Homemade canned goods are one of the best gifts to give. Canned jams being among the top in my personal opinion. That special touch of laboring through the hot, bubbly syrup transformed into thick, sweet fruit is a badge of love when I hand it to family or friend.
There is also something so rewarding about making your own jam instead of buying it at the store. It's a bit of a novelty because this was common stuff back in the day when a homecook couldn't imagine going to the store to buy their canned goods--they would make it right at home. And I guess that's what I like about it, being a part of something that were common occurrences around the home.
Now, I know it's not all romantic and such, because that whole boiling water, sterilizing the jars, wiping off the jam, etc., isn't the most enjoyable way to spend your time while your two girls nap. However, once you hear the popping of the lids, the jam setting, the first jar being opened to taste the results and a qualified, "MMMM" from your 2 1/2 year old, it makes it all worth it.
Strawberry Jam (printable recipe)
This is a recipe from Barefoot Contessa. I have added my notes below in italics.
What you need:
3 pints strawberries
3 cups superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons Orange liquor (Grand Marnier)
1/2 cup peeled, cored & chopped Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup rinsed blueberries
Wash & rinse your strawberries. Hull them, cutting the large ones in
quarters, medium ones in half & small ones leave them alone.
In a heavy bottom pot mix strawberries with sugar & liquor. Set over
medium heat, stirring constantly. When it starts to boil, add apples
& blueberries. Maintain a rolling boil and stir occassionally,
skimming the foam off the top. Put in a candy thermometer in and wait
till it reached 220 degrees (25-35 minutes).
Once temperature is reached, cool to room temperature and put in jars
to put in fridge. Will keep for two weeks. If you want to have jam
keep longer than follow canning guidelines (you can look online or if
you have The Joy of Cooking). It produced about 3 3/4 half pint jars
of jam for me.
1. You can pulse regular sugar in a food processor to make superfine
sugar, if you can't find it at the store. I put the sugar in and
pressed on for about 45-60 seconds.
2. Grand Marnier is expensive, so you could do one of three things in
my opinion. Buy the little container (the ones they sell on planes),
omit it altogether as it adds a depth to the jam but not necessary, or
put in orange zest or orange extract.
3. I seemed to have stirred & waited for it to reach 220, but it
didn't. I gauged it more on what it looked like. You could put a cold
plate in the freezer and drop a bit on the plate, then run a spoon or
knife through the mixture. If it parts (think Red Sea) than take it
off the heat. Remember that you're basically working in the candy
arena & it could go from soft ball stage to hard ball stage pretty