Friday, June 20, 2008

In a jam

A few weekends ago we realized that it was the middle of strawberry season AND there was a pick your own strawberry field just outside of town. Fresh strawberries? Um, yes please!

We fell in love with the cute little farm and went a little overboard with the picking...2 gallons overboard! It was only $20 and a bit of our time, and it was nice to get out in the field and out of the city for a bit.

Nonetheless, we had a LOT of berries. That means it's JAM TIME!

Now here's the rub. Neither the boy nor myself have ever made jam. So it was bound to get interesting.

First we discovered that pectin, the stuff you need to make jam all jam-like and not soupy, requires a ton of sugar. The stuff we had was about 7 cups/batch. Ick. I can't stand overly sweet strawberry jam....I like it to have a little bite to it! Fortunately we ran across this article from the UT agriculture school and discovered low-sugar pectin. And being the scientist that I am, we decided to do an unofficial test of two brands: Ball and Sure Jell.

And then the fun began.

First, the decapitation

One gallon down, one to go!

And sterilization of the jars:

We followed the directions on the pectin boxes, which of course meant that the Ball batch was different than the Sure Jell batch. For instance, the Ball pectin required apple juice to set while Sure Jell did not. But the Sure Jell did require a certain amount of sugar (4 cups I think) while the Ball let you use a range of sugar, or sweetener, or even honey! We kept it simple and went for sugar.

The berries were beaten to a pulp and the cooking of the strawberry goo was fast and furious. Of course, the boy had to show reclaim his manliness by drinking a Guinness while stirring jam in my apron!

Not the cleanest project in the world, but fun! We bought this kit when buying jars, and it was TOTALLY worth it. Jar lifter, lid lifter magnetic stick thing, and funnel. Yeah, you need those!

Ten minutes in a boiling water bath, 24 hrs on the counter and.....

Whew! Lotsa jam. Now we are going to have to eat a whole lot of toast....


  1. Yummy! I have always wanted to try "cannin'" (as they say in the South). Your jam looks delish!

  2. Hi! Sarah from the Janome 6600 list here..... I make jam too..... I'll bet you'd like the Pomona's Universal Pectin that I get at the natural foods store / organic co-op. It lets you make low-sugar jam that uses less sweetener (sugar, honey, whatevah) that the low-sugar Ball or Sure-Jell pectins, and it sets up beautifully. The low-sugar jams aren't as clear and jelled as full-sugar, but they actually taste like the fruit, not just sweet.

    And wait 'til you are feeding kids PB&J every day... I make 40 pint jars a year... all in one day (phew!)... my blogging about jam is around July 1 on my blog....

    See you back on the Janome list, Cheers, Sarah

  3. Thanks Sarah Ann! I'll definitely check that pectin out.

    40 pints in one day? Whoa, that's a lot of jam....Kudos to you!