My parents and a couple of their friends had a huge garden back when I was a kid. They all canned, froze, or pickled what they could from the garden, and even though then I didn't enjoy some of my jobs related to preserving the food, I miss them now.
One thing my mother didn't make was jam or jelly, though. She did try a small batch of grape jelly once. It took her all day, and she was displeased with how it came out in the end. I think the term "wallpaper paste" was used more than once.
So last year when I decided to do a small run of damson plum jam and peach jam, I wasn't exactly sure where to start. Fortunately with the help of Ball and the internet, both came out quite well. I'm hording the damson plum jam, and a jar gets opened once every 3 months or so because it's that good. Hopefully the damson plum season will be plentiful this year so I can make a large batch of jam instead.
Strawberry season, while a few weeks late, is in full swing here, though, and I was anxious to try my hand at strawberry jam this year. Last Saturday I asked "my farmer" at the farmers market to hold me some strawberries. Ten pounds of strawberries seemed like a lot as
Once hulled, rinsed and ready to turn into jam, I knew I wanted something other than a tooth achingly sweet sugar filled jam. The internet to the rescue again! I found a lovely strawberry balsamic jam recipe at Call Me PMC. I've made a few of Paula's recipes before and they've always turned out great, so I trusted this one too. You should read her story of canning with her mom. It sounds just like my summers.
Of course I had to adapt and fiddle with the recipe. I always do. I tried Paula's method of filling the jars while the jam and the jars were hot, hot, hot to avoid having to process them. Perhaps I wasn't patient enough, but only about half of mine "popped." So I processed what didn't "pop." My mother insists that anything canned should sit for at least two weeks before opening. While I generally follow that rule, I did not this time around. I already have my first jar of jam opened and partially eaten! Sorry, Mom!
Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Inspired by Call Me PMC
4 quarts strawberries, hulled and rinsed
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons unsweetened fruit pectin
9 half pint (8 ounce) canning jars with lids
Place jars and lids in a large enamel coated pot, fill with water until the jars are covered by about an inch of water. Bring to a steady boil for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile pour 4 quarts of strawberries into a large pot and set over medium heat. Mash strawberries, releasing their juices. Stir in sugar and fruit pectin. As the fruit is heated, continue mashing the berries into a pulp. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.
At this point, there will be lots of foam on the top. Conventional wisdom says to skim off the foam, but I simply stirred the foam back into the strawberries. You can go either way.
Stir in balsamic vinegar.
Keeping the strawberry mixture at a low simmer, remove one lid, ring, and jar from the boiling water at a time. Fill each jar with the strawberry mixture, leaving a half inch head space. Wipe any spills or drips off the jar mouth. Immediately screw place lid and screw on ring.
Once all jars are filled and sealed, place any jars that have not popped into the boiling water. Process by boiling for 20 minutes. Remove jars from water, placing on kitchen towels.
After 30-60 minutes all the lids should have popped, indicating they have sealed well. If any jars don't seal, they can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.