Sunday, June 27, 2010
I grew up in a house where the canning kettle came out every summer. I have fond memories of Mom's canned cherries, peaches, pears and, yes, even prunes, which honestly were my favorite. I enjoy canning myself, and have put up an assortment of jams, jellies, and fruit over the years. Just fruits, though - I've never ventured into the wild world of pressure canning (mainly because the price of pressure canners makes me choke a little).
My husband and I used to can apple pie filling every year, until we found out that, actually, our apple pie filling recipe wasn't safe for canning. Oops, and thank you God for making sure we didn't get botulism! It's been a few years since I've stood over the kettle, though, and this year I was itching to get back to it.
Saturday my daughter and I ventured out to the farmer's market (I'm trying to go at least twice a month this season), and I picked up a half-flat of strawberries while we were there. I got them home, and the fun began!
Usually, jam requires a phenomenal amount of sugar. Something like a 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio - it's truly ridiculous. So this year I decided to try out a low-sugar recipe. I picked up some "no sugar needed" pectin (I used the Ball brand, but I know there are others out there) and some fruit juice and decided to give it a whirl. It calls for apple juice and up to three cups of sugar, but also provides instructions for using artificial sweeteners or honey. I stuck with the sugar because I can't stand artificial sweeteners, and I thought our honey would have too strong a flavor and overpower the strawberries.
I had forgotten how simple it is, really to make jam. Wash and crush the berries, add a cup of juice (I used apple-berry blend), stir in the pectin, and boil it for a while. Add the sugar (I used two and a half cups, about half of a normal recipe, but I could have gotten away with even less), boil some more, jar and process. Easy as pie.
And, from a half-flat of strawberries, we got a dozen half-pints of gorgeous (in color and flavor) jam, plus an extra pint to put in the fridge for now (because I didn't get enough jars out of the attic and didn't want to go get more, LOL!). It's like summer in a jar. Delicious!