One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan. Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar. With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick. The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.” They are right. It’s a perfect addition.
5 cups “smashed” strawberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar
1 pkg fruit pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.
Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.
Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle. Gradually stir in the pectin.
Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.
Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.
Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess. I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars. After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.
We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.
NOTE: One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups. And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.