Monday, June 9, 2014

Making Strawberry-Honey Jam

If it's June, then the junebearing strawberries are in full production mode.*  So what better time to get some of that bountiful harvest preserved before the garden really kicks in?  I can't think of any, so let's do this. 

1.  Start off with 6 pounds of strawberries, quartered.  If you let your strawberries really ripen, the jam will be smoother and sweeter, but I prefer to have a few chunks in mine, so I mix in a few underripe berries as well.  Not underripe as in white, just really firm and solid.

2.  Add 3 3/4 cups (3 pounds m/l) of honey.  Here's a place where you can experiment if you wish, as some people use a lot less honey and replace it with low-sugar pectin, fruit juice concentrate, and the like.  The more honey you add the less the result will resemble jelly. I like my jam to spread on thin.

3.  Toss in 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  Fresh-juiced lemon probably tastes the best, but I don't have any lemon trees so lemon juice from concentrate it is.  It works just fine.

This pot was not big enough.
4.  Add two apples, grated, including the skin but excluding the core.  I just grate the apples onto the top and then toss the cores into the chicken bucket; others use a blender to really smooth it out.  Some recipes demand Granny Smith apples - apparently they provide more pectin - but others aren't so fussy.  I tend to use Grannies because that's usually what I have in the house, but I really haven't noticed a difference using other apples.

5. Bring the whole thing to a rolling boil and then simmer it for about an hour.  You can go half that if you like; the jam is ready once everything is hot and mushy.  But the longer you cook it, the thicker the final product will be.  Once it's gone 30 minutes, I start the jars and whatnot. As soon as they are ready, I cut the boil. Don't forget to scrape the gunk off the top of the jam and toss it.

Mission Accomplished.
6. Slop the jam into smaller-than-quart jars leaving 1/4" - 1/8" headspace** then process it in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  I use my pressure canner and leave the lid off.  The jars don't need pressure and would not be in the water long enough to build it up anyway.

7.  Let them cool overnight then check the seals.  Any jar that doesn't seal properly needs to go in the fridge. If more than one seals improperly, you're doing it wrong.  Go back to Canning 101 before you kill somebody.

The above will probably take 2 hours max and should provide about 12 pints of strawberry-honey jam with no added sugar and no pectin.  That's about what it took me tonight even with the lovely and gracious Rogue making homemade burger rolls in the kitchen at the same time.

Strawberries aren't terribly messy, so cleanup is a breeze. And the girls really loved the still-hot jam on the fresh-baked rolls.   I'm actually lucky I had enough left for the pantry.

* Unless you're Giraffe, where June is spelled A-U-G-U-S-T.
** The chunkier it is, the more space you'll need. The smaller the jar, the less space.

5 comments:

  1. Yeah. No strawberries yet. I don't think there's blossoms yet. Seems like spring is late this year.

    My mom used to make the best strawberry rhubarb jam. Oh, I'm sorry, you can't grow rhubarb.

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  2. I'm with Giraffe, on the proper spelling of June. And, generally in all other ways, on the time distortion thing.

    Giraffe,

    Fair is fair. :p

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  3. I've been hedging up to asking. Okay, I decided to ask. Now... I don't like honey. Not raw, not in tea, not on scones, not on cornbread. There is something... to it... that irritates some sensibility... some part of my sensuous nature. Walnuts and some tomatoes are too acidic, curry... either I have a slight allergy or it is ground to fine and bugs me, or something. With honey, I just haven't identified the problem. Keep trying, once in a while... just to figure it out.

    My question is... is the honey taste pretty strong in there? I love the idea of honey. There are a lot of good properties to honey, it can even be used as goo for a poultice or simply right on a wound raw even. I just can't stomach some aspect of it, whether an allergy too, or just a taste thing, I haven't quite figured... Burns the back of my throat and tastes funny. Tried the right nearly raw stuff and the ultra-refined... all the same. No offense, mind you. Just... curious.

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  4. is the honey taste pretty strong in there?

    It's a hard question to answer...the strawberry taste is strong, the honey much less so, but you can taste it. The jam doesn't taste like it's half honey; it tastes wilder and much less sweet than strawberry-and-sugar jam. But if you don't like honey at all, I would not recommend it.

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  5. Hmm... I would have to try it. There is a threshold. I don't like it, but do tolerate it at a certain point if I like the rest of so-and-such well enough. I figured it would taste less sweet, which is why I asked. And, a bit of experimentation with pectin, fruit juice, and the like might offer the ability to trim that even so. Just had to ask, because some things made with honey don't end up with the flavor, somehow.

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