Strawberry jam, that is. Two batches. My first exploits in canning.
Pretty, no? I just love these new-fangled Ball jars ("Collection Elite Platium") I found at the local OSH. So pretty. Made me almost as happy as the jam inside.
I received an email from my old CSA regarding an overabundance of strawberries, and scored a gorgeous flat of organic fruit at their roadside stand in Watsonville for $22. Sweet. Notice the missing berries -- right within preschooler reach from the counter,...
I used a basic no-pectin recipe for both batches -- one straight strawberry with a splash of lemon juice, the second a no-sugar recipe with the addition of apples and grape juice concentrate. The straight strawberry is really nice -- very strawberry fresh tasting, while the no-sugar is tangier from the apples and less sweet. I'm not sure which one I prefer, though I tested both thoroughly last night slathered on slices of no-knead bread (the quicker version). Tasty.
Jam is pretty easy. A great foray into home canning. Mash the fruit, add a few ingredients, cook about 20-30 minutes, jar, and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.
In terms of tools, I already had heavy pots for cooking and processing, but bought a jar lifter and a funnel. The jar lifter was key, as I'm not sure how else you'd get hot jars in and out of boiling water without scalding yourself. The funnel I didn't really use for these batches since the mouth of the jars are so wide and the jars are only half-pints, though I could see a funnel really handy with larger pint and quart jars. I didn't have a rack for water processing, so made my own from a few bamboo chopsticks and kitchen twine. I also used chopsticks to fish the lids out of their pan of hot water, which worked fine, but a little magnetic jar lifter (which they were out of at the store) would probably have been easier.
And I went lo-tech on the labeling. I hit two office supply stores today looking for 2.5" round Avery stickers, but totally struck out. So I ended up laying them out in Word, printing them on construction paper, cutting them out by hand, and then glue sticking them on the lids.
Here are both recipes, adapted/adopted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Basic Strawberry Jam (makes ~8 half-pints)
8 cups mashed strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar
No-sugar Strawberry Jam (makes ~8 half-pints)
12 cups hulled, halved strawberries
5 tart apples (like Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced
2 12-ounce cans of frozen concentrated grape juice (I used white to preserve the strawberry color)