This stuff is delicious, but of course it is because it has a lot of sugar in it. Well sometimes, I guess we just have to have some sugar 🙂
My first few jams that I have made so far this summer I have been concentrating on doing either low or no sugar recipes because I have been transitioning all of our food into low or no sugar foods over the past year.
Well, I felt like I just wanted to make a classic sugary jam with no pectin and I had a bunch of strawberries sitting in my fridge – so I got to it!
I used the Classic Strawberry Jam recipe from my “Put Em Up” Canning Book!
First step was to put 8 cups of hulled strawberries with 2 cups or sugar and let sit overnight! My strawberries are from the strawberry stand off of Hwy 99 and Meridian – they are local and use organic and sustainable farming practices – Yay! And since I was going to use sugar I did use Organic sugar, was tempted to try it with Rapadura, but wasn’t sure how it would work so tried this time with regular sugar, next time I’ll do a little experimenting 🙂
Now I put all of the strawberries in my saucepan and started stirring every so often and mashing along the way until it came to a boil!
*Note – I already had my pot for jars almost to a boil and my hot water bath pot turned on and heating up. Must always get these ready or you will have your food ready to ladle in hot jars and process – but no jars or boiling water to do it 🙂
Once the berries came to a boil I added the lemon juice. Now is the tricky (or not so much) part. Since I am not using pectin in this classic recipe the strawberries need to boil until they reach the gel point.
What the heck does that mean??
Apparently there are several ways to test this (this was all new to me!)
The gel point should be approximately 220 degrees
The boil will change from a quick boil with little bubbles to a lazy boil with bigger bubbles
The freeze test – put a plate in the freezer ahead of time and when ready to test drop a bit on the plate, then move it with your finger. If it is runny it’s not ready yet, if it wrinkles it is….
There was another way to tell to, but I forget what it was….
The berries has been boiling awhile but I didn’t think they were quite ready. I don’t have a candy thermometer because my last one got ruined somehow, I’ve never been good with them. But I remember reading a Hip Girl trick just last week about using a meat thermometer and figured I would give it a try!
It only went up to about 170 before my hand got too hot to hold it, will use a hot pad next time (or get a clothespin like in the Hip Trick!) But regardless, I could tell I had a ways to go!!
I was able to get all of this done while sweet BooBoo napped (she is still such a wonderful napper at 18 months I am so lucky). And awesome Bizz has been getting really inventive in building and playing on his own a lot lately – this is what he was doing for a good while during my jam making!
Okay – time to check the jam again! I had placed a plate in the freezer earlier. The first time I did the freezer plate test (when I also checked the temp) it was definetly runny (pic on left), the next time it looked like the jam was ready to me (pic on right!)
Jars are ready to ladle the jam into (I need to get a better ladle by the way! Don’t want to waste a precious drop of jam in between the saucepan and jars when all this love and elbow grease goes into it!). It looks and smells so good. I wish I could take a “smell” of it and post it on here like I do a picture!
Mmmm.. delicious! I better get some more strawberries and make more, this is gonna go fast! Next time I am going to try the vanilla bean variation – I bet the smell will be absolutely divine then!
BooBoo woke up just in time… now I’m going to go play….