For the last 10 or so Memorial Day weekends, my sweet love, Christopher John, and I have made strawberry jam together. I’m fairly convinced that this sealed the deal on our decision to share our lives together.
While jam making is fairly easy – as I will explain shortly – making it with someone calls for coordination, communication and teamwork. Otherwise, you wind up with boiling hot jam on your hand. Not good.
As we made our first batch those many years ago and Chris tasted the fruits of our labor (pun fully intended), he declared, “This is kick ass!” Thus, the name.
In my humble opinion, life is truly glorious when you can sink your teeth into a freshly baked scone loaded with homemade strawberry jam and a dollop of clotted cream. The sweet freshness and brilliant ruby color of the jam are a feast for palate and eyes.
For any preserving, there is some equipment that is very handy to have:
- An enamelware canner with rack;
- Canning jar lifter;
- Canning funnel;
- Canning lid rack (made by Norpro).
The recipe we use for our jam is actually from the Sure Jell pink box of premium fruit pectin. It’s critical to make sure that the pectin is still with in its “Use Before” date. Old pectin may cause the jam to not firm up. In addition, Chris and I learned the hard way that you need to use the exact amount of sugar and the exact amount of fruit called for in the recipe. If you try to use less, especially the sugar, the jam will not firm up properly. So here we go!
6 pints of fully ripe strawberries
4 cups of sugar
1 box, Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin (pink box)
½ teaspoon of butter (this reduces foaming when the jam cooks)
What to do:
- Bring boiling water canner, ¾ full with water, to a gentle boil.
- Bring a small saucepot into which the canning lid rack fits, ¾ full with water, to a simmer.
- Wash jar lids in hot, soapy water and rinse with warm water. Stand them up in the canning lid rack and put them back into the saucepot. Keep at a low simmer.
- Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water and rinse with warm water. Place hot jars on a cookie sheet in a 200° (Fahrenheit) oven so they stay hot. Screwbands can be dried and set aside until needed.
- In a food processor, pulse to chop the strawberries (do not puree!) to make 6 cups of crushed strawberries. The jam should have bits of fruit.
- Measure the exact amount of prepared fruit into a 6- or 8-quart stockpot.
- Measure the exact amount of sugar into a separate bowl.
- Mix ¼ cup of sugar from measured amount and the box of Sure Jell pectin in a small bowl.
- Stir pectin-sugar mixture into fruit in the sauce pot. Add the ½ teaspoon butter to reduce foaming.
- Bring the mixture to a full roiling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Stir in remaining sugar quickly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
- Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids and screw on band. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. Water must cover jars by 1-2 inches. Cover pot; process jars for 10 minutes (Note: If you are at a high altitude, go here to see specific directions for adjusting the processing time).
Lift canning rack out of boiling water using two long handled spoons. Use jar lifter to remove jars from rack.
Place hot jars on a baking cooling rack. The lids should pop as the jars cool to let you know that they have sealed. After jars cool completely, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and you’ll need to refrigerate the jam. Let the jars stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Store unopened jam in a cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate opened jam up to 3 weeks.