Guess what? It's strawberry season 'round these parts, and we jumped at the chance to head to a local berry farm to pick on the first day. My girls ran free down the hill towards the fields (and our friends who were already in place) and announced our arrival to the world with their usual wild antics. We are just not quiet people.
We picked for just over an hour and came home with 20 lbs of loveliness.
So, then I had to quickly ready myself and go to a work dinner with my husband. We got home around 10 and I just couldn't let the berries sit in their dirt overnight and know how delicate and mold-susceptible they are. This is the kind of stuff that prevents someone like me from sleeping. So, I had myself a little party. I threw my apron on over my dress and washed and hulled until after midnight. I put 24 cups of sliced berries (in 2 c. portions) in the freezer for baking and smoothies and carefully spread the remaining 22 cups in single layers with paper towels in the fridge for jam the next day.
I made my first batch early the next morning and I can tell you there is little better than having fresh warm jam on toast with almond butter. Nice way to start the day. I made a total of 3 batches of jam that day--2 plain strawberry and 1 strawberry rhubarb. There are now 28 half-pint jars of jam in my freezer (if you include the rhubarb I did last week), which hopefully will make up for the laundry not being done. Make some jam, folks. Do not be afraid. It's as easy as cutting fruit and stirring a pan. If you freeze it, you don't have to process it in a water bath, so there are zero excuses for you.
For the plain strawberry jam, I just loosely follow the instructions on the Ball fruit pectin jar (picture farther down in this post). I like to use the low sugar variety and then use even less sugar. My batches of jam today were the following proportions:
- 4 cups crushed berries (use a potato masher to crush 'em up. Measure AFTER you crush, not before)
- 1 cup water
- 4 1/2 T. low sugar pectin
- 1 cup sugar
Place berries, water, and pectin in large pot, stir well and bring to a boil (stir frequently). Continue to boil until it won't stir down (meaning, it still boils when you stir). Stir in the sugar, return to a boil, and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool slightly, then pour into jars of your desired size. This gave me 6 half-pint (1 cup) jars.