Project Pantry: Homemade Strawberry Jam

Project Pantry is something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. If I could ever stick to a New Year’s resolution, this one would be at the top of the list. The idea is that I stop buying things like pickles, jam, bread, condiments, etc. and make them all myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to work toward that goal.

With the Independence Day holiday, I found a little time to experiment with the large amount of fresh strawberries, perfectly in season for the summer. I thought about plenty of strawberry recipes – strawberry shortcakes, muffins, pie, maybe even a galette. While purusing the recipes, I noticed that several recommended strawberry jam as an ingredient. Why not make jam to use in another recipe later on? Don’t worry you’ll see the strawberry streusel coffee cake I made with them jam too.

It is important with canning and preserving to avoid contamination with bacteria. This is why you should avoid canned foods that have expanded. Botulinum toxin causes botulism poisoning when ingested- potentially very serious. Use glass jars with no chips or cracks and tight-fitting lids. Please take the time to sterilize your materials. I’ve changed the order of the instructions to prioritize this.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups hulled and quartered strawberries*
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cold, unsalted butter

*This is about 2 containers of strawberries.

Instructions:

1) Put a small plate in the freezer.

2) To sterilize, wash both the jars and lids thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Arrange the jars (lids open sides up), without touching, on a baking sheet and put them in a 175° F oven for 30 minutes.

3) Put metal lids, rubber seals, and additional equipment in a bowl, pour boiling water over them to cover and let them soak for a few minutes.

4) Combine the strawberries, sugar, salt and lemon juice in a medium, heavy saucepan. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble.

5) Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until a bit of the jam sets on the plate you’ve been keeping in the freezer (when you tip the plate, the jam should run only very slowly).

6) Turn off the heat and stir the butter into the jam.

7) Spoon the hot jam carefully into hot sterilized jars and either process the jars or seal and keep refrigerated. If refrigerating, use the jam within a week or two.

Final Thoughts: Mostly I was worried about poisoning myself. Still, I found myself immensely satisfied enjoying toast made with my very own jam. It has a very natural sweetness, unlike store-bought jams with artificial sweeteners and flavoring. If you’re up for the challenge, all it takes is strawberries and time.

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