Friday, July 13, 2012

Industrious Summer Part 2: Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Part of my industrious summer has included learning how to can, or at least the basic concepts of it. I purchased this cute little set produced by Ball, to help me jump into the process. It included a basket that you set the jars in for processing. You can easily lower it into the boiling water, and easily remove it after the jars have been processed. One of the main reasons I put canning off for so long was because every canning how-to I had seen showed tongs handling these piping hot glass jars. Yikes. So, when I stumbled upon this "safer" basket method, I proudly purchased it. Literally, ask Billy, I was brimming ear to ear as I walked it up to the cash register.

For my first experiment I made a couple jars of this fabulous Strawberry Vanilla Jam. I didn't buy pectin, so this was a good recipe to start with because you use lemon juice, and apparently with small batch canning you don't necessarily need the pectin. Of course in all canning you shouldn't experiment with ingredients or their measurements, but make sure to follow the recipe exactly. I'm new to this, so I'm learning from this great blog called Food in Jars. It has inspired me to actually take a class on canning so I can have a better grasp on it. The author makes it sound so interesting. Hope you enjoy her recipe! Check out her blog for more background information, and for more processing photos.

Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam
Yield: 3 half pint jars Active Time: 1 hr Inactive Time: 4+ hrs
Cook's Note: All I had on hand was pint jars, so my jam filled up one jar and 2/3 of the second jar. Since I've read about not changing canning recipes, I opened the 2/3 filled jar first and stored it in the fridge. Just in case. Again I'm just learning, any input is welcome!
Adapted from Food in Jars

1 quart strawberries, chopped (apprx. 4 cups)
2 cups sugar, divided
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 lemon, zested and juiced

How To:
1) Prepare strawberries and place them in a large bowl. Cover with 1 cup of the sugar, and toss with your hands. Mash up the strawberries with your hands until a jam like consistency begins. Add vanilla beans and scraped seeds to strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the berries macerate for a minimum of 3 hours, but up to 72 hours in your fridge.

2) On the day of canning, read all of your canning kit instructions (if you're a newbie like me). Prepare three half pint jars by thoroughly washing jars, lids, and rings with hot, soapy water.

3) Bring a deep pot of water to a boil, deep enough to cover the jars by an inch of water.

4) In another pot, add macerated strawberries and the second cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, and then drop heat to medium. Stirring occasionally. Simmer until jam reaches 220ºF.

5) In the final 5 minutes of cooking, add the lemon zest and juice. Remove from heat, and pour into prepared jars.

6) Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process for 10 minutes (or 20 minutes total if you live in high altitude like us, your canning kit should come with an altitude time adjuster).

7) After you've processed your jars accordingly, remove from water, and let cool on counter top. Check the seal by pressing the button in the middle of the lid. If it doesn't click, it sealed properly; if it clicks, place in fridge to use. If preserving, keep in a cool dark place.

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