I've used more sugar in the past 2 days than I would normally use in two years...But we got jam!
My Mom has been heard to say that we [her children] are spoiled. My response to this: it is her own fault for feeding us too well. We grew up on everything home made and home grown and my Mom is a good cook to boot. So yeah, we can be fussy about things.
One thing that I have not been able to get used to is store bought jam. It's just not the same. My Mom still makes jam, so every time I visit I score a jar or two to bring home. However, my favorite is strawberry, and judging from the fact that Mom always runs out, it's everyone else's favorite too.
This year I got the itch to try making my own. I've been keeping my eye out for some decent looking strawberries when I had the time to spend in the kitchen, and this weekend was it. I didn't really have a clue what I was doing, but what the heck.
Yesterday morning while grocery shopping, I bought a bunch of strawberries, some Certo, and some sugar. Then after lunch I got to it. I pulled out the recipe page from the Certo package and settled on freezer jam. I prefer freezer jam and it's easier to make. And it was easy. In no time at all I had jam!
Yes, that is an empty Kraft Peanut Butter jar full of jam in the back. My Mom is forever saving small containers for just this purpose. I've never had any reason to, but I did happen to have this one jar that had been washed and not yet recycled. I was scrounging for containers, so it came in handy.
I had bought too many strawberries and remarked to Husband that I had enough to make more jam. He was all for it, though he suggested I make the cooked kind since freezer space is an issue. I knew it would be more work, but couldn't argue with his reasoning.
So this morning I made a big pot of pasta sauce to freeze. Then, once the stores were open at noon, I went back to the store for more Certo and sugar. I didn't see the single packet box of Certo that I had bought the day before, but I saw a 2 packet box, so grabbed that.
Once I got home, I referred to the Certo recipe sheet from the day before and set about mashing strawberries. I actually managed to mash almost a cup too much. I wondered how big a deal this would be. I picked up the new box of Certo I had bough and realized it was liquid, instead of the powdered type I'd used yesterday. I pulled out the recipe insert and discovered that this type called for even less strawberries. The instructions say not to double it. So, I measured out the correct amount into the pot, put saran wrap over the rest, and got on with things.
You bring the berries and sugar to a boil, let it boil for a minute, then remove from heat and stir in the pectin. Then the instructions say to stir and skim for 5 minutes "to prevent floating fruit". I was a little confused as it didn't say what to skim. But once I got stirring I saw the layer of pink foam on top and had a vague memory of watching my Mom skim pink foam from the top of jam she was making. I decided the pink foam was coming off.
Next question - how exactly does one stir and skim? I had been stirring while deciding what needed to be skimmed, so after a minute or two I started skimming. I had the timer set for 5 minutes and when it went off there was still foam. Keep skimming? Stir more? Put the jam in the jars?
I gave it a few more stirs and decided it was going into the jars. As soon as I filled the first jar the "floating fruit" reference made sense as the jam seemed to separate a bit. But the rest of the jars were fine - probably because I was stirring as I was filling the jars.
While this was a lot more work, it was strangely satisfying to hear the pops as the jars sealed themselves while I was cleaning up in the kitchen.
I still had some mashed strawberries sitting on the counter though. And another envelope of the liquid Certo. I checked the instructions and I had almost enough mashed strawberries for another batch of freezer jam. It was supper time, so I took a break to eat, but then I was back at it. Again, the freezer jam went really fast. I had to break down and use glass jars for this batch though.
Aren't they pretty?
So now we have way more jam that we can eat in a year. And I'm tired. But it was kinda fun.