Strawberry Jam

I did it. Finally. The decision was occupying way to much of my mind. Everything I thought about led to the argument, do I wait for assistance, or do I do it now. I finally just did it and I'm glad.

I canned.

I wanted to get the first time out of the way with no one watching. I had the house to myself and the weather was cool. The neighbors dog, also home alone, was invited for his unending optimism when allowed in the kitchen. He was a good counterbalance to my first time shakiness.

Equipped with a flat of organic strawberries I read at least two dozen recipes for strawberry jam. Strawberries with rhubarb, with sugar, with pectin, without pectin. Strawberry conserves, preserves, lots of serves. I read to figure out if I would kill us if I went sugarless, without a paraffin top or pectin. My mind catapulted between mouthwatering buttered toast and jam to possible bacterial poisoning.

I'm not exact at following recipes so the fact that I didn't find reports of persons succumbing to sugarless strawberry jam was important. I did follow the important guidelines: the long boiling bath, clean rims, the sterile lids. I washed my hands until they too were pink, counted each of the lids popping out loud to the dog. But the recipe - I made it my own.

In the end I did use sugar, organic fair trade cane sugar instead of, I don't know, unorganic, unfair trade sugar. The box was plainly labeled cane sugar but when I opened it, it was brown. I used it anyway.

"What's that taste," the cute guy asked when I gave him the last taste saved from the pot.

"Strawberries," I tried.

"Brown sugar?"

"Cane sugar," I corrected.

"It tastes like brown sugar."

He was right. Next time I would cut the sugar in half.

I minced fresh ginger instead of the diced candied ginger called for and I used frozen lemon juice I'd squeezed earlier this year instead of a fresh lemon.

Honestly, I couldn't taste either of these ingredients.

The jam is to rest for 48 hours. Then I'll open one of the eight jars and have an official taste.

The dog however, he thought the jam was perfect; beginners batch or not. I'll invite him again but next time I'll add toast with the strawberry jam.


Lucy said...

Sharing the task with your neighbours dog, the scent of fresh grated ginger, hands washed to pinkness...what fun! Glad you enjoyed the process.

Updates, please.

An optimistic friend in the form of a doggy companion is, I think, one of the greatest pleasures life can offer!

valereee said...

Too funny! I canned strawberry preserves today, too!

Chile said...

"First-time shakiness" - oh, I can so totally relate to that feeling! I was sooo nervous last summer when I started canning. The more you do, the easier it gets. Have fun!

Theresa said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I've only been brave enough to try freezer jam and freezer marmalade so far, so you've given me hope that I can step up to real canning too!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, good for you! Isn't seeing a line of homemade, canned jam one of the most beautiful sights in the world?

Kale for Sale said...

lucy - They are optimistic aren't they. And this particular dog was interested in everything I had to say. Yeah, I miss having my own dog.

valeree - You are now officially a part of the story of the jam!

chile - So the more you can the less you think about botulism? I was seriously obcessive about spotlessness. Well, except for the dog in the kitchen. I'm already planning the next batch. Apricot.

theresa - Now I'm inspired because I've been completely intimidated by marmalade, even after Melinda's at Elements in Time detailed recipe for it, and I've always wanted to make it. Freezer marmalade might be easier? I love easy.

kendra - I carried the jars around the house photographing them and thinking this is ridiculous but it was fun too. Thanks.

valereee said...

Re: freezer jams. My folks made both traditionally-canned strawberry jam and freezer jam, and the traditionally-canned was by far the superior. I'm not a huge jam-eater myself so when I do eat it, I want the good stuff, and I began refusing the freezer jam when I was about 17 and first started thinking about things like "are these calories worth it?" :D

Chile said...

Not quite. It's not that you think about it less. It's more along the lines of not being shaky and scared, wondering if you're going to kill off your family when they open the next jar. :)

I guess it can be chalked up to gaining confidence. Being diligent about cleanliness and correct process needs to continue, though!

Theresa said...

Kale, the marmalade was totally easy - just citrus fruit, sugar and a blender, with lots of boiling. It turned out a bit thin but that's because I didn't know to save some seeds and put them in some cheescloth to boil along with the marmalade - Chile clued me in later that that's where the pectin is. Very delicious and easy!

valereee said...

Theresa/Chile, oooh, great tip on the seeds! I'm making note of that one!

Donna said...

It sounds like a lot of fun making up your own recipes, but be careful. I've heard that the amount of sugar and the acidity are really important and the acidity is tied to the length of time you boil it.

valereee said...

So, 48 hours already! Where's the tasting report?

Anonymous said...

What a great post! Nothing better than being in the kitchen, cooking with the dog. Looking forward to the sequel.

Kale for Sale said...

valereee - That calorie question is still there for me!

chile - Thanks. Diligent is my middle name.

theresa - That does sound easy. And don't you love that Chile knows all these things!

donna - I'm going to call the safe canning doctor and see what she has to say. I read in a few places that it was fine to use no sugar but then like you I saw where the importance of the recipe was tantamount. Both are likely true which makes me crazy.

valeree - Jam report is posted! Now I'm going to go and read yours.

audrey - I'm going to have to get my own dog.

Kale for Sale said...

Added Note - Valereee at Cincinatti Locavore has a juicy write up on the strawberry jam without pectin that she made. If you are the least bit inclined to make it check out her tips.

Jenn said...

Jelly and jam actually don't need a long hot water bath. Wash the jars in super hot water, rinse and put on a cookie tray in the oven at 150 (or, heck, 250 if you're paranoid).

What you're putting into the jars is so much hotter than the hot water bath or the jars that it will seal them just fine.

I read about this in an interview with June Taylor in San Francisco Magazine a while back and it works like a charm. She does classes on making jams and jellies, too!