Yes, it is June in South Carolina and because of a warmer than usual Spring just about every project has made me sticky – sweaty for weeks. However, yesterday’s stickiness had to do with making jam – specifically strawberry! The berries started showing up at roadside stands about a month ago and I just decided to can them. Happily for me, it was a good idea to wait as they are really sweet and juicy now. They smelled so good in the car on the way home…
Here’s a tool that I have discovered that many people don’t recognize. It’s a strawberry huller. It only works on nice, ripe strawberries; the grocery store ones are usually crunchy and it’s easier to prepare them by slicing off the tops. The huller pulls the pithy part out, which is an unwelcome addition to jam. I googled strawberry hullers and there are many on the market, but this simple one is the one I use. I’m naming it the June Cool Tool.
This is not a good stove for canning. It has a glass top which I dislike for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Gizmo can walk on the stove top and turn one the burners on! The fan does not cover the entire stove top, so only the pots at the back are “exhausted”. And, because the microwave is over the fan, it is very low. When I am canning, I have to pull the pot of boiling water away from the exhaust cover in order to get the jars in. Dangerous!!! I am looking forward to a kitchen re-do in the future.
I do not make jam using pectin; I have discovered that what I like to make is called “old-fashioned” these days. Pectin is fine for jelly, but the reason I don’t like using it for jams is that there is no way to control the consistency. Jelly should be “stiff” and melt on your toast. I prefer jam to be on the runny side. In one book I was reading, the author did not like jams made without pectin and said because of the long cooking time involved, they tasted caramel-y and burnt. Perhaps it’s what you grow up with, but I like that flavor as well and the dark red color the berries turn after cooking so long.
I am smiling now. The happiest part of the canning process is tasting the results and I just had some jam for breakfast…..it was wonderful! Eating my jam on toast is a messy, delicious experience, with lots of finger licking after the last bite. I declare this to be a good batch and will label the jars and squirrel them away for Winter after I post this.
And then I must clean the sticky mess in the kitchen!