Strawberry Jam Class
Last week I took my first canning class in the Lexington Co-Op‘s series that begins in the summer and lasts through the fall. My mom and I really enjoyed Â our class to learn how to make and can strawberry jam. Held at the beautiful and spacious Artisan Kitchens and Baths on Amherst Street, the location provided the perfect atmosphere for a hands-on demonstration. The folks from the Co-Op, Joann and Heather, were welcoming and knowledgeable, as was our teacher, Kathy Manley. My mom and I took what we learned and strawberry jammed our hearts out this week. Here’s the recipe and everything you’ll need to make jam at home:
- Glass canning jars
- Lids and bands
- Rubber spatula
- Jar lifter (Warning: do not use regular kitchen tongs — it’s very dangerous! These nifty jar lifters have special rubber grips made for safely grabbing the canning jars when they’re piping hot.)
- Lid wand (Again, this inexpensive little tool helps make your experience a safe one. The magnetic wand allows you to pick up the lids while they’re in the hot water. Not only does it save your hands from burning, but it keeps you from transmitting bacteria that live on your hands even after washing.)
- Large pot (for cooking jam)
- Large pot (for keeping jars warm)
- Small pot (for keeping lids warm)
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- Damp cloth
- Check jars. Ensure there are no nicks or cracks.
- Use new lids. (While the jars and bands can be reused, the lids must be new every time you can/jar/pickle.)
- Discard any rusty bands.
- Wash jars and lids. Leave jars in hot water until ready to use.
- Fill large pot with water; place on stove and bring to boil.
6 cups crushed strawberries (about 3 qts.)
4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 box SURE-JELLÂ® for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes
- Wash jars, lids and screw bands in hot soapy water or in dishwasher.
- Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to a simmer.
- Place lids in small pot of boiling water and turn heat down to simmer. Let lids stand in simmering water until ready to use.
- Add jars to large pot of boiling water. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Be sure to drain them well before using.
- Wash and stem berries. (Most fresh berries can be easily shucked without the use of a knife; simply twist the tops off.)
- Crush 1 cup of berries at a time, using a potato masher or similar kitchen tool for best results.
- Measure crushed fruit into sauce pan.
- Measure sugar into a separate bowl. Note: Do not use artificial sweetener of any kind (besides that it is harmful to your health) because it would require a separate recipe with different proportions of berries, sugar, pectin, etc.
- Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and pectin in small bowl.Â Stir pectin-sugar mixture into saucepan of crushed fruit.
- Bring pot of strawberries to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. It should not stop bubbling when stirred. Note: videos of the various cooking stages are included at the bottom of this post.
- Stir in remaining 3 3/4 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
This recipe yields about eight half-pint jars.
The smell of the strawberries is intoxicating. Your whole house will be filled with the deliciousÂ scent of summer when all your fresh berries are piled up along your counter, and then they head to the stove and the magic happens as you stir and the pot bubbles. The sweetness bursts up from the pot as you’re cooking the berries, with color and flavor literally oozing out of them. A word regarding cook time: if you are working on an electric stove, you might notice the cooking stages for the strawberries move more quickly than on a gas range.
I’ve tried (and by tried, I mean tasted) many different recipes of strawberry jam since I was a kid, and I think this is the most genuine strawberry flavor I’ve ever had in a jam. The strawberry really shines through in this recipe because it’s not too sweet and not too jelly-like in consistency. Call me crazy, but I want to tell it’s actuallyÂ made from fresh strawberries — and with this one, there’s no denying it.
For those who haven’t canned before, I recommend borrowing equipment from a friend or family member if you’d like to give it a go without the commitment of purchasing anything. With that said, I was pleased to see how inexpensive the basic canning equipment is! I received this Ball tool kit as a birthday gift from my mom and it’s perfect.
For beginners like me, I recommend exploring this website. I’ve also enjoyed looking through books and magazines for recipes and ideas.
Give it a go and you’ll have jam to last throughout the year and share with family and friends. These jars make lovely presents too.
Here are some videos you might find helpful for determining what your strawberries should look like each step of the way in the cooking phase: