Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What to DO with all these strawberries??

We have a smallish patch of strawberries in our front yard.

Where other people would put in flowers, we put in strawberries. Is that weird? I don't know, but being in a townhouse, we only have so much space. Most of the back is taken up with a vegetable garden, a monstrous rosemary plant, irises, and a peony. The strawberries were originally in just a very small part of this plot, but they quickly filled it in and we let them. We even pulled some things out to give them more room. It's not a very big plot, but those plants produce plenty of strawberries! So, what to do with all those strawberries? Why, make jam, of course!

Would you like to help? Of course you would! Let's begin. First, we wash up the jars, lids, and bands,
and put the lids in hot water until we need them.
We also put the wax on low heat to melt. DH's mom uses wax to seal the jars, in addition to the lids and bands. We have learned from personal experience that homemade treats last longer in wax sealed jars than they do in jars without wax, even though the lids and bands are SUPPOSED to seal enough. So we use wax as well. This is the "wax pot". The wax lives in this pot. It's much easier to designate a wax pot than to try to clean the thing out each time. Besides, as we open jars, we just drop the little wax circles in the pot, all ready for the next canning session.

Next we wash and hull the strawberries.

Put the strawberries straight in the Vita-Mix, ready for processing. Technically, you're not supposed to blend the fruit. You're supposed to crush it with a potato masher or other such tool. Part of the reason, according to my mom, is that blending destroys some of the natural fruit pectin. But blending is so much easier! So we blend, but not puree. So there are no chunks of strawberries in our jam (which I don't really care for anyway), but it still has seeds. (This Vita-Mix, btw, is powerful enough to blend up even the seeds! We've made fruit smoothies before that had NO SEEDS!)

The recipe says we need 6 cups of crushed strawberries. How many do we have?

Looks like we're a half cup short. Back out to the strawberry patch! (This is what's so great about growing your own stuff!!)
Yep, there are some red ones out here. Even though I picked all the ones I could find yesterday, there are red ones again today. I really should be out here every day (or every other day at the very least) picking strawberries.
I discovered yesterday that picking strawberries gives me a rash. It's not too bad and goes away fairly quickly, but it's sure uncomfortable, so I'm wearing gloves from now on.

More washing and hulling, how much goop do we have now?
Perfect! The instructions say to measure EXACT amounts, and I'd say we're doing a pretty good job!

So now we heat the crushed strawberries, add the pectin and sugar, boil the mixture, stir constantly, pour into jars, and we're done! Easy!

Okay, maybe not quite THAT easy. It goes quickly, and gets quite hot standing over the stove, so I forgot to take any pictures of the actual jam making process.

DH helped me, and we got the mixture boiled and stirred, and poured into jars without too much incident. Then DH spooned the melted wax on top, I placed the lids, he screwed on the bands, and then we left them on the counter to cool.

Aren't they beautiful? Eight little jars of strawberry-y goodness. Actually the 8th one isn't quite filled, so that's the one we got into for pbj sandwiches for lunch, then with english muffins the next morning for breakfast, and then there was something else that NEEDED jam, and that little jar is just about empty, already.

As the afternoon progressed, we heard little POPs coming from the kitchen. Such a delightful sound! (It's the lids sealing). They all sealed (well, except for the 8th one. I don't think we left it alone long enough to seal...), so they should last a good long while. I guess now it's okay to open the last one left from last year!

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1 comment:

ehart said...

Yummy! I love jam on Sunday mornings.

And you're definitely right about the wax pot.