Before we get to the strawberry jam I must first tell you a story.
15 years ago my sister (the painter) did a very mean thing. The sort of thing only a sister would do.
So now, I am going to do my own very mean thing. I’m going to tell the whole world about her mean thing.
My sister, myself and my cousin were in my mother’s kitchen. We were all sitting around a bowl of strawberries when I spotted it. The perfect strawberry. I don’t mean a pretty good one, or an O.K., one. I mean THE perfect strawberry. It’s the one strawberry marketers around the world have been searching for their whole lives.
I picked the strawberry up with the reverence it deserved. I admired it from every angle and showed it to my relatives. As I held it up to the light I proclaimed it had a higher purpose in life than to be shoved into one of our mouths that instant. I had big plans for this berry. Maybe a decorative accent on a pie, or a topper on the perfect strawberry shortcake. The possibilities were endless as I stared at that jewel of a berry sparkling like a glistening ruby.
Then my stupid sister grabbed it out of my hand and shoved it in her mouth. Then she laughed hysterically. Of course I killed her right there and then and my sister is now dead. Metaphorically speaking anyway, she is dead to me. Well, really only when I think of this story is she dead to me. When I need her help or to borrow something she’s very much alive. But still … it was a pretty mean thing to do. At least I thought it was. As proven by the fact that I remember it 15 years later. Could be 20 actually.
You think that’s a sad story? Wait till I tell you about the time I had to call the Certo jam hotline. Meh. What a fiasco that was.
Let’s make jam! This is for those who have never made jam, so forgive me for oversimplifying if you are a jam aficionado.
Oh you need to know exactly how many? Seems awfully demanding to me but O.K. I’ll play that game. Here’s the actual ingredient list complete with accompanying photos and instructions.
Strawberry Jam (enough to make 7 or 8, 500 ml. jam jars)
Ingredients & Materials
2 full quarts of strawberries (once mashed they need to equal 4 cups)
7 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice (juice of 1 mammoth lemon)
1 package Liquid Pectin (cannot substitute with powdered pectin)
7 or 8 mason jars
1. Gather your ingredients.
I left the little green basket of strawberries so you could visually see what 1 quart is. A quart is NOT one of those large baskets with a handle. Not that I’ve ever made that mistake. That’s the kind of mistake an stupid-head would make. Call the Certo hotline. They’ll tell you. Yes, there is a Certo hotline. More on that fiasco in a later post.
2. Start of a pot of water boiling on the stove and put your seals in there to get them hot and soften the rubber.
3. Sterilize and heat your jars.
It’s important that your jars are clean and sterile so even if you just bought them, wash them in the dishwasher first on hot.
Set your oven to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it’s heated up stick your mason jars in the oven. You need hot jars for the jam to seal properly.
4. Hull your berries.
5. Mash your berries.
6. Pour your berries into a heavy bottomed pot. A good pot. Your favourite pot.
7. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, then 1 cup of sugar. Stir.
8. Let the sugar, berries and lemon juice sit for 15 minutes.
Once your 15 minutes are up …. prepare yourself for a sugar shock.
9. Add the remaining 6 cups of sugar. Which looks a little something like this …
Do not be alarmed. All jam has this much sugar, not just mine. I take that back. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can make delicious jam out of 2 strawberries and a stick of celery dipped in apple juice. At least they’ll tell you it’s delicious. Don’t believe them.
10. Stir the sugar to incorporate it then bring to a boil stirring constantly. Once you get a vigorous boil, stir for one minute then remove from heat.
11. Add liquid pectin and stir.
12. Stir and skim the jam for 5 minutes. My sister (the strawberry pig) tells me it is important NOT to skip this step. If you skip this step, your strawberry’s won’t evenly incorporate into the jam. How does she know this? Along with piggy, mean-girl tendencies she has what is commonly referred to as cooking impatience. She skipped this step last time she made jam. Her berries did not incorporate. Again … something the fine people at the Certo hotline could have warned her about.
Your jam is now made. From here on in it’s just a matter of getting it into a jar.
13. Grab a hot jar from the oven. At this point you need to work quickly so your jars, jam and seals stay hot. I leave my jam on the stove on low to keep it hot, but not cooking
14. Fill the jars using a ladle and a funnel.
15. Wipe the jar rim then place seal on top.
16. Set your jam aside and wait to hear the rims “pop”. The concave dimple on the rims will suck in and become convex when the jars have sealed. For reasons known only to the most mystical of jam makers, the odd jar won’t seal. It just won’t. There could be a small chip or irregularity on the rim, or maybe the jam fairy is just angry at you. Perhaps it is the work of a mean sister. Whatever the cause, you can just stick this unsealed jam jar in the fridge. It’ll be the your first jar you eat. So no need to worry or cry. Or call the Certo hotline.