This is one of my favorite things to make at the peak of strawberry season. I like to go to my local farmer’s market near closing time when vendors often drop the price of fresh berries. This recipe will work with almost any type of fruit, but you may need to increase the sugar depending on the tartness – blackberries and raspberries usually require a bit more, peaches and plums use a bit less. Read all the instructions before starting this recipe – you’ll need a few things prepped and ready – such as sterilized jelly jars (just follow instructions on box for sterilizing jars). It is also worth purchasing a canning kit which usually includes wide mouth funnel, magnetic lid lifter, vinyl coated jar lifter, jar wrench & vinyl coated tong. You can find them online for about $10 at The Kitchen Store http://bit.ly/m1scJ6
4 cups prepared strawberries– (measure after hulling, washing, slicing, and cutting into small pieces)
1 1/3 cups white sugar, or to taste
¼ cup lemon juice
1 package of powdered pectin – like Surejell – only if necessary
1. In large non-reactive skillet (at least 12” wide) combine prepared fruit with sugar and lemon juice and let sit for 2 hours.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes foamy. If there is a lot of foam, skim some of it away with a large spoon. Continue cooking until the mixture becomes syrupy. Be sure to stir constantly once it begins to thicken. After a couple of minutes, the jam will become substantially thicker and a wooden spoon will leave a trail on the surface of the skillet. Do not overcook. You can test with a good instant read thermometer (like a Thermapenhttp://bit.ly/iIJNPk) – it should reach 220°F. You can also test using the Rodale Method (from Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow http://amzn.to/jcmeO6) –
Float a light metal mixing bowl in a larger bowl or basin filled with ice water. Drop a teaspoon of the preserve mixture in the bottom of the floating bowl. Because metal conducts heat well, the mixture will cool quickly. Once it's cool, run your finger through the mixture. It is ready if it doesn't run back together. If this attempt fails, cook the mixture four or five minutes longer and try again. If it fails again, it is now time to add pectin to the preserves. (One package per four cups of fruit is stirred into the mixture off the heat and then put back on the burner and boiled for two minutes.)
3. When jam is ready, ladle it into hot sterilized jars, leaving a ¼” space at the top. Wipe rims and seal with lids. Let cool on counter and then refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to a year.