May 27, 2011

This Year's Strawberry Jam

I approached my strawberry jam making a little differently this year. In the past I've always had to purchase strawberries, but this year we had our own. In spite of being transplanted early in the spring, they made a good showing of berries, for which I was grateful.

I was concerned however, because no one picking ever yielded enough for a batch of strawberry jam. I use the low sugar recipe on the no sugar pectin box. This calls for 4 cups of mashed berries and one cup of white grape juice (I use 5 cups mashed berries). It yields 6 or so half-pints. We eat so much strawberry jam however, that I usually put it up in pints, making at least two batches back to back to get a canner load. That meant I would need 10 cups of mashed berries per canning session. My individual pickings didn't come close to that, (of course we were eating our fill), so I decided to freeze them to save up enough for jam. Ordinarily I wouldn't be too keen on making jam from frozen berries, but it was either that or having to buy them. I'd rather make them from our own.

I let all the frozen berries defrost the other day, and not only did I have enough for a canner load of pints,  but I had 4 cups of strawberries leftover, just one cup shy of a third batch. In the past, six pints of jam wouldn't be enough to last the year, but last summer I canned blueberry jam for the first time. DH declared this equal to his beloved strawberry, so we've been alternating between the two. In fact, I still have a few jars left from last year. This year's on top of that ought to be plenty, especially if I can more blueberry jam.

Speaking of blueberry jam, now I'm wondering if perhaps I should make it from last year's frozen blueberries. We've been enjoying them in muffins and pancakes, so I'll have to count and see how many quarts I have left. There should be enough for a couple batches of jam. Then I'll freeze a fresh batch from this year's pickings, plus make more pie filling.

How did the jam turn out? I think it's the best I've ever made. Maybe I'm saying that because the berries were ours, or maybe our berries are that much better! Who knows. Either way, you'd never know it was made from frozen berries. :)


Sherri B. said...

So nice that you could get enough from your own berries...Everything always tastes better when from your own dirt, doesn't it?!

Mama Pea said...

I know of a couple of gals who always freeze their summer harvest of fruit to make jam in the winter when they have more time for such endeavors. Your jam looks luscious and, of course, it tastes better than that made from berries you had to purchase! Self-sufficiency . . . another step in the right direction!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I won't eat any strawberries other than my own so by the time they are ripe I am starving for a fresh berry. Needless to say, I never am able to make a strawberry recipe because none ever survive the trip from the patch into the house. They all end up in my belly:)

DebbieB said...

That looks fantastic! Nothing better than fresh homemade jam.

I have flower pictures for you now:

bspinner said...

The strawberries are beautiful!!! I am so jealous. Everytime I made any kind of jam I've had to buy the fruit. Doesn't strawberry jam taste good over ice cream? Love it!

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

Want some! They look terrifically delicious.

Renee Nefe said...

jam from your own picked fruit is always the best. :D

Tami said...

I made my first batch of strawberry jam this year. Ain't no stopping me now! I never thought of blueberry! I have some frozen from last year. I also hope to make some peach, cherry and apricot once they come in season. Yum

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how much the produce from your land has decreased the amounts you need to purchase? What you are doing is what I want to get to when the time is right for my family.

Leigh said...

Sherri, this is the first time I've grown strawberries, and the first time to make our own, homegrown strawberry jam!

Mama Pea, that's an excellent idea. I admit that sometimes last winter I was looking for excuses to cook and warm up the kitchen!

Jane, LOL. You just need to plant more strawberries. :)

Debbie, I couldn't agree more!

Barb, my dad loves it over ice cream. I can't talk Dan into trying that because he wants to save it all for toast!

BMT, come on by!

Renee, agreed!

Tami, congratulations! Isn't it fun? Oh what a feeling to have those jars of homemade goodness.

Anonymous, very good question. I no longer purchase vegetables (including tomato sauce), eggs, or milk. Oh, except onions and garlic. I'm still working on getting enough of those (we use a lot). Hopefully I will start making our own cheese and butter soon. We have quite a bit of our own fruit, but I buy apples for Dan to take in his lunchbox. Mostly we're buying our meats, grains (whole grains, cereal & some flours), cheese, and fats/oils for cooking. The meats (I try to stick with grass fed) and fats (palm shortening, coconut oil, & olive oil) are of course some of the more expensive food items, but even so I'm spending a whole lot less of food. I do purchase chicken and goat feed from the grocery budget, but I think the trade off more than worth it.

I hope your time is right soon. Not only is it rewarding, but there is a wonderful sense of well being that accompanies the homesteading lifestyle.

Leigh said...

Oh! I still purchase sweeteners: sugar, honey, and molasses.

BrokenRoadFarm said...

I have to stop reading your blog before I eat breakfast...your photos look so yummy!!!

Now, off to try to find something for any left over?!

Kosel Family said...

How does your low sugar jam turn out in terms of consistency? I made some recently with some frozen home grown raspberries and it looks all water. I did notice you use a cup more of fruit than the recipe though. Any tips? I ended up making the next two batches with just 2 cups of sugar and it turned out great.

Leigh said...

BRF, blog hopping before breakfast must be done at one's own risk! LOL

CeAnne, good question. This batch is very thick, almost solid, as in, I can turn the jar upside-down and nothing comes out. I do have runny batches of jam from time to time, and always assumed it had to do with the pectin. We just use these as fruit syrup. The pectin I use is usually Ball's. I know a lot of folks like Pomona's, but I find it too expensive for all the jams and jellies I put up.

In regards to amount of fruit, I follow the direction with the pectin, but if it calls for additional water or juice, I replace that with fruit! Always works well and the product is less watered down (IMO).

I think there is an art to jam and jelly making, but I can't say I have it mastered. Your raspberry sounds good though so I will definitely have to try that!

Tina T-P said...

Wow, I can't believe you have strawberries already - we normally don't even see any local berries until the end of June - and this year, I'm sure they will be late because it's been so cold. Good job - looks like yummy jam! T.

Leigh said...

Tina, I love having early strawberries. The only problem is that when we're through, I have to watch everyone else enjoying theirs! LOL