It's a tradition in our family to make strawbarry preserves. I am from the South so we call it jam. For me, this day is about the time together driving down Highway 1 and stopping at our favorite haunts. I thought my teens would be difficult to rouse for our adventure, however, the nostaligia of our end-of-summer adventure and the promise of jars of jam in the refrigerator had them promptly in the car, turning off the pop radio station, opting for the Beach Boys. It was a blustery Northern California Summer day but we found a bit of sun on the fields at Swanton Berry Farm and shelter from the wind at Pie Ranch, complete with a picnic including fresh goat cheese from Harley Farms and goodies we brought from Bi-Rite Market. The lattace-topped peach pie from Pie Ranch made it home for a dinner gathering that night. Every year we continue this practice, the more I cherrish it and hold on to this precious time with family and the precious time of the season.
See below for my go-to, pectin-free strawberry jam recipe
Notice the Millie | Lottie tote is never far away....carrying a picnic and extra layers down and a lovely lattace-topped peach pie back to SF.
My reference book of choice when making jam is The River Cottage Preserve Handbook by Pam Corbin. I was lucky enough to pick this copy up at Omnivore Books when Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall was in town signing copies of his book River Cottage Veg, which I adore. In his introduction, Hugh says it well, " Mostly, I love them (preserves) for being so delicious. But I also cherish and admire them for something else. They epitomize the values at the heart of a well-run, contented kitchen...they embody and thrive on seasonal abundance.....)
Here's How I got my jars of strawberry jam:
Recipe calls for 2.5 lbs of stawberries, washed halved and quartered, I had less.
Stir around 8oz of fruit with 1 cup of sugar.
Crush with a potato masher. Place the mash on gentle heat and warm up the fruit.
Add rest of the berries.Bring to a gentle simmer, stiring occationally. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar. When sugar disolves, add the lemon juice. Increase heat and let boil for 8 - 9 minutes. Remove from heat and stir any scummy surface into the mixture.
Place pots in jars, clean off the rims. You will want to seal the jars as quickly as possible so as to prevent oxygen/bacteria from entering the jars. It is best to use new lids but if you feel the old lids are undamaged, that is perfectly okay. Make certain the rubber seal is warmed up a bit, place on jar, not too firmly so there is need room for air to escape. Place filled jars in to boiling water, making sure the water covers the lids. Boil for 10 minutes.
As the jars cool on a rack on the counter, you should hear the ping of the lids as they seal. I give a good tightening to the lids before I place them in the refrigerator.
Note: As you can see here I quite hastily made this batch of jam as I had dinner guests the night before and plans the following morning. I just assembled whatever small jars I had available.
There was a little leftover jam that did not fit in the jars, so we had to test it out. This is the real color, of the jam....electric and spectacular.
Makes between 5-8 jars
2 1/2 lbs of strawbrerries, hulled, and large ones halved, possilbly quartered
2 1/2 cups of granulated suger (divided)
2/3 cup of lemon juice
Place 8 oz of berries i a preserivng pan with 1 cup of sugar. Crush with a potato masher. Warm the mixture over gentle heat, add the rest of the fruit. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring the bottom occationally. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. When the mixture reaches a full boil, let boil rapidly for 8 - 9 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in scummy residue on the top. Pot and seal (see above) Use within a year.
We like to bring out a jar on Christmas morning for the brunch table.