Homemade Strawberry Jam

By ERIN TURNER

Strawberries are the essence of summer.  One bite into a freshly plucked berry and you are enveloped with the warmth of summer.  You just can’t help but to close your eyes and float back to your childhood when you would ransack your grandparents’ strawberry patch.  Strawberries have a magical effect on people’s memories.

Yesterday I created some of those memories with my kids and other dear family members.  We trekked over to Red Hen Farm on Spurgin Road which isn’t far from our house.  They have a decent u-pick strawberry field.  So, for about an hour our family picked berries.  We ended up with 21 lbs of bright red, succulent strawberries.  They only charged us $2.50/lb for these all-natural delights and the sweet summertime memories we created were free of charge!

I’m sure my boys will forever remember picking the strawberries alongside their grandmother as she expertly crawled on her knees plucking berry after berry and retelling the stories of when she picked berries for pay decades ago.  Priceless.

Fresh Strawberries

There’s nothing sweeter than homegrown, hand-pickedstrawberries.

Well, after bringing home the strawberries and nibbling on them until our bellies were plum-full, it was time to preserve them.  So, I spent the latter part of the afternoon making jams, juice and lemonade from the strawberries.  The kids kept coming in the kitchen for sampling and I kept telling them how wonderful it will be to open one of these jars on a dark, cold wintery morning in December. With the pop of the seal we would instantly be transported back to this beautiful July day with our faces and fingers stained red from the strawberries and bellies full of summer deliciousness.  They simply smiled because they know the magic of preserving summer’s bounty.

After the first taste of my old-fashioned Strawberry Jam, my oldest son proclaimed that it was sooo good and much better than Smuckers.  I appreciated the compliment and it made me wonder how my jam compared to Smuckers pricewise.  I pulled out this week’s grocery store ads and found a 32 oz Smuckers Strawberry Jam for $3.49.  After putting some numbers together I discovered my homemade version comes out at around $3.00 for 32 oz.  Not a huge savings but we also aren’t comparing apples to apples.  First of all, I KNOW what ingredients are in my jam: strawberries, pectin and sugar.  And secondly, I know where the strawberries came from and know they weren’t sprayed or contaminated.  Finally, can you really compare a mass-produced jam to a fresh, homemade jam?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Therefore, the minimal savings actually is multiplied ten-fold because of all these factors!

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Do NOT alter the recipe by doubling or halving the recipe! You’ll ruinit.

Okay, here is my basic Strawberry Jam recipe.  It’s just the standard Ball jar recipe that’s been around forever but it makes a wonderful remembrance of summertime.  If you are new to making jams and jellies just a little tip: do NOT alter the recipe by doubling or halving the recipe!  You’ll ruin it.  Seriously, don’t do it…I’ve tried and had to learn the hard way! Just follow the recipe.

STRAWBERRY JAM RECIPE

  • 2 quarts of Strawberries
  • 1 Package powdered Pectin
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 7 cups of sugar

Wash and crush strawberries.  Combine strawberries, pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add sugar all at once, stirring until dissolved.  Return to a rolling boil (a rolling boil is when the mixture is still boiling even when you are stirring it).  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 20 minutes (this time accommodates for Missoula’s altitude) in a boiling water canner.  Yields: 4 pints

Homemade strawberry jam.  Canning.

Can’t wait to open one of these jars of deliciousness in the dead ofwinter!

I hope you take the opportunity this summer to capture some of the essence of the season through preserving the harvest.  And just a FYI: the late summer strawberry harvest will be starting up in the next couple of weeks.  So, you might want to plan a trip to Red Hen Farm in the near future so you can pick some strawberries and create some memories.  Believe me, there is nothing better than cracking open a jar of Strawberry Jam in the dead of winter and experiencing its pure magic!

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 Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, sticking to a budget, and living sustainably in her blog archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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