Summer is finally here in Upstate New York and has arrived with all of it's tasty foods ripe for the picking. One my absolute favorites on this list is strawberries. We started growing strawberries next to our house last year and had a pretty decent yield, enough for snacking at least. However, I couldn't pass up going strawberry picking at one of the many local berry growers in our area. It's a blast for my little one and we can pick enough for freezing and canning so we can enjoy them all year long. So if you're looking for something to do now that school is out, don't miss the opportunity to grab some fresh picked strawberries before the season is over!
|Our home strawberry plants beginning to blossom|
|The first of our own strawberries almost ready to pick!|
|My little helper!|
After all of the picking was done, I decided to try my hand at a little strawberry jam-making. Canning does take a little bit of work, particularly in the preparation stages to make sure everything is clean and free of bacteria in order to properly preserve your food, but if you're up for the challenge (it's really not that much of a challenge) here is a great resource from the USDA for tips on safe canning practices: USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.
The jam I made was very simple, using only strawberries, sugar, pectin and calcium water (an ingredient that helps activate the pectin and included in the pectin package). Here is what I did:
Simple Strawberry Jam
8 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed and mashed
3 cups sugar
*follow package directions for proper amounts, they may vary depending on the brand. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin.
Prepare all canning materials according to proper canning procedures. If you have a sanitizing setting on your dishwasher, you can use that to prepare all of your jars, lids, and any other utensils used while preparing your jam, otherwise boil all of your materials before hand. Prepare strawberries by washing, removing stems and mashing. Add mashed fruit and calcium water into a large pot and bring to a boil. In the meantime, combine sugar and pectin powder in a large bowl and mix well. Once the fruit begins to boil, mix in the sugar/pectin mixture and stir vigorously for several minutes. Return mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Fill all sanitized jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel and place sanitized lids on. Place each jar in a large pot of water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and allow them to cool. Once they are cool, check to make sure the center of each lid is sucked down and sealed tightly. Refrigerate jam after opening and use within 3 weeks.