Our Best Jam So Far!
I realize that Sue and I haven’t been making jam for very long but I think we have a knack. Is that conceited? Well Sue has a knack and I piggy-back off of her talent. The only thing is that the last two batches of our strawberry jam had nothing to do with Sue’s talents. She went home to ‘print’ and left me with the yeoman’s task of completing the jam. I think she thought that since I insisted that she get another half flat of strawberries that I was on my own to finish it up. No worries – even though it was hours and hours of work. Whatever. It was totally cool and since I had to do it myself I was super focused and attentive and I liked that. Kind of meditative in a way. And I got to experiment with some lemon and thyme. My niece Jane was over for the second batch. She sat near me at the kitchen island and read her book “The Glass Castle” quietly while I puttered around. I liked it. Good reports on the book as well.
The first batch that Sue and I made might be the best of the three batches. We used Harry’s Berrys. Organic of course. The jam is really nice. Amazingly it tastes like Strawberries. Sweet, tart, real strawberry flavor – not like the watery red things you get at odd times of year. The last batch that I made – batch no. 3, I added lemon and thyme to. It’s also nice – Sue loves it - but I think I like the simplicity and purity of batches 1 and 2.
This is how we did it – so simple:
Strawberry Jam (Pectin-free)
(-from many online sources including allrecipes.com, pickyourown.org, dorisandjillycook.com, yummysupper.blogspot.com, etc)
2 pounds organic strawberries (Chandlers are good berries – my mom told me that)
4 cups organic or white sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
Wash and hull the strawberries cutting out that white thing right below the stem. Mash the strawberries (I used a potato masher) – leaving some in tact for texture - in a measuring bowl or measure mashed berries. You want 4 cups of mashed berries. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and then raise the heat and bring the mixture to a full rollicking, rolling boil. Stir often until the mixture reaches 220 °. This could take 20 minutes or it could take 40 minutes. Skim off the foam as you cook. I have a spoon strainer that’s awesome for this job.
While the strawberries are cooking, sterilize your jars in a water bath. Remove the strawberries from the heat when the mixture reaches 220° and spoon into the hot sterile jars leaving about ¼” space at the top. Close the tops but not too tightly. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. When done, remove the jars from the bath. You will hear the pop of the lids sealing. You can now close the jar tops more tightly.
Lemon-Thyme variety of Strawberry jam If you want to turn your delicious strawberry jam into something different (and trendy) you could do the following: Zest one lemon for every 2 ½ cups of strawberries (pre-mash). Simmer the zest for 5 minutes in a pan of water to get the bitterness out. Juice the lemon(s). Mash the berries and add the zest and juice (this is in addition to the ¼ cup lemon juice per 2 pounds of berries) and let the strawberry mash sit overnight in the fridge (“macerate” it). Then start the cooking process. While cooking the jam add 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves for every 2 ½ cups of berries.
Follow the rest of the directions above.
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