Homemade Strawberry Jam
As I sit here at my laptop, and look around at all of the modern conveniences that life in this century has afforded me, I can not help but wonder if my great grandparents would recognize most of them. If they were to be able to travel through time and space for a visit, how would my everyday existence appear to their old world eyes and sense of accomplishment? Would they be impressed with the fact that my home and life is stuffed to the gills with time saving gadgets which free up my time, only so it can be over scheduled and filled up with a million other distracting tasks, preventing me from savoring the moment at hand? Above all, could they comprehend the fact that living green and practicing sustainability is something I am learning and not second nature? Yes, these are questions that make me wonder about who I am and what I can do to leave something more behind me then an enormous carbon footprint in this world… Something that would make them feel proud of the legacy they have left behind them as well…
At the moment, the steps I am taking still seem small and insignificant to me, but all of them have enriched my life, giving it a deeper sense of value, and purpose. In my journey, towards eating local, living greener, and incorporating more sustainable practices into my life, I have found that there is truly something to be said for bed linens that have been washed and dried in the sun, on a breezy day. Borrowing books from the library has led me to discover some wonderful authors of yesterday. Authors whose books are not mentioned on a Best Seller’s list, yet their charm can capture my interest and imagination for hours.
In making my own green cleaning products, I have discovered the joy of always having beautiful jars full of fresh cut herbs from the garden, immersed in vinegar, and left to steep in a sunny windows through out my home. Using them makes cleaning days feel more like an aroma therapy session and less like a chore.
Seeking out local foods has led me to some of the most amazing people and scenic places in my community. Purchases are often more colorful, flavorful, and far more decadent then anything I could ever hope to find in a brick and mortar retail store.
Through reducing the amount of packaging I am purchasing and sending to a landfill, I have indulged in the pleasure of having artesian bars of soap nestled in a soap dish near every sink in my home. Silky and aromatic, I savor the task of washing my hands several times through out the day.
However, in all of the baby steps I have taken towards a life that preserves the future, none can compare to the sense of pleasure I have received by learning how to can and preserve a taste of the local seasons, especially the best crop of strawberries that Ohio has seen in years.
As the much anticipated, celebrated, yet short lived strawberry season comes to a close in my region I still feel elated, knowing that I was successful in canning homemade strawberry jam for the first time. Several pounds of brilliant red berries were hand picked at a local Pick Your Own Farm by myself and my husband, brought home, and transformed into several rows of sparkling Ball Jars filled of the most amazing jam we have ever encountered.
Knowing that they are all tucked safely away on a sturdy shelf in my cool, dry basement is a thrill of its own and I am already considering what a pleasure it will be to share my recyclable half pint jars full of concentrated happiness with friends and family.
The process was simple and no where near as daunting as one might think, so if strawberries are in season in your corner of the world, I highly recommend that you find a Pick Your Own Farm and get out in the field to pick strawberries. Don’t hesitate to try your hand at preserving the uniquely fresh flavors that are found within a few miles of your own backyard. You might just be surprised to discover a new passion and pleasure through the process.
4 Cups hulled and crushed ripe strawberries (About 2 quarts of whole berries)
2 Tablespoons of fresh strained lemon juice
7 Cups of Sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 (3-ounce) Pouch liquid Pectin
In an 8-quart pan, combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Cover and let stand for 2 hours.
Remove the cover. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.
To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute or so to distribute the fruit. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200 degree water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.