Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jammin it Up!- Strawberry Jam Pectin Free

Free of: Gluten, Corn, Soy, Dairy
It is becoming that time of year again, time to pick strawberries.  The farms will be picking in a few more weeks, but for now, our local Harris Teeter's was having a great sale at four for five dollars.  So, I decided to start a little early making jam.  This will in no way stop our family tradition of going to the local farm to pick strawberries, but getting an early start is always good for me.   Especially since we just consumed our last jar of freezer jam.  Hence, the need to make lots of jam this weekend.  

  I have been picking strawberries and making freezer jam with my family for the past thirty years.  I now do it with my kids.  We have always made it with pectin (the jelly that you see on your right in the picture above).  However, now that we have corn allergies, and pectin contains dextrose, that is most likely a corn derivitive, we now make pectin free jam for my one sons ( the jar on the left).

I have including both recipes:

Pectin Free:
(I got this recipe from cincinnatilocavore and reprint it with their permission.)

Tips (read these before making the jelly.):

When I bought three quarts of gorgeous berries from Neltner, I was careful to select quarts that had a few berries with green tips -- this is the first secret to making no-pectin strawberry jam. There's pectin in unripe strawberries, and those with a little green left on them have plenty of pectin.... You only need a handful of berries with green tips in each quart to provide enough pectin to gel your preserves.

I wash, hull, and roughly mash the berries -- leaving a lot of big chunks, as in my opinion that's what preserves are all about -- and then after I've brought it to a full rolling boil for five minutes, I pour the whole thing into a sieve to strain the berries from the syrup and put the syrup back into the pot for further cooking. That's the extra work part, but it's also the second secret to making no-pectin strawberry preserves. Cooking and cooking and cooking the entire thing down until it's reduced will also work to prevent runny preserves, but it also tends to produce a 'cooked' taste. Which is still good, but I want a fresh taste. So I reduce only the syrup, then add the berries back in after the syrup has reached the gelling point.

Yield: approximately 3 8-oz jars of preserves per quart of berries

Strawberries, a few slightly unripe, slightly mashed
1 c sugar per cup of mashed berries
1 T lemon juice per cup of mashed berries (optional, but I find the lemon juice brightens the taste.)

Fill canning kettle with water to cover 1/2-pint jars by 2 inches, cover, bring to a boil, and keep it there.

Set 1/2 pint (8-oz) jars and lids into a pan of hot water over lowest heat. You'll need 1 jar per cup of mashed berries.

Wash and hull strawberries. Mash to big chunks and measure by the cupful into a large heavy non-aluminum pot. Add 1 cup of sugar per cup of mashed berries, cover, and leave for several hours. Bring to a full rolling boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the sugar from sticking and burning. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, allowing syrup to drip through sieve for a few minutes. Set the sieve aside, return syrup to pot, add lemon juice, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boiling on high heat until candy thermometer reads between 220 and 222. Return contents of sieve to pot and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into hot 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/2" headroom. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth, cover with hot lids and screw on lid rims without tightening. (The lid rims are only there to hold the lids in place during processing; tightening them can both interfere with processing and cause you to dislodge the lids when removing the lid rims before storing your preserves.) Set jars into canning rack and drop into boiling water in kettle. Cover kettle and process 10 minutes, remove from water, and set on rack to cool. Once cool, check seals (press gently in the center of the lid -- if you feel a slight pop and the center flexes down and then back up again, the lid didn't form a seal and that jar should be refrigerated and used within six months), remove lid rims and label.

Pectin-Freezer Jam (In case you can have corn):
(I have always used the Ball Recipe that comes in the pectin box.)

2 cups of mashed strawberries (about 2 - 1 1lb containers)
4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 box of pectin

Combine prepared strawberries with the lemon juice.  Add sugar, mixing it thoroughly and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Combine 3/4 cup water and Ball Original Fruit Pectin in a small saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly.  Boil hard for 1 minute, continuing to stir.

Add cooked pectin mixture to fruit mixture.  Stir in 3 minutes.

Ladle the freezer jam inot the clean, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.   Apply caps and let the jam stand in refrigerator until set, but no longer than 24 hours.  Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to one year.

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