Sunday 6 July 2008


local vine-ripened strawberries make fabulous homemade jam

If everyone made strawberry jam, the world would be a better place.

Stick with me here on this one...okay? Home canning and preserving, now a somewhat lost art, is eco-friendly. Now, I know for a fact that none of my friends or family can or preserve foods. I realize my mom doesn't even know how to do this sort of stuff. I suspect my maternal grandmother knew how because she knew everything about food and how to prepare it.
I'm spearheading this canning/preserving local food thingy because someone's got to scream out the benefits of our local produce.

For goodness sake, making jam is COOL!

I don't have doilies on the back of my sofa. I'm a Jam-maker and I don't own wicker or have that "country" feel in my kitchen. I hate those ceramic cat knicknacks, red and white checked aprons with frilly white lace trim, and my kitchen doesn't have tiles with fruit images on them.
No offense btw if you do.

I'm an urban momma and I make Jam. There, I said it.

If everyone took a little wee step and made something like homemade locally grown strawberry jam, the world would be a whole lot better because we would be lessening our reliance on imported foods and the fossil fuels that deliver them. So, if you live in the Philippines, make mango jam and if you live in Sweden, make lingonberry jam. Hopefully this will lead to you making other stuff like tomato sauce and salsa! That's fun too!

Today, at Kin's produce market in Vancouver, the local strawberries were on sale for $2 for a huge box. The box must have weighed more than 3 pounds. They were discounted because they were extremely ripe. A bit of strawberry juice was pooling on the bottom of the boxes from the weight of the berries as they rested on top of each other. The berries had a little sign that said they should be consumed today. They weren't all too pretty-looking in general. Some of the berries were a bit bruised and soft looking but they were a deep, ruby red and fragrant. I bought two baskets and took them home to make Jam. these pics don't do the berries justice as i had to use the point-and-shoot. the colours are actually a ruby red.

I left them on the counter and took Bebe to the bookstore and upon arriving home, discovered that more than a cup of the berries were pilfered! A strawberry bandit had poked a hole into the plastic wrap of one of the boxes and a whole corner of the berries had disappeared

While we were out, Stomach couldn't resist the scent of the dark ruby red berries and had eaten them on the sly over the kitchen sink. When he stands over the sink eating something, he doesn't count that as a meal. He says he's just "tasting". Yeah right.

the batteries in my Nikon were dead, so i apologize for using my point-and-shoot Sony

I was miffed, but I guess in the end I had plenty to make jam with so I didn't sweat it too much. Even after eating more than a cup, I still had more than 12 cups of berries, I figured (for $4...crimey, that's cheap!) I sent him back to see if he could buy more, but he returned empty-handed, saying that they were all gone. No wonder. They were only $2 a box! 2 bucks! a toonie! As I hulled them and sliced them in preparation for jam-making, I noted how the deep red colour penetrated throughout to the berry's core. The California strawberries on display in the store next to the local strawberries were huge in comparison; they were not as deep red in colour and I know from experience that if I were to cut one open, I'd see a white core indicating how tasteless and watery they would be.My recipe for strawberry jam produces a soft jam. This way, I can use it for breakfast scones, croissants and toast, or I can pour it over cheesecake and ice cream. It's way more versatile. I used a traditional canning method that incorporates a whole lot of sugar and no additional commercial pectin. Once you've tasted homemade strawberry jam, you wonder why you would bother buying commercial again! It's so good and so cheap! If you do it every year, all you do is buy those sealing lids, because the jars and the rings can be reused and resterilized. So it's eco-friendly too! Stomach bought me two boxes (of 12 count) lids for $1.60 each. In the end, I had made 4 1-cup jars and about 27 mini half-cup jars of jam from this one purchase of strawberries. I have tons to give away and a lot of strawberry sauce as well to pour over homemade vanilla ice cream!

Poor Bebe and Bib. We're not allowing Bib to eat strawberries yet in case she's allergic. She tends to break out in eczema with some things, so we're playing it safe. Bebe is ready to try strawberries again and so we gave her a little jam straight off the spoon to see how she would react. When she was a toddler, she had broken out in eczema after eating one of those fruit leather snacks containing strawberry. She didn't react today after a spoonful of jam. She kept hopping up to see over the counter and asked for more, but I didn't want to let her overdose yet. She kept telling me how yummy it was and said she really like it. I told her if she didn't break out by the next morning, I'd give her some for breakfast on toast.

this makes a great sauce to pour over ice cream or cheesecake!

8 cups of sliced strawberries
6 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

  • Wash, hull and slice strawberries
  • Use a potato masher and slightly crush the berries in a large stockpot
  • Simmer over med-low heat for 10 minutes
  • Add sugar and lemon juice, stirring to dissolve
  • Increase heat to med-high and cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes more until thickened
  • Can using traditional canning methods. I sterilized jars, rings and lids, poured jam into jars, sealed as per manufacturer's instructions and boiled the jars for a further 10 minutes.


JumpinJude said...

Yay, another new jam maker! I just started in the last week, after taking a day-long class. So far we have 80 ounces of strawberry (which we picked at a local farm), and another 80 ounces of black raspberry jam from our own bushes. I am making at least another 80 ounces today... and like you, I am not stopping at jam. Next goal: Tomatoes! (But they have to ripen first!)

Cakebrain said...

I never took a course but just winged it and followed instructions in cookbooks (that and a lot of research.) I figure the best way to learn is to just jump in and give it a try. A course sounds like a good idea! In Vancouver, you can pick as many blackberries you want for free...they grow wild everywhere! I practiced my jam-making technique with blackberries for a few years and found it pretty rewarding! Yeah, tomatoes are my next goal but they are a lot of work compared to jam! Oh well, it's worth it!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you! The world would be a better place if everyone made their own jam once in a while! I love it. The end result is just amazing! I have the pectin and the jars, and with your inspiration I'm going to make my own jam! Thanks so much!

JumpinJude said...

Yep, in western NY we have both blackberries and black raspberries (often called 'blackcaps') wild and free for the picking. I used to pick the blackcaps and then we just decided to start planting fruit and veg anywhere we could on our property. I almost jumped in, but this class came to my attention at the last minute, so I figured why not? Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

That looks yummy! I just started making jam. On Friday we went to a pick-your-own strawberry farm and picked a gallon of strawberries, and on Saturday I made about eight half-pints of jam! It was way easier than I thought it would be. I'm hooked! Oh, and I agree, homemade is WAY WAY WAY better than anything you can buy in the store!

giz said...

Your jam looks out of this world. I just made some recently too - it is a happy undertaking. Mine was a little different 9cups strawberries to 4 cups sugar and I found it very sweet. Didn't you find it really sweet?

amanda said...

i am so happy you guys call it jam and not jello. looks delicious!

Cakebrain said...

girlcanbake: You go girl! make some jam and make the world a better place!
jumpinjude: don'tcha love it when things come together so perfectly?
fujikopez: Yay! another jam-making kindred spirit!
giz: actually, the jam tasted very fresh. It wasn't exceptionally sweet compared to store-bought jams. Perhaps the lemon juice had a hand in tempering the sweetness of the sugar. The processing time was quite short too so that helped with the fresh berry flavours. I think I added a couple cups more of berries than the 8 called for in the recipe becauase I was kind of generous in my measuring technique! I also have a freezer jam method that uses only half the amount of sugar too but my freezer is too jam-packed for any more storage!
amanda: jello? I call desserts made with gelatine, "jello" (as in the Bill Cosby brand!) I'm quite sure Canadians and Americans alike call it "jam". We call fruit preserves that are made using juice, "jelly" though. Is that what you're referring to? Such as in "peanut butter and jelly sandwich"? there aren't chunks of fruit in it and that's the only difference I can ascertain.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, what a strawberry score you made! My family loves having homemade strawberry jam, so I usually make enough to last the year. But some years I seem to miss the strawberry season. The local ones are gone so quickly!

Manggy said...

Hee, "stomach." Ha ha ha :P

Okay, you've sold me on making jam (that is cheating, though, $2 for 3 pounds of strawberries? *Local* strawberries from here cost about $3 for a half-pound!). No commercial pectin in these parts, though, looks like I'll have to rely on the natural pectin of mangoes :)

test it comm said...

Your strawberry jam looks great! Homemade strawberry jam s so good!

VM said...

Cakemaker, do you have an email address to contact you? I work in media and would like to talk with you.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your blog!! Made me laugh! And I am the same way as you described yourself. I love making jam, but I don't have any "country" decor or sing any Patsy Cline!
Cheers to all the jam makers!


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