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Canning - strawberry jam (no added pectin)

Lingering somewhere in the corners of my brain are the strawberry jam memories of my childhood. I loved spending time in a farmer's patch, eating more ripe red berries straight off the plants than would end up in my basket. Then our home would smell of heavenly strawberries and sugar while my dad bubbled jam in a big pot on the stove to fill the glass jars on the kitchen counter. Now it's my turn to give my kids their own strawberry jam memories.

I would love to be able to say I made this jam with berries from my own garden or that I picked them in a farmer's field with the kids. A better foodie would be writing such things. Truth be told, I made this jam with imported berries that I bought at a super cheap price in plastic containers at a big box store. Ha! I'm not perfect. They looked fab and the thought of dragging the kids (ages 4 and 17 months) through rows of dirt at this particular juncture in their upbringing just didn't get me excited. Cheap, pretty, big box berries it is. At least I'm making my own jam.

To prepare:

  • I heat my jars in boiling water then left them in the hot water until ready to be filled. 
  • The sealing discs and bands were also boiled and left in the hot water until ready for use.
  • I also popped a small plate in the freezer to perform my gel test later on. A gel test is performed by spooning a small amount of hot jam onto the cold plate, then returning the plate to the freezer for about two minutes. If the jam wrinkles slightly when poked with a finger you've got jam. Otherwise you've got a jar of runny strawberry sauce. Not the end of the world, but a bit too runny for jam.

Here's how I made it:
makes enough to fill six 250 ml/8 oz jars

4 lbs fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
5 cups granulated white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

I added all of the ingredients to my largest stock pot and warmed the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolved. The heat was then increased to medium-high and I stirred regularly while the jam bubbled away until it passed a gel test (see above), about 30 to 40 minutes.

The hot jam was ladled through a funnel into my hot jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Using a wet paper towel, the jar rims were wiped clean. I secured the hot sealing discs in place with the bands and processed the jars in the boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes, making sure they were at least an inch below the water surface, then removed the jars to cool completely and seal with a POP!

I like jam made with and without added pectin, but it's nice to know how to make it both ways.

Are you and the kids picking berries this season? Or are you buying the ones I'm buying? Ha! Are you making jam memories? Leave a comment and tell me all about your strawberry plans.