Small Batch Soft Strawberry Jam
Growing up, we always had a jar of homemade strawberry jam in the fridge. It was my favorite, and if we're being totally honest, I think the best part was licking the spoon clean. There's something about the sweetness of strawberries and the fresh taste of homemade jam that just makes me want to dump the entire jar on a piece of toast. But I also used to watch my mom make that jam...and it never seemed like an easy process. I remember hot kitchens, giant pots, lots of boiling water and hot things, massive amounts of strawberries, and a questionably large bag of sugar.
Luckily, I ran across a great book about small batch canning that let me jump into the process without totally diving in. If you're new to canning and preserving, I highly highly recommend checking it out. This recipe doesn't require pectin, so try to pick berries that are ripe but not overripe. Pectin content decreases as the fruit continues to ripen. More on pectin here if you're interested.
Small patch preserving means you'll get about four to six jars out of each recipe. It's a great size because you can do two or three different batches and get enough jam to last you through the winter. And you aren't stuck with a huge amount of one type of jam (although I would totally be fine with a full pantry of strawberry jam..).
I won't go into the details of sterilizing the jars or sealing the cans, but if you haven't tried this before, I'd recommend picking up the book or at least doing some serious googling. Food in Jars is another great online resource for preserving and canning. And if you're not quite up to the full canning process, you can always whip up a batch of freezer jam. It won't last as long, but it's way easier and Ball now sells fancy freezer jam jars (they're made to freeze) alongside their traditional jam jars.
- 8 cups of sliced strawberries (about 3 pints)
- 6 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- Prepare the preserving jars and lids.In your preserving pot, crush the strawberries lightly with a potato masher. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil rapidly, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes or until it's slightly thickened. Start timing once the jam is boiling, not before. Jam should be between 218F and 220F when it's done.
- Remove from heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. If there's a large amount of foam on the top, you can skim it off with a spoon. Pour the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch head space. Funnels are great for this process! Wipe the top of the rims clean with a moist paper towel, place one of the hot lids on the jar, and screw a screw-band onto the jar. Don't screw it too tight, you want it to be about finger-tip tight.
- Process the jars using a hot water bath for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes is up, pull the jars out of the water and let them rest on a cooling rack with space between them. As they start to cool you'll hear them start to pop. You should hear one per jar - the sign of success! Some jars take 24 hours to seal, so check them after a while for indentations on the lid (you shouldn't be able to press down on the lid). If a jar won't seal, your best bet is to throw them in the fridge and eat that one first!
- Make sure you label your jam, especially if you're going to make more than one batch. Though jam will last quite a while (many say around eighteen months to two years), it's best to eat up your older batches first. Proper labeling will make sure you don't lose any of that precious jam. Store them in a cool, dark, and dry spot.
Now go make some fresh biscuits or a batch of fresh english muffins and enjoy that jam!