It’s been almost two weeks since we went to Downey’s Farm in Brampton to pick fresh strawberries. I had a few recipes in mind one of them being the one for strawberry jam that my mom and grandma used to make almost every year. I’ve been very busy lately an had no time to post any recipes but I thought it would be a good idea to share this recipe while strawberries are still in season :-P. Making and canning your own jam is quite easy (or at least it seemed so when my mom was making it)… but to be honest this is my first year making jam so wish me luck! This recipe should work well for raspberry, blackberry and blueberry jam as well. I didn’t want to use any food preservatives or pectin and for this reason I had to use almost equivalent weights of fruit and sugar to make sure the jam sets properly and can be stored for several months (or even years).
Time: Prep: 45 min. Cook: several hours until your jam sets well
Yield: 17 jars of 500ml
- 7 kg fresh strawberries
- 6 kg sugar
- Juice from 6 lemons
- Jars & lids. Lids should have a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.
- At least 2 large pots; one for boiling the jam and the other one to process/sanitize the jars after filling in a boiling water bath. I had to make the jam in batches as I didn’t have a big pot and apparently the best way to make jam is in small batches as it allows for an even heat distribution and the jam ‘sets’ easier.
- Wooden spoons for stirring
- Ladle for distributing jam into jars
The first and easiest step: Pick the Strawberries !
Wash strawberries thoroughly and hull them. Mash strawberries using a hand blender or even a potato masher. You can keep the berries as they are if you like big chunks of fruit in your jam (I usually don’t).
Place them into a large pot, add the sugar and lemon juice. If you don’t want to see your jam overflow down the stove make sure you don’t fill the pot more than two-thirds.
Stir and bring to a boil and skim the foam once in a while. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the jam simmer, stirring constantly.
Test the thickness of the jam periodically (spoon some jam onto a plate and let it cool). If it’s runny and saucy you need to let the jam cook for some more time.
While your jam is simmering, wash the jars in soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Allow them to drip-dry for 15-20 minutes and then place them in a pan (or right on the rack) in the oven set to 225F (100C) to sterilize the jars. Leave them there until you are ready to pour the jam. Make sure the lids are clean and dry as well before using them.
Carefully remove the jars from the oven. Pour jam into hot sterilized canning jars. It’s better to pour half a ladle of jam in each jar to allow the jar to reach almost the same temperature as the jam. Then fill all the jars leaving 1-1.5 cm headspace. This is very important as overfilling can result in a jar that doesn’t seal properly.
Wipe the jars with a clean damp paper towel to remove any residue. Cover jars with lids and process them in a water bath. For the water bath you need a large pot with a rack or other spacer at the bottom so that jars do not rest directly on the bottom of the pot. Or if you want to keep it simple as I did just add some newspapers on the bottom of the pot (newspaper layer should be about 2/3 cm thick) and make some deep cuts with a sharp knife to let the bubbles in the boiling water escape. Add enough hot water to cover the jars by 2-3 cm. Bring the water to a gentle boil and process them for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water and cover them with a blanket until they are completely cooled (this must be a Romanian thing as I haven’t seen it in any other recipes ). The purpose of the blanket is to allow the jars to cool slowly and help the lids seal properly.
After the jars are completely cooled if you can press the center of the lid down, it did not seal. If any jars have not sealed, you can either try processing them again in a water bath or just refrigerate them.
Voila, you’re done! After all this hard work you can enjoy the fruits of your labour