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Friday, June 1, 2012

Simple Small-Batch Strawberry Jam

I have always wanted to be able to have shelf upon shelf of things we use regularly, such as canned tomatoes or jam. But if you are anything like me, the thought of home canning probably scares you a little. About a year ago, I started making up jars of jam but not actually canning it. It has to stay refrigerated, but it was a way to make it myself instead of buying it AND it didn't require special equipment. The best part was being able to whip up a batch in the morning and eat it on sandwiches by lunch! This delicious lower-sugar jam is perfect for anyone who:
  • does not own home canning equipment
  • only wants to make a few jars at a time 
  • enjoys having a variety of jam flavors
  • does not have an abundance of canning jars for large batches
  • is concerned about the ingredients or amount of sugar in store-bought jam or preserves
  • wants to use organic or local fruit in their jam
  • enjoys the taste of fresh, homemade jam 

Here are the things you need to make your own simple strawberry refrigerator jam in 10 minutes or less. Seriously, it's THAT fast!

You will need a container or box of low or no-sugar needed pectin, about a pint of washed & hulled strawberries (fresh or previously frozen), granulated sugar or honey (optional), measuring cups & spoons, a potato masher or pastry blender, 2 half-pint (8 oz.) jars with lids, a saucepan and a flat-bottomed dish for mashing berries.

Using a pastry blender (chunkier berries) or a potato masher (less chunky berries), mash a single layer of berries at a time to your family's preferred texture. You could also use a food processor to eliminate all chunks and/or a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds; however, that would take the "simple" out of this recipe for sure!

Place 1 1/3 c. mashed berries, 1/3 c. water or unsweetened fruit juice or thawed juice concentrate (I use water) and 1 1/2 T. pectin in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil that can not be stirred down. This will take about 3-4 minutes at high heat. Get a hard rapid boil going and stir constantly. 

Once you've gotten a good rolling boil with the fruit, add in up to 1/2 c. of sugar or honey (I've done 1/3 c. and 1/2 c. and really like it best with 1/2 c.). Stir well and bring back to a full rolling boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Turn off heat. Skim foam, if necessary.

Pour hot jam into hot, clean jars and allow to cool on counter for about 30 minutes before putting into refrigerator. This jam will keep for up to 3 weeks, so I only like to make 2 jars at a time. Feel free to double or triple the recipe for more jars. To make jam in under 8 minutes start to finish, I prefer to freeze 1 1/3 c. mashed portions of fresh, seasonal fruit. That way I can make strawberry this time, raspberry next time and blueberry after that. We don't get tired of having the same one over and over again and I can get great deals on seasonal fruit to use year-round.

This jam is delicious eaten on toast or biscuits, as the bottom layer of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, on top of ice cream and pancakes (just heat lightly to make it "pourable") or to make a great PB&J sandwich. Enjoy!

Simple Small-Batch Strawberry Jam

1 1/3 c. mashed strawberries (fresh or previously frozen)
1/3 c. water, unsweetened fruit juice or thawed juice concentrate
1 1/2 T. low or no-sugar needed pectin
1/2 c. granulated sugar or honey (optional)

Mash berries in a single layer in a flat-bottomed dish, using a potato masher or pastry blender. 

Put mashed berries and water or fruit juice into a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Cook on high heat until fruit reaches a vigorous boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir continuously. This will take about 3-4 minutes. 

Add sugar or honey (if using) and return to a full rolling boil for one minute, stirring continuously. Turn off heat. Skim foam, if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot, clean jars and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 min.) on the counter top. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Since this jam is NOT processed using a hot water bath, it is NOT shelf-stable. It must be refrigerated!

No-sugar added directions: Same as above except use 2 c. of mashed fruit, 1/3 c. fruit juice or juice concentrate instead of water, 1 1/2 T. pectin and no sugar. After mixture comes to a rolling boil, skim any foam and ladle hot jam into hot, clean jars.

To make other varieties: Raspberry and blackberry can be made exactly as listed above. For blueberry, cherry or peach, add 3 t. of lemon juice with the mashed fruit, juice/water and pectin during the first boil then continue with the directions of above.

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