Thursday, June 26, 2014

All Natural, No Sugar Strawberry Jam

I really love making jam. It's such an old-fashioned, fun thing to do, and it's surprisingly easy. I make one kind of jam or another throughout the spring, summer and fall, as different fruits come into season. I start with strawberry and strawberry rhubarb, move on to blueberry, then peach, then, in the fall apple butter. This stocks up our pantry quite nicely, so that I never have to buy jam or jelly at the store. I know it's been at least 3 years since we've bought any, which is saying something if you had any idea the huge amounts of PB&Js my kids eat.

After my last post I've had a few requests for my recipe for no-sugar-added strawberry jam. I am more than happy to share it! This recipe makes about four 8 oz jars. You can double it, but I find it comes out best if you make it in small batches. If you've never canned anything before, don't worry! It's easier than you think! Here are some canning basics, before we get started:

You will need some basic canning equipment, to get started. You'll need a big canning pot (or any very large pot, in a pinch) a jar grabber, lid wand and canning jars with lids and rings. Make sure the lids are new... NEVER reuse lids for canning, as old lids may not seal properly. You can reuse jars and rings. Before you can, wash and sterilize your jars, lids and rings (I just put mine in the dishwasher) then put them in your canning pot filled with water. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low to keep the jars warm while you make your jam.

Now, onto the jam!

All-Natural, No Sugar Strawberry Jam

4 cups of strawberries, washed and hulled
2/3 cup apple or white grape juice
Squeeze of lemon juice
3 Tbsp no sugar pectin

Dump the strawberries into a pot. I usually use a 6 quart pot, which seems big, but the jam will bubble up a lot, and a deeper pot prevents splatters. Use a potato masher to smoosh up the berries. This is a fun job for the kids. Once all the berries are smashed up well, stir in the remaining ingredients. Put over high heat and stir often until it gets to a full boil. Make sure you don't forget to stir, or it will stick and burn on the bottom. When it's really boiling really good and hard (so hard that when you stir it it's still bubbling like crazy) then check the time and let boil for one full minute. Remove from heat, and get your jars and lids out onto a towel. Next, use a funnel and a ladle to fill your jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe any jam from the rim, then put the lids on and fasten the rings. Next, put the jars of jelly into the canning pot, making sure they're covered by at least and inch of water. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove with your jar grabber and let cool, undisturbed, on a tea towel on the counter overnight.

When the jars are sealed properly, the lid should not flex when you press it. If you happen to end up with one that didn't seal, just pop it in the fridge and use it within a week or two. Properly sealed jars of jam can be kept in the pantry for up to a year.

Another cool thing... I pretty much use this same recipe for most jams I make, substituting whatever berry is in season at the time. Try it with raspberries, black berries, blueberries, or a combination.

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