This is a relatively simple recipe; messy maybe; but, simple. You can adapt
it to cover making jam from many other fruits and not just strawberries. But,
since Santa Maria is a large strawberry-growing area it's a natural!
- Strawberries, sugar, lemon juice (One batch is four cups of cut strawberries,
four cups of sugar, juice of one lemon and makes three pints. A half flat
of strawberries [six baskets] makes a little over ten cups of cut strawberries.)
- Paraffin wax to seal the jars
- Clean and hull enough strawberries to make up four cups of cut strawberries
(large cuts - small berries just get cut in half). Mix that with four cups
of sugar and the juice of one lemon in a pan. Fill the pan roughly half full
as the mixture will expand during one part of the cooking process.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat to keep the mixture boiling
but watch it carefully as it will bubble up and, if the heat is too high,
boil over. If that happens you have a very sticky mess to clean up!
- In the background, bring a pot of water with jam jars in it to a boil and
boil them for 20 minutes or so to sterilize them. Also, using a heat diffuser,
set the paraffin wax on a low heat to melt. Use great caution with the wax
as it is very flammable and will ignite if given enough heat. (I use a gas
stove which makes the heat diffuser a safety item as it keeps the flame away
from the wax.)
- Boil the strawberry mixture for between 30 and 60 minutes (sorry, there
is no single right time). Skim the bubbles off the top if enough form to cause
problems. What you are looking for is the liquid to come off the spoon slowly
instead of draining off quickly. The difference is subtle but you should be
able to notice it. The reason is that if the liquid is not "stiff"
enough the jam will not set up properly.
- Once the mixture is stiff enough remove from the heat and start filling
the jam jars. Using a sterile funnel and scoop fill each of the jam jars to
within a quarter inch or so of the top. (The funnel here is actually the cut
top of an old juice container.)
- Once all the jars are full, use a spoon to cover the top of each jar with
a layer of melted wax. Fill each jar close to the top. Do all this while the
jam in the jar is still hot.
- Let the jars sit and cool until the wax has cooled enough to form an opaque
and solid top. The jam in the jar will still be fairly hot. When opaque and
solid on top, seal the jar with its lid. Let the jam continue to cool. As
it cools, the lid should be pulled down some and form a tight seal. This,
along with the wax, seals the jam in the sterile jar and allows you to store
the jam for fairly long periods.
- No action is needed for this recipe unless you have insulin problems in
which case you need to develop a recipe with much less (or no) sugar.
- Lately, I've been making the process shorter by using the Sure Jell pectin.
I use the low sugar version of the product and follow the recipe in the package.
Works out as well I've found, but much quicker. To summarize their procedure:
- Place 6 cups of crushed or cut-up small berries into the pan.
- Add 1/2 teaspon butter or margarine to help prevent foam.
- Measure 4 cups sugar.
- Add 1/4 cup sugar and Sure Jell packet to the strawberries.
- Heat on high until the mixture comes to a rolling boil while constantly
- Add the rest of the sugar and bring back to a boil; again while stirring
- Cook for exactly one (1) minute.
- Spoon into jars. This method makes four pint jars of jam with a little
bit left over.
- If you don't want to go through the wax sealing for the jam you can get
around that by storing the jam in the refrigerator. You will have to use it
faster than you would sealed however. The wax/lid seal process gives the jam
a very long shelf life (over a year in some cases for me).
- In general, for buying purposes, a half flat of strawberries (six baskets)
will make just over ten cups of crushed berries.
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Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved