Strawberry Jam

I absolutely love this time of year! All the fresh goodies are sprouting up from the earth, being harvested and brought to our local markets!

Last week I took my six year old strawberry picking for the very first time. I did this a lot with my mother growing up and want my daughter to have the same experience. There is nothing like fresh food picked with your own two hands. This was a local farm, just a few minutes from our house, and the first time I had visited it. I cannot say they are my favorite local berries but because they practice organic methods we will definitely return next year to experience picking.

Once home we cleaned this bucket of beauties, topped with organic sucanat, then let them marinate overnight for strawberry shortcake. The leftovers were frozen for more shortcake later on when they are out of season.

The next day I was able to pick up two flats of these "seconds" (yes you read the correctly, these luscious berries were Delvin Farm seconds!). Certified organic, their award winning strawberries are my first choice for jam. Another local farm, Kelly's Berries are also a favorite of mine.

The kitchen, jars and utensils were prepped. One of the easiest ways to sanitize new jars is to run them through the dishwasher, like this:

Once dry stack some jars into your oven, turn the temp to 210 degrees, and they will stay warm until you are ready to fill them. I used extra long tongs to pull them out and placed on the counter 9 at a time (each of my batches makes 9 8oz jars of jam).

I never double, I always make them in individual batches. By having everything prepped and my jars in a warm spot this went very quickly and I didn't feel pressured to double up. I did not keep the exact time but from mashing to filling to clean up afterwards I think I was done in five hours.

Next is filling. Now this can be tricky and it's wise to use a funnel. But mine was missing. I have no idea where the old yellow funnel disappeared to. It was given to me by my grandmother and it's nowhere to be found. So I had to rush to the closest store (Kroger) and this new collapsible funnel by Ball is the only thing they had. At almost $6 I about choked. But I had to get it. And boy is it amazing! It is THE BEST canning funnel ever. It cleans up easy, stores flat and most importantly has a wide top to ladle into so no spills after filling I placed the funnel into the next empty jar while topping the filled with the lid and rim.

And after all that hard work the final product was ready to set, thankfully every single jar sealed! There is just something about mason jars. I use them for a lot of things in my home. Storing coconut oil in the bathroom, school supplies in the "school room", marinades, salad dressings, candles, iced cold tea, milkshakes...their uses are endless. But nothing is sweeter to me than a pantry stacked with home grown, home canned food. 

I processed 60 jars on Sunday, but when I took this photo some had already been picked up, so this is a shot of 46 jars. No wonder I was tired Sunday night! I've never processed so much jam in one day!

Do you can during the spring and summer months? If so what do you make? Do you grow your own or buy local? Have any unique uses for your mason jars? Please comment and let me know!

This post is dedicated to my amazing mama (of five children) who taught me everything I know about cooking, baking and making jam. Love you mom!


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