I know, I know. I do not can. The threat of giving my friends & loved ones the gift of botulism has pretty much kept me away from this age-old method of food preservation. Not only that, I’ve no room for the canning gear nor for the canned goods. So, why then am I suddenly canning?
To begin with, last week’s canning experiment with cherry jam went very well. It jelled properly and the jars all sealed without using a water bath. Those who have tasted it liked it, and, most importantly, survived. Family, friends, and a few fellow bloggers were all quite positive, some even encouraging me to continue canning. One friend was particularly enthusiastic, although methinks the promise of freshly made grape jelly may have been the cause. You see, I had confided to him that I wanted to make grape jelly but that Concord grapes weren’t easy to come by. This isn’t exactly Napa Valley. I told him I would be going to the farmers’ market this morning to find grapes and, if all else failed, I might try canning some Michigan strawberries, if they were still available. What he didn’t know was that I had found Mom’s strawberry jam recipe in the recipe book she had given me years ago. All thus time I had ignored it because, as we all know, I do not can. Well, with no grapes to be found anywhere at the market, I bought 3 containers (pints?) of strawberries. I followed Mom’s recipe, with 1 exception. Remembering David Lebovitz’s recommendation of using lemon rind as well as lemon juice, I added the zest of 1 lemon to the fruit and sugar. Beyond that and as Mom had suggested, I used a potato masher to crush the hulled berries, which yielded a little more than 4 cups of smashed fruit. The fact that there was no need for store-bought pectin was a big plus; I didn’t have any. From there, the rest of the recipe is easy enough that I had no problems following it. An experienced canner and jammer should be able to do this in her/his sleep.
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Mom’s Strawberry Jam Recipe
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled (4 cups smashed)
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, lemon and lemon juice & zest. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.
- Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).
- Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space, and seal.
- Process in a water bath, allow to sit in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, carefully remove jars from boiling water and place on rack covered with a towel to prevent jars from shattering due to quick temperature change.
- Leave, untouched, for 12 to 24 hours to insure proper sealing.
- Store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing and just refrigerate.
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If unsure whether the jam will jell properly, you can test it. Just before you start preparing the strawberries, place a plate in your freezer. After your jam has reached 220*, take about 1/4 tsp of the hot jam, place it on the chilled dish, and return both to the freezer. After a couple of minutes, use your finger to “push” through the jam on the plate. If the jam wrinkles before your finger and does not flow to refill the path your finger took, the jam is ready to be placed in jars.
Oh! All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I do not can.
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