Strawberry Jam

It’s almost the end of this year’s strawberry season in northern California. The strawberries that I bought from Mariquita Farm’s Ladybug Buying Club come from Sea Level Farm near Santa Cruz. These berries are so sweet and fragrant. I sliced up a pint for the fridge, froze one quart and made eighteen half pints of delicious jam with the rest.

This recipe was inspired by Chef Greg Atkinson’s Organic Strawberry Jam recipe from the Canning Across America website. Some recipes (including Greg’s) call for 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar but I used a 2:1 fruit to sugar ratio and the result is excellent. I also used all organic ingredients.

STRAWBERRY JAM
(Yields 18 half pint jars)

14 cups strawberries (stems removed and sliced)
1 cup lemon juice
4 pounds cane sugar

Wash jars without lids in dishwasher or soapy hot water and rinse thoroughly. If using a dishwasher, choose the sanitation rinse and hot dry options. Leave jars in dishwasher until ready to use.

In a clean 4-quart stockpot, mash berries and lemon juice together with a potato masher. Add sugar and stir over medium high heat with a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally until fruit has come to a full, rolling boil and continue stirring until mixture returns to a boil, then stop stirring and insert a candy thermometer.  When the thermometer registers 220F degrees, remove jam from the stove and set aside.

With rubberized tongs, lift sterilized jars and arrange them right side up on a clean kitchen towel.  Transfer jam to sterilized jars, seal according to canning jar and lid manufacturers instructions, and then return jam-filled jars to the boiling water and boil. My jars sealed at 180F for 10 minutes. Lift jars out of the hot water bath with rubber tongs again, and then allow jars to cool undisturbed for several hours or overnight. Sealed jam jars keep for one year.

If any of the jars do not seal, just let them cool and then place in the refrigerator for immediate enjoyment.

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I added a tablespoon of culinary lavender to the berries while boiling which gave the jam a faint floral flavor, but not enough to detect it, so I omitted it from the ingredient list. If you are inclined to play with this recipe, fresh herbs such as rosemary and lavender or spices like star anise or vanilla might work. Gradually add these to your mash mixture and use a tasting spoon to check the flavor as you go to prevent you from going overboard.

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Enjoy the jam on ice cream, yogurt, toast or anything else you want to add some strawberry sweetness.

My canner will be used again this summer as I’d like to make dill pickles and jalapeno slices and maybe some pickled beets.

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