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making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

open-air canning demo

smile!

smile!

Since Can It!  was released last summer, I’ve been asked to do a number of canning demonstrations. I’ve been in a hardware store, a community center, my own kitchen — but never a setting as pretty as the one last night at Wind Hill Farm in Glastonbury, Connecticut. As part of their mission of community outreach and education, they asked me if I would do a canning demo. I packed up my canning gear along with two butane burners and set up shop in a lecture area situated among the many raised bed garden plots. It really was an idea setting for promoting local and seasonal produce! Six eager and willing students showed up and together we made a simple, but very yummy blueberry jam. Despite the threat of passing shower, we finished our jam and everyone took home a jar to enjoy.

blueberry jam

sea of blueberries

sea of blueberries

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 3 lbs. fresh blueberries, washed, drained, and crushed to make 4 C.
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 4 C. cane sugar
  • 1 box dry pectin
  • 1/4 teasp. ground cinnamon (if desired)

Steps

  1. Prepare containers and water bath canner.
  2. Measure sugar and set aside.
  3. Prepare the fruit; measure exactly; add lemon juice.

    can't you just taste it?

    can’t you just taste it?

  4. Pour fruit into pot and stir in pectin, mixing in thoroughly. Add cinnamon, if desired.  Add about ½ teas. of butter or margarine to reduce foaming (if desired).
  5. Bring the mixture quickly to a full boil (rolling boil that can’t be stirred down). Add sugar all at once, stirring well to dissolve, and return to a full, rolling boil. Be careful here, the syrup is very hot and can easily spatter.
  6. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Time exactly from when the mixture returned to a full boil.
  7. Remove from heat, skim off foam, ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4″ head space.
  8. Process to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canning cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove jars from canner, place in a draft-free location to cool completely. Let sit for 24 hours.
  10. Test for seal (lids will be concave and have high-pitched “ping” sound). Remove bands, wipe thread. Label, date, and store for up to one year in dark, cool location.
you can buy your local strawberries

you can buy your local strawberries

 

hurry, season almost over!

...or pick your own as I did with my granddaughter

…or pick your own as I did with my granddaughter

Okay, no excuses here. Somehow the month of June has — or is — slipping past me all too quickly. Strawberries here in Connecticut were a bit late this year due to the cool spring. Then, the past week, we’ve had tropical summer temperatures. According to local farm stands, the berries will disappear within the next few days. So, here’s something that you can do to quickly capture the local strawberry experience all winter long. I stress local because in my taste bud’s opinion, there is simply no point in strawberries unless they are local and in season. The others may be beautiful, but they are generally all for show. Bred to be large, beautiful, and easily transported. Okay, enough sermonizing. Here’s the plan: strawberry freezer jam!

strawberry freezer jam — kid’s play

This really is a great activity to share with your favorite little one!

This really is a great activity to share with your favorite little one!

In my Can It! book, I have a recipe for strawberry freezer jam and tell how I used to make this with my kids when they were preschool age. Well, now I’m making it with my preschool grandkids. It’s that easy. I made a batch last weekend and timed myself. From start to finish — including all prep and clean up , everything back in its place and six lovely jars of jam waiting to freeze — took me about fifty minutes. That’s less time than going to the store to buy some jam. And the flavor of freezer jam is amazing. Because you don’t cook the berries, they keep their full, fresh, just-picked flavor. (Sounds like a commercial, doesn’t it, but it’s true.)

recipe for strawberry freezer jam

Yield: 5-6 half-pints Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed strawberries (just about a quart)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 box (1.75 oz.) dry pectin (such as Sure-Jell or Certo)
  • 3/4 cup of water (or the amount required on the pectin that you purchase)

method

  1. Thoroughly wash and rinse freezer containers. Straight-sided plastic in one- and two-cup sizes are best, but glass jelly jars can also be used as long as you leave sufficient head space, i.e, room at the top for expansion.
  2. Thoroughly wash berries and remove and compost stems. Cut in halves or quarters to make mashing easier.
  3. Measure exact amount of sugar.
  4. Mash the strawberries and measure exact amount. Do not use a blender, a potato masher is perfect. You want the jam to have some texture.
    4b: Here are the berries mashed up

    4b: Here are the berries mashed up

    4a. Mash the strawberries, one layer at a time. here I'm just starting.

    4a. Mash the strawberries, one layer at a time. here I’m just starting.

  5. Add the sugar to the mashed strawberries; stir until it’s mixed together, and let it stand for ten minutes.

    5. Stir until the sugar and berries are completely mixed. I've still got a ways to go here.

    5. Stir until the sugar and berries are completely mixed. I’ve still got a ways to go here.

  6. Dissolve dry pectin in water and boil for one minute.
  7. Add the pectin/water mixture to the fruit/sugar mixture and stir constantly for three minutes. The sugar should be pretty well dissolved, though you may see a few grains.

    8. Pouring jam into my jelly jars. I use my canning funnel to make it easier.

    8. Pouring jam into my jelly jars. I use my canning funnel to make it easier.

  8. Put the jam in straight-sided freezer containers, being sure to allow one-half inch headspace for expansion when frozen. Put top on containers.
  9. Let it stand at room temperature until set, usually twenty-four hours.
  10. Label and date. Store in refrigerator for three weeks or in freezer for up to one year. Trust me, you’ll eat them way before then! When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator. When you spread it on your morning toast, you’ll be transported back to summer.
9. Let stand for up to 24 hours, until jam is set.

9. Let stand for up to 24 hours, until jam is set.

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