Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jammin' in the Kitchen

It's been a lot of years since my spouse and I made strawberry jam.  We aren't big jelly/jam eaters.  Years ago, when we lived in rural Arkansas and had access to wild strawberries, elderberries, sumac, and blackberries (and my red and black raspberry plants), and nearby peach orchards, we used the bounty of Nature to make homemade jams, jellies and marmalade.

But that was many years ago.

We still enjoy going to U-Pick places for blueberries and raspberries.  Yesterday, a U-Pick farm in the area around our home near Johnson City, New York announced that today was going to be its last day for strawberry picking.  At the same time, they were picking raspberries.  Blueberries were still a week away, otherwise we would have had a fruit trifecta.
The strawberry plants still had many ripe berries for the picking.  We picked about 6 pounds in short order.  As usual, we got carried away and picked more than we needed. (But it's so much fun, dear readers!) 

I'm not the biggest fan of frozen berries, and my spouse is not a fan of fruit pie or quick bread (!) so I knew we needed to do something fast with these berries.  They were almost too ripe.  I can hear all my readers screaming "STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!" but I am on Weight Watchers.

Then, we went to the raspberry bushes.  There, the pickings were not as easy, between the brambles, wild thistles all over the area, and a shortage of ripe berries.  So we ended up with fewer raspberries than we wanted.

But, all those strawberries!  Those wonderful, soft strawberries, warm from the sun, bursting with juice.  Pleading with me to be eaten.  How could I resist?

A couple of days ago, I had seen this almost sugar free recipe for strawberry jam online.  It sounded good-only two tablespoons of sugar for five half pints of jam.  And, just my luck, our local supermarket had this special Ball pectin for no or low sugar jams.  Alas, it was a cooked jam, but you can't have everything.

So, while my spouse dug out long unused half pint jars, washed them in soapy water, got lids out (we still can, just not much, so we had the needed supplies) and got the canning kettle to boiling, I also set to work.
First, I took two pounds of the strawberries we picked earlier today, hulled, and washed them.
I crushed them with a potato masher.  To this, I added 1/2 cup water and two tablespoons sugar.  Finally, I added two tablespoons of this type pectin that hadn't even existed the last time I made jam.

Bringing to a hard boil, I boiled for one minute.  Then, my spouse ladled the jam into the waiting, sterilized jars. They went into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  (Most people would skim the foam off the top, but we were too lazy.)
Out it comes.

The finished result.

Now, doesn't this make you long for some vanilla low fat yogurt with a strawberry topping?  No?  What would you have done?

Comment below!

13 comments:

  1. Alana, YUMMMM. I'm totally with you on the lavish beauty, fragrance, and general miraculous nature of fresh fruits. One summer I was privileged to pick wild strawberries in the Rocky Mountains. But you are braver than me to make the jam and be near that boiling water bath. I admire you and your spouse! Jam on!

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    1. I admire people who can by themselves, Kebba. My husband does that sometimes. I don't think I would ever try it- it can be a bit dangerous! But one can also make freezer jam. And I agree, wild strawberries are the best. I've been privileged to have them, too.

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  2. Oh yummy, I am drooling from beginning to end of this post. Low sugar jam sounds perfect. I live in California and have easy access to berries. Thanks for the inspiration and the recipe. Loved all the photos, too! Stopping by from UBC.
    Minette

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    1. Minette, I hope you get a chance to make the recipe, and get to enjoy it. The low sugar nature preserves the taste of the fruit so well. Next time, I may try a freezer jam, so I don't need to cook it at all.

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  3. Oooh, that looks so good. I'm a huge peanut butter and jelly fan, so this would go to my sandwiches.

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    1. Nothing better than peanut butter and a good, fresh, jelly or jam. I agree!

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  4. OMG! YUM YUM so book marled this so I am going to make this love it thanks :-)

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    1. I hope you enjoy the jam, Dannie. Good luck; I hope that particular pectin is available where you live.

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  5. Oh my, I love strawberries! Plain, in yogurt, on cereal, in jam or jelly, AND in smoothies! I don't think there's any "wrong" way to enjoy strawberries! ;-)

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    1. Yes, aren't strawberries wonderful? Especially when they are local. This year's crop was so sweet! I'll be blogging later this week about another strawberry adventure I had yesterday.

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  6. The strawberries look beautiful!
    I remember being little and going strawberry picking in the summer. It was an annual thing in June! ;)

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    1. That must be a wonderful memory, Sophie. I was raised in NYC and while we had a lot of things to do, strawberry picking was not one of them.

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  7. I'm particularly fond of freezer jam, myself--the flavor stays fresher. But this brought back memories of my childhood, when my family would travel out to my grandmother's house in Western New York and we would pick quarts and quarts of berries. My grandmother would give me berries at every meal, even with whipped cream at breakfast! Then we would make the 5 hour drive home, and the car would smell so, so sweet with all those berries! Over the next two or three days, my mother and I made enough cooked jam to last all winter, plus several containers of frozen berries, which we would eat over vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the memories!

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