Strawberry Jam

One of the plants I thought of growing in my garden was strawberries, but then I had flashbacks of pulling slugs off strawberry plants and trying to drown said slugs in beer.  Somehow this seems way more humane than killing them in salt.  After all, wouldn’t you rather die drunk? Of course slugs probably wouldn’t be too much of an issue here due to a serious lack of rain, but somehow it still seems like too much work to grow my own strawberries when I can get fresh strawberries from the farmer’s market year-round.  Unfortunately, the farmer’s market strawberry quality does seem to vary over the course of a year, so I thought it only right to try making one of the strawberry recipes from Canning for a New Generation before the strawberries lose their summer integrity.  Canning for a New Generation has a whopping 9 canning recipes involving strawberries, from the simple strawberry jam (I thought I’d start off easy) to strawberry syrup and beefed-up jam versions with lemon or thai basil, in case I get bored. One warning though, while the ingredients in this jam are simple and few, the cooking takes a while (so don’t pull an Anna and neglect to read the whole recipe through before you begin).

Strawberry Jam (from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes about 4 half-pint jars of jam)
3 pounds of strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Grated zest from 1 lemon

To make the jam:  Prepare the strawberries by washing them thoroughly, cutting off their tops, and cutting them into small pieces.  Mix the strawberries and sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.  It’s probably good to stir the mixture frequently.  I accidentally added the lemon juice and zest from the beginning, but the original recipe suggests waiting until the last step of cooking (which will be explained in a moment).  After the 5 minutes of simmering, fish out all the strawberry pieces with a slotted spoon or pour the entire mixture through a strainer, catching the liquid in a new pot or bowl.  Set the berries aside and bring the strawberry juice back to a simmer in the pot until it is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups of liquid, which may take about 20 minutes.  Then add the strawberries back to the pot, along with the lemon juice and zest if you’re actually intending to follow the recipe (I think I may just be allergic to recipes), and simmer for about 15 minutes more.  The jam is ready when you put a bit on a frozen plate, stick the plate with dab of jam back in the freezer for a minute, and the jam is somewhat firm.  Finally, skim as much foam off the top of the jam as possible (and eat it!), and then give the jam a quick gentle mix to distribute the fruit in the liquid before canning.

To can the jam:  Luckily the canning part is much easier.  See the detailed instructions for canning dilly beans, with the following changes.  Fill the half-pint jars with jam, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.  Process the half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

In case you want to can something from a reputable source and don’t want to invest in a canning recipe book, the author of Food in Jars has a blog of the same name.  It’s fun, and has another dilly been recipe I will be trying ASAP.

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