Day one of our Summer Produce Series is “filled to the brim” with fruits! Or within ¼ inch of the brim, actually. 😀 Last week we went to visit both of our families for a week; half with each family. While we were at the Gerszewski’s place, we picked pounds and pounds of strawberries and we also jammed some cherries from their early summer crop. Dave’s family has their own farm up in the mountains. They have an abundant variety and thanks to his dad and youngest brother, that variety is constantly growing! My in-loves are pros at processing and preserving their crops to enjoy all year. Their cherries were pitted, bagged and frozen. While frozen cherries are a pretty amazing treat all on their own, they also make a tasty jam for toast or cookies.
This is our go to jam recipe for fruits that we pull from our yard or receive from the Gerszewski side up in the sierra foothills. All in all we ended up with almost 2 gallons of jam to enjoy even when the winter weather hits.
However, this recipe makes a smaller batch which is more manageable for the average family. Feel free to make several batches if you have enough fruit.
NOTE: I had never used the oven method for sterilizing my jars before. It worked like a charm and I will definitely be using it again, since I live in a strict water district along the coast. Told you that my in-loves were pros at preserving!
4 cups strawberries (about a 2 lb. container), hulled and chopped
2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice (bottled has a consistent acid level which is preferred for shelf safety.)
3 Tbsp. classic pectin
½ cup 100% unsweetened apple juice (optional)
1 tsp. quality butter
2 cups granulated sugar
(2) pint size canning jars with rings and lids
Pop a small plate in your freezer to use for testing later. Prepare your jars and lids for canning. Wash and thoroughly rinse your 2-pint jars with hot water, DO NOT TOWEL DRY. At this point you can fill them with boiling water surrounded by boiling water in your sink OR you can use the oven method to keep them sterile. Set your oven to the warm setting, (around 200 F.) if you have it. Once the jars are washed, place them in your oven to dry and stay warm which will insure that they are sterile. Place your lids in a small saucepan of boiling water to sterilize while you make the jam.
Place the strawberries, lemon juice, pectin, apple juice (if using), and butter into a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once boiling, add in the sugar; stirring constantly.
Boil for 2-5 minutes. Spoon some of the jam onto your frozen plate to test the consistency. For thicker jam, continue boiling until the mixture stays put on the plate. For thinner jam, look for a very slow and smooth flow when tilting the plate.
When the desired consistency is reached, carefully place the warm jars on a towel being careful not to touch the rims or inside of the jars. Ladle the jam into each jar, filling to within ¼ inch of the rim. A canning or wide mouth funnel will help keep your space tidy. Run a knife around the inside of the jars to remove bubbles.
Wipe each rim with a clean, damp cloth. Place a lid on each jar and gently screw a ring onto each jar. DO NOT tighten the rim. Simply screw it on gently to hold the lid in place.
Fill a very large stock pot or canning pot with water and bring to boil. It should be large enough to cover your jars by an inch or two of water. Once boiling, carefully place each jar into the water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil your jars for 10 minutes at lower altitudes and 15-20 minutes at higher altitudes.
Lastly, carefully pull each jar out of the boiling water using canning tongs or rubber coated tongs, and place on a towel to cool. Jars will “pop” once the seal is made. Label each jam with flavor and date. Suggested shelf life is 2 years when stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.
VARIATIONS: You can easily substitute other fruit for the strawberries. We recommend plums, peaches, cherries, and apricots.
You can also combine fruits for blended versions. We especially like; Peach/Plum, Strawberry/Peach, and Cherry Vanilla (add 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract in before pouring into jars.)
We hope you have fun making some homemade jam. It’s really easy once you’re familiar with the process and opens the door to all kinds of flavors. Not to mention, jam is expensive! This recipe takes about an hour and leaves you with 2 pints of tasty goodness.