Florida strawberries are in season! Which, means that they are currently fairly cheap and VERY yummy! Publix had them on sale the other day for $1.67 a lb, so I stocked up, but then I had to come up with something to do with all those beautiful strawberries...
Well, my momma had just brought me this wonderful book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This book is amazing. I looked up strawberries and found the basic jam recipe, but if strawberries stay cheap I am going to make a couple of the others - Strawberry Kiwi Jam, Strawberry Lemon Marmalade, and Strawberry Margarita Preserves.
The recipe said it should make 8 8oz jars, well, I learned last time that I should wash a couple of extras. I am glad I did because I got 9 jars out of the batch. The only problem with this this time is that we didn't have any extra to just put into the fridge.
7 cups granulated sugar
8 cups whole strawberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 pkg pectin
I washed all the jars in hot soapy water, and then put the canner on to boil. Then I put the glass jars in the water. I kept out the metal rings and lids, but I did put the metal lids into warm water to start letting the glue soften.
Next, I started washing the strawberries under cool water. When they were all clean I cut off the tops and hulled them with a potato peeler. I know there is such a things as a strawberry huller, but I don't have one and I am not sure where to find one (I looked at Wal-Mart, Publix, and Winn-Dixie). The potato peeler worked really well though, so I will probably just stick to that. Then I put the strawberries into the food processor. The recipe said to put them into a pie pan and mash them with a potato masher, well I don't have either, so I used what I did have. The food processor worked really well!
The I dumped the strawberries, lemon juice, and pectin into a giant wok. They had to come to a boil, and then I could add the sugar. This was a really big pot of lovely smelling liquid napalm (it is VERY hot and VERY sticky, and really burns). When it had come to a solid boil that couldn't be stirred down it was timed for 1 minute.
Now it can be put into the jars. I pulled them out of the boiling water one at a time and filled them with the yumminess. Then, I put the metal lids and bands on. When all 9 jars were filled they were returned to the water bath, and boiled at a steady boil for 10 minutes. Then they were turned off and let sit for 5 minutes before I pulled the rack out of the water. (Sorry there aren't any pictures of this, but I had to work quickly, and since I was doing it by myself I was a little short handed.)
Within 5 minutes all of the jars had made that lovely popping sound that scared me last time. Now that I know what that noise is all about I am very happy to hear it.
The jam looked amazing! I love the bright red color of it. Our garage is starting to have some very pretty colored jars in it. What little bit we did get to taste (there was a tiny about left in the cook pot that AJ and I shared when he got home) was totally AMAZING! I really want to open one of the jars to keep in the fridge, but before I do that I need to make some homemade bread. It just seems like it deserves the respect of having something nice and homemade to go with it.
Also, I need some label ideas for the jars. Does anyone have any good suggestions? I am thinking of cutting circle labels for the tops out of mailer labels and decorating them. I want something that will go just on the metal lid because when the jar is empty I want to be able to refill it and not have old labels on the jars, and since the lids aren't reusable it makes sense to put the label there. Does anyone have any pretty templates for this, or would this make another good craft project?
Oh, and does anyone have suggestions on the next thing I should try to can? I am really loving the process of all of this and of course the outcomes. I am looking forward to tomatoes coming into season because I really want to make some tomato sauce!
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