This past weekend, my family visited a local strawberry farm & picked 22 pounds of strawberries. No big deal. Although I had jam on on the brain going into this picking frenzy, I wasn’t expecting to pick quite that many, but it was just so hard to stop. I really don’t know why I’m that surprised, because I kind of have a food hoarding problem. Well, that’s what John & I have decided to call whatever my issue is. I’ve talked about it before, but basically whenever I find a steal of a deal on something local, fresh, & delicious, I go just a smidge overboard (as demonstrated with last summer with green beans, peaches, apples, tomatoes… oh I could go on & on). Thank goodness we invested in a huge additional freezer for our basement so I can hoard all these goodies & not have to get rid of all of our “normal” frozen goods just to make room for whatever current obsession I’m facing.
I haven’t made jam for a few years, mostly because the last couple of Junes it has been miserably hot & humid in Wisconsin & just the thought of being out in a damp field for hours, bending over picking strawberries sounded awful. The last time I made jam, I actually purchased all of the strawberries & although they were still local & very tasty, it didn’t really save me any money. This year, even in spite of being 25 weeks pregnant, I wanted to attempt to pick berries, so I recruited my 2 favorite helpers & we got to work on Saturday bright & early.
You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day! It was literally 75 degrees with a cool breeze. We went at 8:30am, which definitely contributed to the comfortable temperature, & I’m so glad we got up early enough to really enjoy it. The place was packed, which added to my excitement (I think I said, “this is so much fun” approximately 348 times). I loved seeing the array of different people on their hands & knees, picking the berries, & I daydreamed about what they would be making with their treasures. I pictured old grannies slaving away later in the day making their jams & jellies & smiled a smile of satisfaction, knowing that I would be doing the exact same thing as them.
The farm where we picked was only about a 15-minute drive from our house & we picked all the berries in under an hour, so it wasn’t even a huge chunk of time that we committed to the endeavor. And at $1.69 a pound, all of our labor was definitely worth it!
I think I ate my first born child’s weight in strawberries while I washed & prepared the berries for the jam & it was obvious that my second unborn child was also in love, as evidenced by the crazy kicks I was experiencing all afternoon. I think s/he was literally doing sommersaults in there, but that’s totally understandable. These were probably some of the best berries I’ve ever eaten!
The whole jam process took me about 3 hours from set-up to clean-up, but I made 4 batches. In the recipe below, it makes 4 pint-sized jars of jam, & I ended up with 18 when all was said & done. My first batch, I followed the recipe below & then for my second batch, I doubled the recipe which totally works too (I wasn’t sure if the math/timing would work out in my favor by doubling it & it did perfectly fine). Then I had to follow-up with one more single batch & to be honest, I might have done a few more if I hadn’t run out of Sure-Jell or emptied the 10-pound bag of sugar that I was using…
We will be enjoying this homemade strawberry jam for the next year or so, which is awesome because Ruby begs for a pb&j just about every day & I’ve been spending a lot of money of jam (the good stuff is expensive!) I used about half of my berries to make jam & have big plans for the rest of them. I froze about 5-6 pounds, I’m making roasted strawberry & toasted coconut popsicles, as well as a strawberry cream pie (with a dark chocolate crust!!!) this week (recipes coming soon) & yesterday I sucked down a marvelous fruit & vegetable smoothie. Last night we devoured pancakes with strawberries & whip cream & I’m sure we’ll scarf down the rest of them in other creative ways—Ruby was dipping hers in goat cheese over lunch! A foodie in the making!
To make 8 cups, or 4 pints of jam (you can double this recipe):
- 5 cups prepared fruit
- *7 cups sugar
- 1 box Sure-Jell
- Jam jars (they do not need to be new)
- New lids
*If you would rather use less sugar, make sure you buy less or no sugar needed pectin. Do not attempt to use less sugar with the “regular” pectin or your jam will not set properly.
To prepare your jars, make sure they are thoroughly clean & then set the jars & new lids in boiling water. Keep them hot until you are ready to pour the jam into them. While your jars & lids are heating up, prepare the strawberries.
To prepare the fruit, pulse about 2 quarts fully ripe strawberries in the food processor (do not pulse until you get a puree— you want some bits of fruit left). Measure the prepared fruit into a stockpot (make sure you get exactly 5 cups of fruit). Measure the sugar into bowl & set aside. Place the pan holding the fruit over high heat. Add the Sure-Jell, & stir constantly until it comes to a hard boil, which means it will still boil even when you’re stirring it. Add the sugar all at once & mix in quickly. Bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove the jam from the heat, skim off the top foam & discard & pour the jam into the hot jars using a jam funnel (leave 1/4 inch room from the top). I like to use these tongs to get the hot jars out of the water & this device for grabbing the hot lids.
Once the jam is in the jars, wipe off the rims & seal with new lids (MUST be new). Then to make the jars completely seal, I set the jars upside down & let them rest for 24 hours.