Three Times a Charm Strawberry Jam

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I finally succeeded in making Strawberry Jam.  It took me three tries.  I started this adventure last year.  I got all excited and tried to make twelve 1/2 pints of jam.  I don’t remember what I thought went wrong at this point but it basically came out a syrup.  Still delicious but not jam.

So this year I vowed to rectify that mistake and put up as much jam as possible.  We are planning to can Strawberry Jam from our pick your own strawberry outing at Stevenson’s Strawberries in Wayne,ME.  We are also growing raspberries and ground cherries that I would like to try jamming (that is the technical term for canning jam I believe).  Between Spencer’s love of the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Norah’s tendency to make jam slathered toast before we wake up and can stop her, we usually end up buying jam every couple weeks.

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Every year we take the kids strawberry picking in Wayne.  My mom’s family has a camp on Pocasset Lake and I consider Wayne one of my favorite places in Maine.  If you have never been there and are looking for a perfect little town then this is it.  It has a general store with a bridge and waterfall behind it, ice cream shop, lakes, and everything you need to relax.  Our favorite thing to do though, is go strawberry picking (you can check out our Facebook page for a photo of baby maniac enjoying her first Stevenson’s strawberry).  Every year we load up trays of strawberries at Stevenson’s and bring them back to enjoy.  This year we are making jam.

We got to Wayne late this year, it was mid July and strawberry season was just wrapping up.  The berries were very ripe which after failing the second time at jam making and researching I learned riper berries have less pectin in them.  Nothing to fret about, I remade and the jam turned out fantastic.  I will go through the entire process of failing and redoing the jam.  I am not an expert canner so I was going straight off the Ball Fresh Preserving recipe for Strawberry Jam halved.

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To begin I processed 2 1/2 lbs of strawberries in a food processor after washing and removing tops.  I do not like chunky jam so I processed it to be smooth.  That went into a pot with 1/4 cup lemon juice and I turned the heat to medium high and stirred in 3 tablespoon Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin.  The recipe called for Ball Classic Pectin but the only kind at the store when I bought it was the Ball Instant Pectin and I wondered afterwards if that had made a difference.

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I brought the pot to a rolling boil and stirred in 3 1/2 cups sugar.  I did in fact die a little adding that much sugar into what I believed would be 4 total 1/2 pints of jam.  My thought process is that I need to get the basics down before I start fooling around with making reduced sugar and pectin canning recipes.

Once the sugar is stirred in I brought it back to boil and let it go for a few minutes while stirring.  Then removed from heat and readied canning jars that had been simmering in hot water in another pot.

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Using a funnel and ladle I filled six jars with jam, wiped rims, and added the covers.  Filling six jars surprised me since halving the recipe I thought I would only get me 4 jars.  That was my first clue.

I processed in the water bath for 10 minutes and removed to let the jars rest for a day.  I let them rest 48 hours before checking them and the jars looked runny on the inside.  I let them sit another day and checked them again.  This time I turned it upside down and it just ran like soup in a jar.  I was pretty annoyed at this point since I had been planning to do a Strawberry Jam blog post for the next day but it wasn’t to be.  Instead I had to research what went wrong and how I could fix it.

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Well it turns out you can empty the cans, add more pectin and reprocess.  That is pretty handy for someone who enjoys doing things the hard way like me.  I learned that ripe berries have less pectin in them so I was confident I could boil again and add more pectin to fix the problem.

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The jam went back into the pot and 2 more tablespoons of pectin was added.  I boiled for another 5 minutes or so and the jam was noticeably thicker.

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Only extreme heat kept me for sticking my head in the bowl and licking the leftover jam. Cooking jam smells amazing.  I sterilized jars and used new lids and reprocessed in water bath canner again.  This time I only got 4 jars instead of 6 in the first batch.  I felt that was a good sign.

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I gave it two days before checking on the jam and when I did I could tell it was good.  I popped the top off one can and put some bread in the toaster.

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Delicious, fruity and sweet (it should be with all the sugar in it) but you can really taste the strawberries so much more in this home canned jam.

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It took me three tries but I feel I righted a wrong from last years summer season and I am looking forward to trying raspberries next!



Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.