Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strawberry Jam

I bought strawberries at the farmer's market today, and I made some jam. I had some strawberries in my own garden, but I eat them as I pick them, and there are never enough left to make jam. (The ones I bought at the farmer's market didn't taste quite as good as the ones in my garden, but they weren't sprayed.)

I found a lot of different recipes for strawberry jam. Some call for added pectin and some don't. The Joy of Cooking says that jams taste better if you cook them down to the jelling point the old-fashioned way with no added pectin; they say that pectin requires extra sugar, too. But the recipes in the Ball Blue Book that use pectin don't seem to use as much sugar per cup of berries as the recipe in The Joy of Cooking. So, what's a mother to do?

I decided to try The Joy of Cooking recipe first. It calls for a quart of berries and four cups of sugar. You bring that to a boil over low heat; then you boil it without stirring for 15 minutes. Weirdly, you then allow the jam to cool before putting it in the jars. The Joy of Cooking (1975 edition) does not call for processing in a boiling water bath.

I did boil the mixture for fifteen minutes, and I stirred in the juice of half a lemon, but then I immediately poured it hot into the jars, as I wanted to process them for fifteen minutes. I don't know how the jars would seal if you poured cool jam into a jar and then simply capped it.

The jam did set up. The strawberries are floating at the top, but in the past when I made preserves, ingredients that floated later sank into the liquid. So that will probably happen this time too.

Next, I'm going to try a recipe I found on this youtube video:

It calls for a lot less sugar than the Joy of Cooking recipe.

I also made mint jelly, but I'm not sure yet whether that worked or not.

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