 minutes. I usually gather up containers and keep the kids out of it. Trust me, this tastes so good at this point--like strawberry syrup.

Then I mix up the certo and two tablespoons of lemon juice. The directions say to use a real lemon. I use juice from a bottle. This then gets poured into the strawberry sugar mix.

Then you stir this for three minutes. My girls help. Sometimes it starts to feel like it is setting before the three minutes are up. usually this step makes me so hungry.

Then you spoon it into containers, cover them and let them sit for 24 hours (or until they are set and you need counter space). I use both 1 cup containers and 1/2 cup containers (that I used to use for baby food when my husband made all the baby food). I call this the "tower of power"

tower of power

I've found that if it is going to set, it will within a few hours. And I've found that if you follow the instructions, it will set. My only problem using certo was I believe caused by too much strawberry in the strawberry sugar ratio. My biggest clue for that--it took almost 3 quarts of berries.
Anyway, you can freeze this for a year--I usually thaw in the fridge. Use the thawed within three weeks. I've made three batches of strawberry this year that have set. I think I'm done until peach season.

1 comment:

Cinnamonamon said...

You rock! That sounds so simple! :)