Monday, August 8, 2011

Adventures in Jam-making

Making and freezing fresh jam, how delightfully domestic! A few months ago we stumbled across a crazy deal at Safeway which left us with bunches and bunches of nearly free strawberries, more than anyone could be expected to eat. So we tried this recipe which was lovely, but a little runny, and I don't have the experience or gumption to "Can" or properly preserve. Then, having gotten the courage up to try more recipes, I bought some powdered Sure-Jell and tried a fresh no-cook recipe. It turned out good, so I decided to try another cooked recipe, but it was not great, and again I didn't want to can or preserve it. So we tried again, and came out with our favorite which I have now made three times.

Why should you make your own jam? Well, you can control your own ingredients. Instead of what's listed here (high fructose corn syrup alert!):

you can use as little as 3 or 4 ingredients. You can use organic berries, organic sugar, you can even pick your own strawberries!

One more tip, at my farmer's market one vendor sells "Jam berries", which is an entire flat or strawberries or raspberries for $10 (ordinarily at least $25)! This flat has some berries that have gone south, so it needs to be picked through on the same day, but MAN was it worth it! I found about 5-10 individual berries that couldn't be salvaged, but the rest were great. I just picked through and sliced them up when I got home and had a TON. I gave away some baskets to neighbors, had enough for two big batches of jam with leftovers. Ask your farmer's market vendors for jam berries, it's worth a try!

Freezer or Fresh jam is my pick, as you don't have to can or preserve it, and it is made with uncooked fresh berries, so it's faster to make and fresher. It also uses 1/2 the sugar! I like the Sure Jell Certo, because it takes out even 1 more step, as the jell is ready to use from the packet.

Quick & Easy Strawberry Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo

Crush berries 1 cup at a time. You can use a potato masher, but I found it easiest to use a food processor to a fine chop. Bits of fruit should be remaining. Measure fruit into a bowl.

Measure exact amount of sugar and add to fruit. (Don't try to skimp on the sugar, as it won't set properly.) Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you're feeling really saucy you can add a touch of vanilla.

Stir pectin into lemon juice. Add to fruit and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into prepared containers, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Refrigerate for 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year.


Ever read the ingredients on your strawberry yogurt container? Lots of additives there too, and tons of sugar. We buy plain organic yogurt and add some jam to that. Granola on top and it's a yummy parfait too!

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