Strawberry jam, that wholesome favorite that has just never seemed to be far away in my life. If you're a breakfast or tea time person like I am, then I am sure you know what I mean. It's a quintessential item for the table, no doubt about it.
After many years of reading jam labels for contents: sugar, fake sugar, unknown items etc, I have finally decided to just make my own.
While this may sound like a large undertaking, in reality it's not really. After just a few minutes of searching online I discovered the ingredients were quiet simple.
- 4 lbs. of strawberries
- 3 tablespoons of agar agar flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I used lime)
- 1 1/4 cups of sugar (I used raw sugar)
Now of you are wondering why I used agar agar instead of the traditional pectin that canning recipes call for, the answer is sugar. A traditional recipe for 4 lbs of fruit calls for around 7 cups of sugar, which is way more then I wish to consume.
(Warning, science coming!) The way pectin works to jell is it binds to the sugar molecules. Agar agar is derived from sea weed and binds to calcium instead. (At least that's what I understand from reading various culinary documents about it, I'm no scientist).
So it's not much of a contest comparing pectin and agar agar for it's sugar needs in canning for me. I want to taste the natural fruit flavors, not the additional sugar.
Now on to the fun part, making the jam! I feel like the most time consuming process of the while ordeal is removing the green tops.
I like to set things up in an assembly line format.
Sterilizing jars, lids and bands in near boiling water.
Time to cook the berries for twenty minutes, stirring constantly!
After filling a dozen 8 oz jars, it was into the water bath and boiling water for ten minutes.
After pulling the jars put to rest on the counter, I think listening for the lids to "pop" for the seal creation is my favorite part of canning. Okay, other than my kitchen smells simply amazingly of strawberries.
Here are my jars all done and stored away. Sadly I was a short one jar, thus my odd sized jar.
Needless to say, only one whole day passed before I caved and opened up a jar. It's so tasty that I can't believe I have waited so long to try making my own. If I can help it in the future I believe I may never buy store bought jam ever again.