Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're Jammin'

OK, so surprise, surprise I made strawberry jam today!
I know this can seem like an amazingly complex undertaking, so I am here to assure you -its not. If I can do it with my children hangin' around and make a few mistakes along the way, you are capable too!
Look, I'll even show you how:

First have your husband cut up all the strawberries - just kidding, but he did volunteer to help once he saw me trying to cook, measure and stir all at once.(There is also the rhubarb for tomorrow in this photo, so you kind of get a sneak peek)

You need about 2 cups of crushed strawberries, which is about 3 and a half whole strawberries sliced up.

At the same time measure out 4 cups of sugar.

Cook the berries over a relatively high heat while mashing them up at the same time. I am not a huge fan of chunks of fruit, so I mash them a lot. At about the same time- add a box of pectin.

  Pectin by the way  is  essentially an acidic substance found in citrus fruit that helps the gelling process. ( some fruits are already high in pectin- apples, apricots, cherries, and oranges- and don't absolutely need the additive to make jams and jellies, others always need it. Strawberries are always in need of a little help.)

Let it come to a rolling boil. This is a boil that you cannot stir down. What that means to all of you who aren't kitchen savvy is that if you are not wearing oven mitts when this process of boiling begins, your hands will soon be blistered.

Add the 4 cups of sugar and once again return to a rolling boil. Hopefully by now you've found the oven mitts.

Let it boil like this stirring constantly for a whole minute ( time it).

When its done, pour it into clean hot jars -almost to the top ( about 1/8 in. off).I generally try to pour it from the pot into a huge measuring cup so I can pour it from there neatly.

Immediately after pouring tighten lids real good and turn upside down.

Set the timer for 5 minutes. When it beeps, turn them back over.

Add labels and date. (I call mine Ellie's Jellies- I don't know if you'll be able to rhyme your label)

I use an inversion method for canning which is the lazy mans way of doing things ( or the incredibly efficient mother of ten children way of doing things). It is not as perfect a method for canning as say a boiling water bath, but I am far past looking for perfection. In earnest I have never had any problem with the inversion method. I can always hear the vaccuum seal on my jars as they cool  ( its such a neat popping sound). It has not failed me yet. Of course it helps to listen to good music while you work.
Have fun!

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