Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Jam and Pack-rating ;-)

Or shall I say recycling? LOL 

  Thanks to California and Oregon, canning season as arrived once again to cold and wet Washington.  
I love it here, but I sure do hope that one day I'll be canning my own strawberries :-)
Yard Birds has an awesome sale on the berries right now ~ 5.00 for 4lbs. 
We bought 16lbs, and I spent the morning turning them into jam. 

 It's fun...and messy...that's why there are only 2 pictures of the process ;-)  Of course, the way I do things, every project usually results in a mess.  That's half the fun!!! 

16 lbs of strawberries + several lbs of sugar (believe me, you don't want to know how many;-)  made 10 quart jars of jam. 

It's a little tricky timing everything right, as the jars need to be sterilized, but still warm, the jam needs to be spooned into hot jars just a minute after boiling, and the water in your caner has to be boiling to process the cans.

SO...I figured out the order that works the best, so that I'm not waiting on the washer to finish the jars, or for the water to finally come to a boil. :-)

1.) If your dishwasher is anything like mine, (takes FOREVER(!) to finish) load it with all of your jars and start it washing a good 2 hours before you plan to fill them. 
2.)Wash your strawberries and cut off the tops and slice them as you do so. 
3.) Since my family likes jam without chunks in it, I put the strawberry slices through the blender.
4.) Pour the strawberries into a big pot on the stove and add the lemon juice.  You want to bring the mixture to a boil.
5.) Start the water boiling in your caner as soon as you pour the berries into your other pot.
6.) Then you just continue to follow the instructions that come out of your pectin box :-)
Simple, yes?  Everything should be on time and ready for your use. 

Another time-saver (or rather a stress-saver;-)  is to wash and puree all of your strawberries the day before you plan to can, or even several hours before and keep it in the fridge.  Then it doesn't seem like such a huge job, even though  you spent the same amount of time. 

By the way, don't throw away those plastic containers the strawberries come in!  They make excellent seed-starting pots!  You'll just have to find a good place to stuff them until next spring. 

                                "A man's wealth is in the size of his junk-pile." ~Unknown 

OK, maybe it's not Biblical, but junk piles sure can be handy resources sometimes! ;-)

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