On our second attempt of strawberry picking out at our CSA farm, we managed to pick enough to attempt some homemade strawberry jam!
Now, I have never done canning in my life - though I would like to learn - so I knew I would definitely be making some refrigerator jam. The recipe that the farm sent in their weekly email included instant pectin, but by the time we got back from the farm on Wednesday, we were far too dirty and exhausted to make a trip out for that. Luckily, allrecipes.com came to the rescue, with a recipe that required only pantry staples: strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
I was little a nervous about this project, but the girls were really excited about it, so we dived in head first!
First, you mash the berries. The girls helped with this!
Then you put them in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice, heating on low until the sugar dissolves.
A word of advice: use a big saucepan! After I turned up the heat it quickly bubbled up crazily and was boiling over everywhere! I didn't know what to do, because it was supposed to boil for ten minutes. I ended up reducing the heat somewhat and switching burners and was able to control it. But cleaning the stove was no fun.
The jam was supposed to boil for about ten minutes or until it reached 220 degrees. However, my candy thermometer reached just about 220 degrees right away, so I went more by the timing. I tested a few drops on a plate in the freezer, but in the end I just decided that it had boiled long enough and hoped for the best. I definitely half expected for the stuff not to gel and end up like strawberry syrup - or else harden into hard candy!
Imagine my surprise only a few hours later when we tasted a bite - perfect consistency! It really looks and tastes like strawberry jam.
This recipe is quite sweet - I would prefer a little less sweet in order for the fresh berry taste to stand out more. Some of the commenters on the recipe suggested using less sugar, but I was too nervous to change the recipe at all the first time. My kids have no problem with the sweetness. ;-)
We are so proud of ourselves for our own homemade jam!
Check out more frugal ideas at Frugal Fridays.