Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jam This In Your Hole

Sweet Sweet End Product!
I really need to start taking pictures as I'm doing these things.  In my own defense, I usually just jump up and start doing them with no planning, soooooo.......

My Frozen Berries
I learned how to properly freeze fruits and berries the other day, and we had a whole bunch of strawberries in the freezer.  I'm not a huge fan of frozen strawberries, and the only way I would use em would be in a smoothie, and I really never get around to making those.....  However, I DO eat a lot of jelly and jam.  It's quick, it's cheap, and it tastes fricken good.  So I wondered, "Why can't I make jam?"  Well, I learned...... I can!  A surprisingly simple thing to make with shit I KNOW you have in your house already, well most people.  This makes a lot of jam.  So just be ready with a lot of jars.  You can cut down on the recipe too.  I wouldn't use huge jars to store it in either, smaller batches cool better and there is less chance it will spoil when opened.  SOOOO!

Mason Jar, Ring, Lid.  Guess which is which
Mason jars.  I use the smaller ones for reasons stated above.  Plus they are cheap.  And any good DIYer SHOULD have dozens of these laying around in various sizes.  They DO need to be mason type jars too.  I keep any glass jar or bottle that anything we buy comes in, no you cant use those.  Mason jars people.  New lids wouldn't hurt either....... The seal is important!

Strawberries.  I use ones we freeze that ate locally grown.  I love fresh fruit, but things like stawberries go bad so quick that freezing is the only way to go.  5 bucks for a flat of em.

Sugar.  Lots and lots of sugar.  I need to find a replacement that works as well and is locally produced.

Pectin.  Ok, you CAN make your own pectin, and I really really want to someday.  However.  Making pectin sucks.  And you use so many good apples!  And it's wildly inaccurate for measuring.  The only way to use your own pectin is to experiment with it to see if your jam comes out right.  Screw that noise.  It's five bucks for a jar that will last you awhile.  4 batches at least, and thats a lot of jam.  I know it sounds like I am making excuses, and maybe I am, but when it's something important like this, better to buy....  I hate saying that....

Lemon Juice.  I used the juice from one lemon.

Thats it folks.  The cooking process is kinda work intensive, but really worth it for what you get in the end.

Strawberry Jam

5 Cups of Sliced Strawberries
2.5 Tablespoons of Pectin (or one package if you bought em in pouches)
6 Cups of Sugar (I KNOW right?  BUT I dropped it from 7, and I think I can go lower....)
Juice of One Lemon
Pat of Butter

Tupperware I used and blender

Messy Messy Messy.  Thats what the title of this recipe should be.  The very first thing we are going to do is get the jars and lids ready.  This recipe requires a water bath, and you want your jars to be pretty warm when you pour the jam in, so fill up the huge pot your gonna use to seal the jars with water, line the bottom of the pan with small mason jar lids.  Put the jars your gonna use in and bring to a simmer.  Take the LIDS, not the RING of the top and simmer in a small sauce pan.  This gets the sealant nice and soft.  Let all this stuff simmer until you are ready to pour.
My Immersion or Wand Blender
Potato Masher
     Use a food processor, wand type hand mixer, one of those mashed potato crusher things....  Whatever.  Crush up those berries.  This is what I love about making your own too, leave chunks or make smooth.  You can make it as chunky as you want.  I like mine smooth, no chunks at all.  So I use my immersion blender and put all the sliced berries in a tall tupperware container and puree the shit out of em.  Cut the lemon up and squeeze the juice into the berries, all the juice.  Use a spoon to help.  Pour the pectin in too.  Mix up again.  pour all the mess into a preferably teflon coated pan, this makes clean-up soooooo much easier.  Bring the strawberry soup to a rolling boil.  Boiling so hard that it still boils when being stirred, and stir, and stir, and stir.  Constantly stir it.  Make sure you get it all off the bottom.  Scrape it!!!  At this point, put the pat of butter in.  This cuts down on the foam and thus cuts down on the labor, a lot.  When it's boiling, good, pour the sugar in.  All of it.  Keep stirring.  All that sugar will melt and it will be a goopy delicious sticky mess.  Stir stir stir until it comes to a rolling boil again.  Let it boil for a couple of minute, still stirring.  This is where the butter makes life easy.  There is a foam that forms on top of the hot jam.  You gotta spoon this stuff off.  The butter cuts down on the foam a lot, however, when you spoon the foam off, have a small bowl ready and put it in there instead of the trash.  This stuff is like gold!  It tastes sooooo good!  Try it, you wont be disappointed.  Turn the heat off.  Take the jars out of the simmering water and place on a towel on the counter.  Use a funnel, or freestyle pour if you got balls!  Fill the jars up until there is a quarter inch of space on top.  Take a clean cloth and dampen it.  Clean the edges of the jars so there is nothing on em, especially where the lid ring goes on.  Put the lids on.
Some of my product
     Sealing the jars is important.  It is what will allow them to sit on a shelf for a few months while you eat all this stuff!!  I'm gonna go through these steps from the beginning, so if I repeat myself, live with it.  Take a large stew pot and line the bottom with mason jar rings.  Fill up the pot with water.  Bring to a boil, heavy boil.  Put the filled and lidded jars in the boiling water.  I use tongs, but there are specialty jar holders out there.  Boil the jars for 10 minutes.  A lot of recipes say 5, but I do 10, just in case.  You just want to bring the internal temp up high enough to kill all the nasty shit that could have gotten in there.  Take your jars out after ten minutes and turn upside down onto the towel you laid out earlier.  Let sit till cool.  If the little button in the middle of the lit is depressed and wont pop back up, you got a sealed jar sucka, and it will keep for a loooooonnnnnggggggg time.

Listening to
The White Stripes
Ball and Biscuit

Let's have a ball and a biscuit sugar 
And take our sweet little time about it 
Let's have a ball girl 
I love these jars!

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