I love this time of year. Strawberries are in – and that’s the harbinger of great canning ahead for the next several months. So many berries and fruits and veggies from April through September here in Atlanta.
Every year I teach a few classes at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. They have a inviting outdoor kitchen located in their amazing kitchen garden. I look forward to being there again. I sure understand why our ancestors often canned outdoors. Yup, to escape the heat in the kitchen during the summer months. It’s also invigorating too! Looks like our group enjoyed it too!
For Strawberry Jam this year, I decided to give a try to something my mentor in canning, Marisa McClellan, uses frequently. I’ve done strawberries by the old fashioned (and very good!) way of just cooking them down. And I’ve also done them with classic pectin. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
With the cooking-down method (the technique used to make fruit butters), the color fades (not a big deal as it doesn’t affect the taste) and it takes a very long time. Strawberries have very little pectin and a lot of liquid so that means anywhere from 1-2 hours, cooking on low-medium heat. With classic pectin, the color is retained, it is quite fast (less than 30 minutes from start to finish) but the amount of sugar required to make the pectin set is huge – about 3-4. That is, 3 cups of sugar for 4 cups strawberries.
Marisa has enticed me to try Pomona’s Pectin that doesn’t rely on sugar to set. That means you can use no or little sugar, and any kind of sweetener, as desired – like honey, maple syrup, turbinado, agave … you get the idea. That means not only does it taste more like fresh strawberries (instead of sugar!), it’s also healthier.
For this recipe, I borrowed from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff, another of my favorite canners who often uses Pomona’s Pectin. It uses honey as the sweetener and I like how it compliments strawberries, a very delicate taste. Note that you can use the amount she suggests, or more or less. I suggest you start with the minimal amount, then add more after tasting if desired.
More Strawberry Recipes? Krissoff has many varieties in her book. Marisa has an amazing group of new recipes in her third and just released new book, Naturally Sweetened Food in Jars. Many use Pomona’s Pectin and a great variety of sweeteners. I’m anxious to try the Cocoa Strawberry Jam soon! And I have a Strawberry Lemon Jam using a bit of agave syrup that relies on cooking down, and a Strawberry Maple Jam that uses maple of course. These can be found elsewhere here on my website under Recipes.
Recipe: Strawberry Vanilla Jam*
This recipe is a classic Strawberry Jam. But we’ve brought it to modern taste standards by using Pomona’s Pectin which requires little or no sweetener. Pomona’s Pectin relies on Calcium Water (included in the box of pectin) to make the jam set. It can be found in stores like Whole Foods that sell natural or organic products. When using any pectin product, always follow the package directions exactly. Otherwise your set may be comprised.
Makes about 6 -7 half-pints
½ to 1 ½ cups honey or other sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, maple, etc.)
(Sweetener can be added to taste)
4 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder
3 pounds rinsed and hulled strawberries, crushed (not diced) = about 8 cups
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons calcium powder liquid (made up by following directions in box of pectin)
Stir sugar and pectin power together. Put strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla and calcium solution in a wide 6-8 quart stockpot or deep stainless steel skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring in the sugar-pectin mixture. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Return to a boil, then remove from heat.
Ladle into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Wipe rims of the jars with a damp cloth, bubble with a table knife or jar bubbler, place lid and band on each jar. Return jars to boiling water canning pot, with water covering jars by 1 inch. Bring water back to a boil and boil for 5 minutes to process.
Remove jars to a folded towel on heatproof surface. Do not disturb for 12 hours. Remove bands and test lids for seal. If any jar hasn’t sealed, immediately refrigerate. Label and date jars and store.
*Adapted from “Quick, High-Yield Strawberry Jam” in Canning for a New Generation, by Liana Krissoff
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