Sunday, July 27, 2008

Strawberry Jam

A couple weeks ago I decided to try my hand at jam. I've never tried it before, but I had some great strawberries that needed to be used. I didn't have any room in the freezer, so I decided to actually cook and can jam. Here are a few things I learned.

Freezer jam will taste fresher and lighter since you don't have to cook the fruit and you can use less sugar. Only problem with that for me is a need for freezer space. I like the idea of putting it on my shelf if I don't have room in the freezer.

Sugar helps with gelling and it helps preserve and lengthen shelf life. If you use less sugar than called for by the type of pectin you're using, it will not set up properly. You'll have syrup rather than jam.

I bought the regular pectin since I didn't know there were different kinds. Big mistake. It meant that I had to use TONS of sugar (7 cups of sugar to 4 cups of fruit!) to make it gel properly. I didn't put in the full amount called for and decided I'd just use it as syrup if it didn't gel. That's exactly what happened. Even with the reduced amt. of sugar it still tasted super sweet. Fine for syrup, but it would have been too sweet for a basic fruit jam that I wanted.

There are different types of pectin you can buy. Regular pectin requires a lot of sugar if you can. It doesn't take quite as much when you do freezer jam, but it's still more than I want in my jam. There are also low sugar and no sugar pectins. No sugar pectins require a sugar substitute like Splenda if you use it according to the box. I found out this weekend that you can actually add sugar to jams made with the low/no sugar pectins and make it still work. My sister made some DELICIOUS jam with no sugar pectin by adding just 1 cup of sugar to it. It gelled well and tasted like fruit rather than sugar. Definitely do that next time.

So, my "recipe" suggestion:
1 box no sugar pectin
1 C sugar
1 C unsweetened juice (white grape or something that fits with the type of fruit you're using)
4 C strawberry

Follow the directions for cooked jam on the box.

ALSO: If you're doing cooked/canned jam, spend the $6 or whatever for the propper tongs! I totally burned myself when the bottles splashed back into my water bath because I couldn't grip them well with what I had.


Jodi said...

Thanks for sharing what you did, to help prevent others from doing the same. I need to try this too...but like you, I ahve no freezer space. Maybe after I get back from youth conference this week

FoxyJ said...

We don't eat much jam, so I've usually made 8 jars of freezer jam and had it last a year--so it doesn't take up as much space.I really like the low-sugar pectin for freezer jam. One thing I discovered last year for freezer jam were plastic jars for the freezer. I think Ball makes them. They are little jars made of plastic, and the lids fit with bottoms so you can stack them. So handy!

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

We don't eat much jam either, but our freezer always seems to be packed. You can also use tiny ziplock tupperware things to do freezer jam. Yea, you don't really want to do glass jars for freezer jam.

Harmony said...

Great job for your first challenge.

Juls said...

I should have told you to go with the steam canner, much better than water bath.