The Art of Making Strawberry Jam
Making jams is a tradition going back hundreds of years. Every family had a method or secret to their own cooking process. Today, there are basic methods that can be personalized. Here is one of the simplest methods. The following are the basic ingredients in making strawberry jam:
- 10 cups of washed and hulled strawberries
- 4 cups of sugar
- 1 ½ package of dry pectin
One of the secrets of good jams is using good quality strawberries. A good recipe with fruit without the sweetness and full flavor will result in less than desirable product. There is no amount of compensation that will correct using poor quality strawberries. The most common things to keep in mind, when choosing strawberries:
Strawberries are generally summer fruits. If purchasing them at any other time, remember they were either shipped in and may not be fresh or may be a hybrid that may lack flavour.
When strawberries are shipped into areas, they are picked prior to being completely ripe. What this means is that they have not reached their full sweetness. Ripe strawberries can go bad quickly. The faster the process from picking to buying, the better chance of having sweet, plump strawberries.
Red vs White
Red strawberries with no white at the stem are by far the sweetest and most flavourful. Again as previously stated, the reason strawberries are picked prior to complete ripeness is usually due to long transportation or distribution processes. These will make any product made out of them more watery tasting with little “strawberry” flavor.
It is commonly thought that good strawberries are perfectly shaped and are big in size. The truth is most strawberries tend to be shaped differently than the perfect ones normally seen. Juicy, tasty strawberries may tend to be smaller and oddly formed. There are many hybrid varieties that are genetically engineered to big and luscious. However, it must be understood that if they are genetically engineered to look pretty, they are probably treated with pesticides that have often been seen as controversial as well as being detrimentally linked to health problems like cancer.
The next step in making strawberry jam is picking the equipment needed to properly can the strawberry jam. The canning process can be tailored just like the recipe. Canning is been done since colonial times. It is a fundamental process of preserving food. Knowing how to can strawberry jam is a process that should be followed pretty closely. Improper canning can result in food poisoning. Botulism is a risk when doing any canning. However, canning highly acidic foods are not prone to botulism. The acidic nature of strawberries may lead to spoilage but does not tend to be a botulism risk. Also due to the acid in strawberries, the method of canning can be simplified from pressure canning to water bath (or boiling water) canning. The difference in the two is simple. Pressurized canning is a more complex process used to rid bacteria from low acid foods. The water bath method is a bit simpler and more widely used by non-expert canners. For making strawberry jam, the equipment needed (with a few options) to start with:
Or Buy As A Group
Jam Jar Covers
Home Preserving Book
- Now with the proper products and equipment, it is time to make strawberry jam. Mash freshly washed and hulled strawberries but do not completely crush them. Mashing the berries will release the natural juices, pectin and flavor into the jam. Pulverizing the berries is not necessary unless a smoother consistency is desired.
- Take ¼ cup of sugar along with the package and ½ of pectin and mix with the strawberries in a big pot. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil which should be no longer than 10 minutes.
- In another pot, begin boiling the parts of the jar lids. This is to soften the adhesive circle on the lids as well as sterilize them. This pot will be used to put finished jars into sterilize as well
- Going back to the strawberry mixture, it is time to add the remainder (3 ¾ cups) of the sugar.
- Using a ladle, skim off the foam that develops on the mixture. It is an aesthetic measure mostly. The foam is fine for consumption but tends to change the consistency of the jam.
- Check to see if the mixture is gelling. Take a small amount out and allow it to cool. It should be a thick, uniform gel at this point. If it is not, continue cooking until the desire texture is reached.
- If the mixture is ready, let it sit and firm for about 5 minutes. Then stir it thoroughly to make sure there is uniformity in the mixture.
- Using the funnel for neatness, start filling jars. Fill them up to about a ¼ inch from the top. Using the sterilized lids, place the tops on all the jars. After wiping off any excess jam on the outside of the jar, take the sealed jars sand put them into the pot (at a minimum of 2 inches) of boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Using the jar lifter, take the jars out of the boiling water and put them on a cooling rack. Caution should be used not to bump the jars as they could break easily.
Tips On How To Make Strawberry Jam
Tip 1: Washing strawberries be done with a paper towel or a wash cloth. Simply rinsing them with water is not sufficient to ensure cleanliness.
Tip 2: Hulling strawberries is an easy task. Start by piercing the strawberry around its leafy top. Proceed by scooping with the knife toward the middle of the berry to get under the hull, cutting up to the other side of the berry. It will look as if a “v” has been cut into the top of the strawberry.
Tip 3: Making the perfect jam is a matter of preference on consistency and taste. Don’t be afraid to tinker with recipe to make the jam more palatable or unique.
Tip 4: Store strawberry jam for no longer than 12 months. After that point, it is spoilage.
Tip 5: Freeze strawberries while they are in season. This will allow for year around canning.