Strawberry Jam (canning instructions too)

2014's

This morning was dedicated to making our years supply of strawberry jam as well as a few for gifts and a few to sell.  I will tell you how I make it along with how I can it.  Some people think canning is so intimidating but it is actually very easy and quick.  There are only 4 MUST have tools….1) jars and lids  2) funnel 3) grippers 4) 2 large pots.  My son does not like big chunks so I crush my berries 1 cup at a time by hand so they are smaller pieces in the jam.

You should always make your own jam when the fruit is in season.  There is nothing better and it’s all natural!!

Note:  there are directions all over the internet for canning and the pectin has directions in the box also!!

To make cooked jam for canning:

5 cups crushed strawberries (wash, cut the hulls (green leaves) off, and crush in a bowl ONE cup at a time)

7 cups sugar (you can use alternative’s with no sugar pectin) We use Sure-Jel Pectin.  Always works and yes it’s a bit of sugar but you can cut back on it by adding a little extra pectin from a second box if you want and it’s so delicious you won’t care!!

Get a 1/2 full stock pot of water almost boiling

Fill your sink with the hottest water you can (you can use boiled water from microwave if need be) and keep jars, lids, and rings in it

Fill the 2nd stock pot with the 5 cups of crushed strawberries and add one box of pectin

Bring the berries/pectin to a full rolling boil stirring constantly it should boil even as you stir

Pour in the 7 cups of sugar all at once quickly

Keep stirring and bring back to rolling boil.  Boil for 1 full minute

Remove from heat and skim off any foam (light pink foam you will see).  You can leave foam but it doesn’t look pretty in the jars.  I keep the foam in a separate bowl and when finished I cover with plastic wrap and we use it as jam also keeping it in the fridge.

Remove a jar from hot water, wipe it dry and fill using the funnel and a ladle.  Fill just to the top where it meets the rim leaving 1/2 inch space to top of jar

Continue until all the jam is in the jars

(TIP:  if you have a little left over and don’t want to start a new jar put it in the foam bowl!!)

Wipe the top of the jar and around the rim where the lids screw on if it dripped at all

Dry the lids and place them on the jars and then dry the rings and tighten until just tight

Turn heat up on the water stock pot

Carefully place the jars in the water bath with the grippers making sure the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water

Bring to a slow boil and let boil for 10 minutes covered

Remove from water using grippers and place on a towel to set overnight (you will hear popping sounds when the lids seal)

After they have set overnight touch the middle of the lid to make sure it is not sticking up and has been sealed.  If it did not seal you can still use the jelly but keep it in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

When sealed you can store in a cool, dark place for 18 months

That’s it!!  Some of my tips:

1) Always make one batch at a time.  Do not try to do 2 batches at a time.

2) Clean everything in between batches so you are ready as soon as the batch comes out of the water bath

3) Jam should have fruit pieces in it.  If you want bigger pieces don’t crush as much

2nd batch

2nd batch

last year jam

This is the last jar from last years batch I just opened today to make toast for my son

ready

prepare strawberries

water batch

fill stock pot 1/ way with water

mushed 1 mushed5 cups sugar rolling boiljars hot jam funnelgrippers filled and ready to can going inboiling

 

 

Canning Cherries

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These are little bits of summer stored to help us through the cold winter.  These are bing cherries canned in a light sugar water syrup.  All natural and perfect to strain and use in yogurt, oatmeal or pour the juice and the cherries over vanilla ice cream, angel food cake, or vanilla pudding.  They are great in smoothies and right out of the jar as a snack!!  This is so easy and you can have cherries, crisp and fresh all year long this way!!  In the winter when my children bring some to school as a fruit their friends hound them for some.

Here is the way to make your Cherry Pitter (a must have and you have what you need to make it)

You DO NOT need special equipment to can.  I will post about that in another post.  As long as you have a big “spaghetti” size pot, you are good to go!!  New to canning go here or here to see directions or check youtube.
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How to make our family CANNED CHERRIES:

Fill a spaghetti pot of hot water 1/2 way, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer

In a another pot bring 6 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar to a bowl (you can reduce for less sweetness)

Choose the size jars you are going to can in, lids and rings

Sterilize them in the dishwasher or you can fill your sink with hot water when the syrup is ready and keep all hot pulling one out at a time to fill and placing back in hot water (standing up with water below rim) until ready to add all to the hot water simmering)

pit cherries and stuff them into jars (you can do as many as you like as it’s simple to make more syrup if needed) leaving 1/2 in headspace at top of jar

fill with hot syrup leaving 1/2 in headspace at top of jar

tap jar lightly on potholder to remove bubbles

place on lid and wipe jar around the top

place on right and tighten slightly (You do not have to make sure it’s super tight)

place in hot water standing up to keep them hot until putting into simmering water

once all jars are filled, place in simmering water making sure the tops are covered with 2 inches of water

bring water to a rolling boil and process for 20 minutes

remove and let cool listening for the lids to make a “popping” sound when they seal

once cool, run your fingers over the lids to make sure the  middle is “sucked” down

store in a cool, dark, dry place for a year

FREEZING CHERRIES — you can freeze cherries also which is way cheaper than buying them frozen in the store.  First wash and clean the cherries.  You can pit them or leave them whole.  Dry them and lay them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and place into freezer bags and store in freezer for up to a year.  These are great in smoothies or ice cream and you can make another cherry pie if you need to!!

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Strawberry Shortcake

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This is what happens when you leave your kids inside the house while you are working in the garden.  My kids love strawberry shortcake.  We had strawberries, Bisquick mix and cream, what better thing to do than make a nice dessert.  This was a yummy treat!!  I apologize about the blurry pictures but my son took these pictures so I could share them on my blog he said.  They were very proud of their hard work making dessert.

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Growing Potatoes

We plant and harvest potatoes every year.  Potatoes are so easy to grow and I try to convince all my friends to try it!! They are so fun to harvest as the kids love to dig for the little hidden treasures under the soil.  I keep seeing these container ideas for potatoes promising lots of potatoes so this year I think we are going to give it a try.  Due to space limitations we usually can only grow enough potatoes to last us through early spring and then I have to break down and (so sad) buy them.  So maybe trying this planter we will be able to grow more than normal to carry us through to August with our harvest.  Will keep you posted!!!

Here is the lastest idea I saw this morning and will try in a few short weeks when it’s planting season

http://www.hometipsworld.com/how-to-grow-one-hundred-pounds-of-potatoes-at-home-in-a-barrel.html

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My 70 year old mother tending to the potato patch she lives very close and spends most days hanging around the house with the grandkids while we are at work…that is when she can fit it in between her morning kayaking workout, prayer meetings, friend breakfasts you get the idea 🙂

ImageFreshly harvestedImage Cleaned and sorted by size to store for winter