Monday, June 14, 2010

In a Pickle, In the Jam!

Oh my... summer is here and the fresh food is rolling in.  First up on my plate is the strawberry.  The most luscious, delicate and reddest of fruits. Can you think of a better way to enjoy them than to pick them yourself?   Thankyou Urka Farm in Traverse City.

There are a million things that you can do with strawberries, and I like to eat them fresh, first and foremost.  But, when you've tired of strawberries on your cereal, your ice cream, your smoothies and your shortcakes, and you've picked 20 lbs. and you have 18 left over and you find yourself in "quite the pickle", the obvious solution is fresh, homemade strawberry jam, withOUT packaged pectin.  Having failed previously at my attempts to make a natural pectin jam, I decided to consult the books and the blogs again, to see if I could solve my problem.  I found a wonderful discussion about Strawberry Jam without boxed pectin from MothersKitchen.  I also found a simple remedy in a book about preserved foods called Preserved written by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton.
So, I sat down on a rainy Saturday morning and came up with my own recipe.  I made the jam in the simplest way that I could.  I made a natural pectin from 5 chopped up granny smith apples combined with 1 large lemon also cut up into little pieces.  I boiled this concoction for about 15 minutes, until the fruit turned to mush. This was the technique noted in MothersKitchen.
In the mean time, i LIGHTLY boiled 16 cups of whole fruit strawberries with the juice of one large lemon.  In Preserved, the authors contend that the juice of the lemon extracts the pectin from the seeds of the strawberries. I boiled twice as many  strawberries with the juice of one lemon  for one hour (very light boil).
In the mean time, I pushed the apple and lemon pulp mixture through a sieve in order to have 2 cups of this mixture that would also serve as a pectin.  The strawberries slowly turned to mush and did not boil over into a foamy mess.
Then it was time to add the sugar.
  I try to limit my sugar intake, so even though both recipes recommended about twice as much sugar, I opted to use about half, or 7 full cups of sugar to the 16 cups of now boiled down strawberries.  I also added the apple mixture to the pot. In essence, I combined the recipe from Preserved with the recipe that I found on MothersKitchen. I boiled this new mixture for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly and slowly coaxing the mixture to rise up to 220 degrees, the magic number for the sugar to reach a setting point.  After testing my jam to see if it was ready by dropping a dollop onto a saucer, chilling it to see if I could coax a wrinkle, I was ready to jar up my jam.
Okay, I'm not an expert cook- but I managed to make some incredible jam.  Into the sterilized Ball jars they went. And my leftover pounds of berries will be gracing the insides of PB&J sandwiches and the tops of crusty pieces of toast for at least another year.

Bo Yummee!


  1. Oh my gosh I can't wait to run out, buy waaay too many strawberries and make some jam with this recipe!!!!

  2. Your jam looks delicious! I picked 5 lugs of berries from Urka Farms. Some have been jammed (for the Can Jam, of course) some have been frozen, some have been made into cordial and many have been eaten straight out of the boxes.

  3. yummy jam! my strawberry plant never bore any fruit this year..sniff...still getting the hang of it. great to meet another michigander!

  4. Thanks for the shoutout and keep blogging!