What a fantastic, Spring-y week this was! I was happy to spend time outside (with dirt on my hands) and inside, with the windows open. Even during the rainy times, it was just peaceful to hear the "tap-tap-tapping" on the windows and roof.
This is the time, most every year, that I make homemade strawberry jam. You can get nice, fat red berries for 99 cents/lb or less at the grocery store quite consistently; the small, homegrown ones are REALLY good, but since you add so much sugar to them to make the jam, I prefer using the large, store-bought ones. They are just easier/faster to clean and prepare.
I started with a 4 lb. box of strawberries, which I cleaned in a sink-full of cold water. Then I simply cut off any bad/white spots and the stems.
I decided to puree them in my new food processor instead of slicing them. If you like a slightly chunky jam, you can slice them or use a pastry cutter to crush them. As they cook, they will break down more.
Mmmm... and nice, smooth strawberry puree! What a time-saver!
I did a little bit of math and adapted the recipe found in my trusty Better Homes cookbook. To my largest stockpot, I added the strawberry puree (which was approx. 7 cups from the cleaned 4 lbs of berries), a 4 lb bag of white sugar, a Tbsp butter, and two 1.75 oz. boxes of Sure-Gel (pectin). Stirring pretty consistently, I brought it to a boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
(Note: Make sure you use a large enough pot while cooking the jam, and continue to stir often. If you fail to do this, it will probably boil over...I had this happen ONCE and it is a horrible, sticky mess to clean up)
Using a wide-mouth funnel (found with the canning supplies), fill your clean jars up to 1/4 inch of headspace. For jam, I prefer to use half-pint jars, but pints will work in a pinch. Wipe the rim of the jar clean, apply the lid/band. Process in a boiling hot water bath for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. (This is how I do it, following my trusty, 8-year-old cookbook. USDA guidelines for home-canners change, so check their website for the most recent recommendations).
Whenever I can something, I always set the hot, processed jars on dishtowels, then cover with another dishtowel as they cool. (This is how my family did it ☺). There is nothing more exciting than hearing all of the little "pop"s as the jars seal themselves. From all of my berries, I think I made approximately 8 pints-worth of jam. I calculate it cost about $1.11 per pint to make ☺