I have been canning for 28 years but have yet to win a single Blue Ribbon for my efforts. This is due in part to the fact that I have never entered any contests, but even if I had, I seriously doubt my canning results would warrant any ribbon, blue or otherwise.
When I can I am concerned with two things, taste and making something healthier than can be bought in the store. I don’t follow recipes as written most of the time because usually they call for more sugar than I want to us and many require wait time for liquids to clarify. You would be hard pressed to find a jar of jelly or syrup in my pantry that is not cloudy. This is for two reason: First and foremost, I like to have some pulp in my jellies and syrups because I believe this produces a tastier product and when I press liquid through cheesecloth, a sieve, or process through a food mill, I want every last drop of liquid I can get from whatever fruit I am using. The pulp doesn’t change the consistency of the end product, but the pressing does make it nearly impossible to end up with a clear jar of jelly or syrup. Second, I am impatient.
The second project I decided to work on with the strawberries I picked this week was based on a recipe from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt, Raspberry-Strawberry Jelly. I say based on because although some of the ingredient measurements are the same, I changed up the procedures, amount of sugar and thickening agent. I didn’t want to lose any of the fresh strawberry or raspberry flavors by clarifying the juices or cover up the taste of the berries with a ton of sugar. And if you’ve read any of my previous posts on canning jams or jellies you know I’m a Clear Jel kind of canner.
To Make Juice:
7 Cups Sliced Strawberries
7 Cups Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
1/2 Cup Water
5 Cups Juice
4 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
7 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 7 Tbsp. Water
- Place fruit and water in large stock pot. Bring fruit to boil and boil uncovered 10 minutes. Remove cooked fruit from heat and puree with stick blender. Run pureed fruit through food mill or fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Press to extract as much juice as possible.
- Return strained fruit juice to stock pot adding sugar and lemon juice. Heat over medium-high heat to near boil. Stir in Clear Jel slurry and bring to full boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, ladle into hot jars and process in water bath for 10 minutes
- This recipe made seven 8 ounce jars plus one 4 ounce jar.
I called my version of this a “spread” rather than a jelly because the consistency with the Clear Jel is easier to spread than I consider a true jelly to be. Since starting to use Clear Jel for 95% of my jams and jellies, I won’t even consider using something that would produce an end result of something that tears up bread when I try to spread it. The only exception to this rule might be cranberry sauce but even then I’m willing to forego the cranberry ‘mold’ option and just spoon it out of the jar. It tastes the same and actually being able to spread it on a turkey burger is more important than having it slide out of the jar in one chunk.
My canning might never earn me any “Blue Ribbons” from a local county fair, but having Hubby finish off an entire jar this morning on his breakfast crepes says more than winning any contest ever could, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.