ONCE YOU GO FRESH, YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK!

Jelly, jams, pickles, fresh pickles, and spaghetti sauce is only the beginning.   Canning jelly in the summer is a family tradition.   In my family nothing says Saturday morning besides doing chores like moms freshly made pancakes. The one secret ingredient that makes her pancakes so great is the homemade strawberry jelly that goes on top. Nothing is quite like it.  You can’t compare the taste of homemade jelly to any store bought brand. When one jar runs low mom tells me to go downstairs and get a new one, and count how many are left. We would never want to get into a situation where we run out our jelly. So when mom knows we are getting low she starts saying were going to have to go picking, and she says that all the time until its really time to go.

Strawberry Patch

photo credit: http://craftingcountry.blogspot.com/

It takes some convincing to get a young family to a friend’s farm where we pick the strawberries, but mom always reminds us about how good the fresh strawberries will taste while we collect our strawberries. When the day comes to go picking mom and dad would get us all up early in the morning, we want to be the first on the farm to get the good berries and beat the heat. It seemed to last forever, we pick and pick, but if you were to ask mom she would say us kids were doing more eating than picking.  Mom asked us to raise our buckets to see how many strawberries we had collected, not enough to her expectations of course! After we had enough to put up the jelly, it was time to go time!  We weighed them and took them home to get down to the real business.

skimfoam - Strawberry Jelly

photo credit: http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm

Once we were home and it was straight to washing. Filling buckets and sinks full of fresh strawberries, cleaning them, cutting the tops off, and of course eating as many as you can when mom and dad weren’t looking. Next, mom started to do most the work, blending the strawberries, cooking them down and making it into jelly. The best part is during this time in the process, the foam that was at the top, it was basically strawberry sugar but it tasted amazingly delicious. Mom would only let us have a little portion, but when she did it was heavenly. Shortly after it was time for the canning, cooling, and storing it for the rest of the years use.

Strawberry Jelly

photo credit: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/08/strawberry-jam-part-ii/

It is a family experience from beginning to end. We also made extra to give out to other family and friends.  Seeing their faces after sharing our delicious homemade jelly.  Learning the aspects of canning in a magnificent for young children to grow up participating in.  I wouldn’t trade the family memories that I will continue to make and have from the many years of our strawberry jelly!

Ree Drummond, also known “The Pioneer Woman”, has an amazingly easy strawberry jam recipe that walks you through step by step!  You can also find a more detailed recipes complete with in depth photos here.

Simple Strawberry Jam

5 cups hulled mashed strawberries

7 cups sugar

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 49g package powdered fruit pectin

1. Place 8 or 9 8-ounce mason jars in a large hot water bath canner (or pot). Cover with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Simmer center lids in separate saucepan full of water.

3. Place mashed strawberries and lemon juice in a separate pot. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring strawberries to a strong boil.

4. Add sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), then return mixture to a full (violent) boil that can’t be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds.

5. Skim foam off the top.

6. Remove one jar at a time from the simmering water. Pour water back into the pot. Using a wide-mouth funnel, fill each jar with jam, being careful to keep the liquid/fruit ratio consistent. Fill jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top.

7. Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles.

8. Wipe rim of jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.

9. Remove center lid from simmering water and position it on top.

10. Put screw bands on jars, but do not overtighten!

11. Repeat with all jars, then place jars on canning rack and lower into the water.

12. Place lid on canner, then bring water to a full boil. Boil hard for 10 to 12 minutes.

13. Turn off heat and allow jars to remain in hot water for an addition five minutes.

14. Remove jars from water using a jar lifter, and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

15. After 24 hours, remove screw bands and check the seal of the jars. Center lids should have no give whatsoever. If any seals are compromised, store those jars in the fridge.

Otherwise, fill your pantry with your newly canned goodness.

Enjoy!

jenna sudethJenna Sudeth
University of Illinois student

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