I have fond memories as a child picking berries on the beautiful farms near my childhood home in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Living in NYC, I have to swap the green pastures for the crowded Union Square farmers market on Saturday mornings, but we all must make our sacrifices. This weekend, however, I had the pleasure of strawberry picking with my Dad at Manoff’s farm in Solebury, PA. Although we were told the hay fields had been mostly picked clean, we were able to cultivate a heaping flat of delicious, sweet red berries.
What could you do with so many strawberries, you may ask? And I’d have a thousand answers: strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberries and cream, the list could go on. However, we had one recipe in mind, and one recipe only: my mom’s homemade strawberry jam.
Strawberry jam may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really quite simple. Armed with the right equipment (see note below) and fresh, ripe strawberries, anybody can make homemade jam that is better than anything you’ll get in the grocery store. Plus, how impressed will your coworkers and friends be when you present the cute little jars as gifts. It’s really a win, win.
- Canner or large, deep sauce-pot, with lid
- Canning rack (you can do without this, but it’s worth the investment. Can be purchased for less than $20 at any cooking store)
- Cleaned preserving jars with lids and bands (sold in any Homegoods or hardware store)
- Large saucepan – 6-8 quarts
Recipe: Homemade Strawberry Jam
Adapted from Ball – Incredible Jams and Jellies
- 7 cups strawberries, hulled
- 1 pocket powdered pectin
- 8 cups granulated sugar
Prepare your jars
Fill canner halfway full with hot water and set to a boil. Keep water simmering while covered. Heat jars and lids in hot water, but don’t boil, this could cause the lids to seal incorrectly.
Cook your jam
Add strawberries to large sauce-pot and mash with a potato masher or pastry blender to desired consistency (I like lots of fruit in my jam, so the amount of mashing I do is minimal, mash more for less lumpy jam). Stir in fruit pectin slowly. Add 1/2 tbs butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring mixture back to a rolling boil, and boil on high for at least one minute, stirring constantly. Skim foam with a spoon if necessary. Remove from heat.
Fill your jars
Ladle hot jam into a jar that is just removed from the hot or boiling water. It’s helpful to use a funnel. Leave about 1/4 at the top. Clean the rim with a damp cloth to remove any residue. Place hot lid on the jar and screw on bands until it’s tightly closed. Place jars in canner (using a wire rack if you have one) with 1-2 inches of water over the top. Bring water to a gentle, steady boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (This may need to be adjusted depending on your altitude). After 10 minutes, turn off heat and let stand in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner and set upright on towel or wire rack to cool for 12-24 hours. After cooling, test seals by pressing the center of the lid, if the lid does not press up and down (think of a Snapple cap before it is popped) the lids are sealed!
Provided the jars are properly sealed, these will keep up to a year, or until next year’s strawberries are ready for picking! Enjoy!