Monday, August 2, 2010

Peak of Perfection Strawberry Jam

"With jam and bread, with jam and bread!"  Maria sings out with the children during the climax of "Do Re Mi" in one of my favorite movies of all time, "The Sound of Music".  Yes, I'm a bit obsessed with musicals and at times burst into song--a lot, actually.  What better to sing about then homemade sweet strawberry jam that has been freshly preserved in your own kitchen?  What's not to love about the beautiful jewel toned color of the ripest crushed strawberries that are cooked down with sugar until it becomes the lovliest jam to have ever been spread on a hot biscuit or flakey croissant?!  No wonder it's such a favorite not only in my home, but in about every Southern kitchen alike!  This strawberry jam recipe is simple but  perfectly sweet and one anybody would love to receive as a gift with some freshly baked bread...just as Maria sings about!

This was actually the first time I attempted to make jam, and I was fully prepared to fail on the first try. This summer I've been blessed to be able to take a break from work, so I decided set aside the time to do this old fashioned tradition of (made from scratch) canning; and I was very pleasantly surprised.   This recipe comes from my good 'ole faithful Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my mom gave me when I got married, and if you follow the direction I think it's no-fail.  So, if you find the time to make this deliciously summer jam I hope that you try this recipe and share with others.  Get ready to make a lot, because it will be best loved!  Strawberry jam will surely be a new tradition in my home every summer!

A few tips:
* First, I did a rough chop on the (peak of perfection-ripe) strawberries.  The recipe doesn't say to do this, but it made the mashing easier for me. Unless, of course you have tiny ripe strawberries.Then you can take a potato masher or pastry blender and crush the strawberries.
*I really timed the cooking as it says so that it would not be too thick.  Don't worry if it seems too runny while pouring into the jars, because the jam will thicken as it cools.
*I made sure that my jars were very thoroughly sterlized in the boiling water and completely immersed.  Lids, as well.  I was so happy to quickly hear each one of the "pops" that come from the jar's lids sealing into place.  It was so rewarding that I think I actually jumped up and down!  Like I said I didn't think my first batch would turn out, but I think
the Lord helped me out.

Strawberry Jam
2 Quarts fresh strawberries, hulled
1- 1 3/4 oz. package of regular powdered fruit pectin
1/2 tsp.butter (this just helps minimize the foam--can't taste it)
7 c. sugar

Place 1 cup of berries in an 8 quart heavy kettle.  Crush berries (see picture).  Continue adding berries and crushing until you have 5 cups of crushed berries.  Stir in pectin and butter.  Heat on high, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil (see picture). Add sugar all at once.  Return to boiling; boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.  Ladle into hot, sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 in. headspace.  Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.  Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil).  Remove jars; and wait to hear the seal "pop" into place. Tighten the lids all the way, and cool on racks.


Shareen Dunn said...

This was delicious, Leslie. there was almost a fight in the Dunn household as we all fought for the last tablespoon of it. We finished it off in a week.

Kelly said...

My mom makes this and it is SO delicious! Did you pick your strawberries somewhere or just get them at the grocery? I was a little late in going to our farmer's market, so I am going to have to wait until next year. How was the move; we saw Aunt Lynda and Uncle Gerald this past weekend and they said that you guys were doing great!

Leslie said...

Shareen, I'm so glad everyone like it! I am pretty excited, myself, that it actually turned out! :)

Kelly, I was a little late for the strawberries at Farmer's Market, too.(It was probably 2nd wk.of July)I bought these strawberries from Kroger. They were still very in season,small and beautiful for being atthe grocery. The move down was great! We love our place, and it's nice being closer to family:) Hope you guys are doing well!