It is Strawberry season here in Virginia and now is the time when all the you-pick farms are open. I found a farm close to us using PickYourOwn.org, check it out and see what's growing near you.
We picked A LOT... four gallons. Each gallon bucket was $8.50 and when full weighed about 5.5 lbs. It was a ton of fruit. I had plans for all this fruit, plans that involved pretty little jars, sugar, and pectin. You guessed it... JAM!
This was my first time making jam, so I went the easy route and made freezer jam. For 5.5 lbs of strawberries I used 3 cups of sugar and 8 tablespoons of instant pectin. This filled 11 8-ounce jars (be sure to use freezer-safe jars).
The instructions on the jar of pectin (I used Ball Instant Pectin and used the recipe on the inside of the label) said to use a potato masher to prepare the strawberries. This was a bad idea.
So I gave the mixer a shot. Also a bad (and messy) idea.
Finally I moved to the food processor and the jam was well on its way. This is when I learned something about hulling a strawberry.
It's not enough to cut the top off, you have to cut in to remove all the white part (the hull... duh). If you don't hull them properly, you'll be left with nice jam with weird white things throughout that don't taste like anything good.
Once the strawberries are ready (5.5 lbs made 7.5 cups of processed strawberries), mix the sugar and pectin in a large bowl. To this, add the strawberries and stir for 3 minutes. Once thoroughly mixed, ladle into jars, place lids, and let it sit for 30 minutes before putting it in the freezer (good for 1 year) or refrigerator (good for 3 weeks).
This stuff is good. So good that we ate 3 jars in 24 hours. I ended up making more with the remaining strawberries and we should be set for a good while. I'm very excited to now have a freezer stocked of delicious, homemade organic jam for very little out of pocket.
Anthony used some of our jam to make my Mother's Day breakfast. He made my favorite... my mom's strawberry french toast. Here's the recipe:
Strawberry French Toast
1/3 c milk
1 1/2 T sugar
1/4 t vanilla
2 T butter
Fresh strawberries, sliced
French or Italian bread, cut into 1" slices
Mix egg, milk, vanilla, and sugar in shallow bowl. Melt butter in pan on medium or medium-high heat. Dip bread in egg mixture and turn to coat. Put on skillet and brown lightly on both sides. Garnish with preserves and strawberries and dust with sugar.