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Jam Session

Posted on Apr 30, 2013 in Kitchen Adventures, The Homestead

For the greater part of a decade now my mom and I have made a yearly tradition of jam sessions.  We’ve become a decently well-oiled machine when it comes to strawberry, olallieberry, and peach preserves.

I know there are a number of methods out there…but here’s the one we follow to a T.

What you need for one batch:
– 8 canning jars (8oz) and lids
– 7 cups of sugar (I know, right?!) – tip: count out loud and have your buddy repeat, nothing like re-measuring when you’re not sure if it’s really your 6th cup…
– 2lbs of strawberries (4 cups after they have been pureed in a blender – with some small chunks)
– 1 tsp butter
– 1 package Certo (the thing that makes it all congeal)

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We start by washing the jars and their screw tops in the dishwasher (possibly overkill, but that’s what we do).  Then we put them in the ginormous pot with a can-rack inside to keep them from jostling around, cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 min.

The lids (round part) are put in boiling water and then set aside for when we need them.

In the meantime, we wash, de-stem and puree the strawberries until there are 4 cups, putting them in another big pot along with the sugar and the butter (keeps the foam down?) on the stove at high heat.  From this point on one of us is stirring this mix constantly.  Once the strawberry mixture comes to a full boil that doesn’t subside with stirring, we add 1 package of Certo.  When the mix comes to a full boil again we set the timer for exactly 1 min.

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All the parts are brought to the same surface and we move quickly to ladle jam mixture into each of the cans, screw on the lids, and then put the cans upside down.  Each can needs to be upside down for 5 minutes and then turned right side up again.  We fill jars at about 1-2 minute pace, so I set the timer for 5 minutes with the first can and then keep resetting it for 90 sec. for each can after that first one.  If you leave them upside down too long there will be an empty space at the bottom of the jar and the jam will be all solidified at the top.  I think the purpose of turning them upside down has to do with making the seal secure or something.  All I know is that when you do it right the cans will seal and be kept good for a year after you make jam (I’ve even eaten long after that and lived to tell of it – gasp!).  AND, you’ll know you’re doing right when you hear “pop” and “pop” and “pop” starting up within the next half hour – indicating that the lids are suctioned down.  We leave the jam-babies alone for 24 hours and then put them in the cupboard for our peanut butter and toast pleasure – or, at least in my mom’s case, to give to friends and neighbors at Christmastime (I happen to be a little bit of a jam hoarder and not many jars leave our house).

Today we made 3 batches, each taking roughly 45 minutes start to finish.  We used almost an entire Costco bag of sugar (10lbs), 1.5 large clam-shells of strawberries, and the kids read about 9 billion books with Grandpa and Auntie Jessie.  I had 8 jars of jam from last year leftover that I saved, so I only had to buy new lids for that batch.2013_0418

 

A little bit of post-jam fun outdoors with Auntie Jessie and Lady.

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