I have been making jam for years. It is an activity I enjoy, the only thing that would make it more enjoyable would be air conditioning, it can get pretty hot making jam. I guess that could be why so many people do freezer jam. I am old fashion and have not jumped on the freezer jam train. I like to cook my jam and hear my jars ping! For years I have used Certo to make my jams.
My problem with Certo is this, the list of ingredients is;
- fumaric acid
My problem is with the last ingredient or ingredients. Basically the code in brackets is Kraft’s way of saying this is our secret formula and we are not going to tell you what it is. That bothers me. For many years I have longed for the Old Paths, simpler times and harder work. Sure I can make it all picturesque, I know there were hardships, but people knew what they were eating because they made it. They made their dyes and soaps, they even made the lye that went in their soaps. If I am truly honest with you since Joel’s cancer I am no longer okay with the K008B’s of this world and I am slowly eradicating them from our lives. Yes, I buy things with various coded ingredients in them but I am making efforts to come up with alternatives… but I digress, this is a post about making jam from scratch, not the woes of our chemical laden society.
Old Path Strawberry Jam
I have read many non-pectin recipes but none of them grabbed me so I decided to experiment and this is what I came up with. As with any jam you want to start with clean, ripe, fresh fruit. I do give my fruit a quick rinse in cold water. I put some cold water in my sink, dump in the berries, swish them around and then quickly move them to a colander so any extra liquid can drain. I hull and cut my berries. Using a potato masher I mash-up my berries and then I am ready to measure them.
(If my sugar looks odd it is because it is an unbleached organic sugar.)
Gather your ingredients, you will need;
- 6 cups of crushed strawberries
- 3 cups of sugar
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- lemon for juicing 1 TBSP (don’t throw out your lemon I’ll post what you can do with it later)
Peel, core, and grate your apples, combine with 1 TBSP of lemon juice and add it to your crushed berries. Stir together and add to large pot. Bring berry mixture to a boil stirring often, once it has come to a boil add in sugar and bring back to a boil.
The tough part is, I cannot give you an exact time for how long to let the berries boil. I cooked mine for about 15 minutes. If your berries are smaller they will cook down quicker, however, if they are bigger with a higher water content it will take longer for it to reach the consistency for jam. Which brings me to another point, some folks like a runny jam others want to cut it with a knife, obviously the cook times will vary depending on the consistency you desire. Keep a plate in the freezer, dab a little of the jam mixture on the cold plate and you will get a picture of where your jam is at.
It is important to sterilize everything that you are using I put my ladle in the boiling water as well as my canning funnel. You want to have all this ready so that when your jam is done you can put it right into the jars. With jam making you reach a stage where you skim off the air bubbles that have collected on the surface of your jam. When I was using commercial pectin the amount of ‘foam’ was substantial, however, with this recipe there was very little to remove.
This is where I got busy and forgot to take pictures. Using my canning funnel and ladle I filled the jars to within about a 1/4 of an inch from the top of the jar. Next I dipped a cloth in the boiling water and wiped the rim to be sure there were no sticky drips, to allow for a perfect seal. With the lid in place I added the ring and then the jam was ready to go in the water bath.
As I said I have been canning for years and I will often have a jar or two that don’t seal just put them in the fridge and use them first! I did a taste test with my family, everyone liked the new recipe, some said they were both good and Joshua liked the new recipe better, so I will be replacing my Certo with apples. Some folks don’t add the apples and just cook their berries down longer. Also if you have a few berries that still have some white or pink on them it is okay to throw them in too. I read once that unripe fruit has higher amounts of pectin in them. We have an apple tree that has apples that ripen in the summer, next year I will try using a few of the not fully ripened apples and see how it works. I also want to experiment with honey instead of sugar. I am looking forward to experimenting with the other fruit coming along this summer.
Do you have a favourite from scratch jam recipe?
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