Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle

Strawberry Jam – An Old Friend

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Small strawberries that pack a big flavor.

Small strawberries that pack a big flavor.

My mom made strawberry jam a lot when I was young, we loved it. It was actually her least favorite to make, because you have to remove all the stems. Every other berry she used could just be washed and put into the blender, and the slicing made for quite a bit more work.

Cutting the tops off each strawberry is a bit time consuming. Make sure you have some good music on before you start!

Cutting the tops off each strawberry is a bit time consuming. Make sure you have some good music on before you start!

So after she retired, she suggested stopping the strawberry jam. Well, we all said, “of course,” but D hesitated for just a moment. You see, not only is strawberry his favorite jam, it’s the only one he ever craved. So a couple of years in a row, she made small batches of strawberry jam just for him. If you ever doubted that food can equal love, I think that’s proof. And to me it was a sweet sign that she loved my husband, and that he was truly a part of the family.

I know I'm supposed to use a food mill or mash the strawberries, but I just use a blender.

I know I’m supposed to use a food mill or mash the strawberries, but I just use a blender.

After mom died, my first jam success was strawberry jam. A few years back I made the Sure-Jell low-sugar recipe. That’s a pretty great recipe! We took the jam on a long road trip and had delicious English muffins with pb&j every morning. The texture is unexpectedly soft – like apple butter – but it’s actually really nice and incredibly easy to spread.

As the jam cooks, it foams. I added butter in the second batch, which I've never done before, to reduce foaming. It still foamed, but definitely less.

As the jam cooks, it foams. I added butter in the second batch, which I’ve never done before, to reduce foaming. It still foamed, but definitely less. I don’t mind skimming the foam, because then I get to eat it after it cools.

I won’t bother with all the instructions here, because I use the exact recipe that Sure-Jell posts here: Sure-Jell Low Sugar Strawberry Jam. I got exactly 8 cups (which I put into 2 pint jars and 4 half-pint jars).

Pouring jam into jars, using a funnel. I do it on this little toaster tray to minimize mess.

Pouring jam into jars, using a funnel. I do it on this little toaster tray to minimize mess.

It may be getting late in the season for strawberries, but they’re still out there (at least up here in the north.) My first batch was in June, when I got day-old berries at a farmer’s market for half price. For this batch I got the berries Wednesday and let sit unrefrigerated for a couple hours, then refrigerated over night, to try and mimic the amazing so-ripe-but-not-quite-too-ripe flavor from last time. It worked, and I didn’t have to throw as many away from being actually overripe.

The berry in the middle is a little too seedy. I cut off the bottom as well as the top on berries like this, to reduce seediness and bitterness.

The berry in the middle is a little too seedy. I cut off the bottom as well as the top on berries like this, to reduce seediness and bitterness.

In the late season like this, you may need to cut away more seeds than normal. As the berries mature, the seeds get bitter. Any that are really bunched up I cut off. It made for a little more work, but the results are hard to argue with. The jam is delicious and friendly, it’s a long-time favorite for a reason. I can’t wait to eat it all winter!

Taste test! The jam on the left is the new batch, the right is from June. There are slight differences, due to type of berry and ripeness, but both delicious. And the winner is... me, obviously!

Taste test! The jam on the left is the new batch, the right is from June. There are slight differences, due to type of berry and ripeness, but both delicious. And the winner is… me, obviously!

3 thoughts on “Strawberry Jam – An Old Friend

  1. Pingback: Popovers – the best way to eat jam! | Soil and Cellar

  2. Pingback: Things I’ve learned so far… | Soil and Cellar

  3. Pingback: New Years Resolutions and 2014 Recap | Soil and Cellar

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