Is there anything better than a 3 day holiday weekend? After a 4 week stretch of lots and lots of work and attempting to keep up with my marathon training, this 3 day 4th of July weekend was most welcome. My laundry is done, my apartment is clean, long bike rides were taken and baked beans, potato salad, cherry sorbet, and hot dogs were consumed.
And I will tell you about those baked beans and my mom’s potato salad soon, but first I need to talk about Strawberry Jam. I managed to make this jam a few Saturdays ago after a long run followed, unfortunately, by 5 hours of work. The peak strawberry season in the Midwest was painfully short this year because it’s been hotter and wetter than normal… but the best way to make it last and last is to make a batch of jam! The recipe I used doesn’t require any added pectin, so it really is a great reflection of wonderfully ripe local strawberries.
If you are lucky enough to still have local strawberries in your area, make a batch of this goodness, but if not, save this recipe for when we are lucky enough to have them in our local markets next year.
Direct headnotes: “By preparing preserves in small batches, the jam will cook quickly enough that the fruit retains its fresh taste. This recipe works best by weight but if you don’t have a scale (I still don’t), use equal amounts strawberries and sugar.”
Makes approx. 5 8-ounce jars
2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
2 pounds sugar (about 4 cups)
Juice of 1 lemon or orange
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large pot and heat slowly until the juices are clear, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon (or orange) juice, then cover loosely and let stand overnight.
The next day, get everything ready for canning. Stick a small plate in the freezer (I’ll explain later), bring a large pot of water to boil, and sterilize 5 jars and lids. Turn off the heat, but leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you’re ready to use them.
Heat 2 cups of strawberries and juice in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the strawberries start to simmer, cook, stirring often, until they pass the preserves test (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes). I like to use the Plate Test: the jam is ready when you pour a drop on the chilled plate and it doesn’t run when you tilt it.
Ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the rims. Cover each jam with a new lid and fasten the ring tight. Process the jars for 15 minutes using the boiling water method. Remove jars to the kitchen towel-covered counter. Once cool, test the lids for a good seal and if any didn’t seal, stick them in the fridge to enjoy in your yogurt earlier than planned.
If you are new to canning, I really recommend buying a copy of the Ball Blue Book and reading up on everything. It helped me feel much more comfortable with the process.