But We Don’t NEED Anymore Strawberry Jam!

Where is it written that you can only make something when you NEED it? I mean honestly, just because I have a pantry with 2015 jars of strawberry jam still on the shelves, does this automatically mean I can’t make some 2016 jars?

Isn’t there something about fresh-from-the-pot strawberry jam on lightly toasted bread or a hot from the oven biscuit that can’t be duplicated, even in home-canned strawberry jam. Sure I love my canned goods and am grateful the pantry is brimming with more than 70 different jams, jellies, preserves, and spreads, but given the opportunity to make a fresh batch to eat straight from the pot, I’m just going to have to do it.

This year I didn’t plan on making jam, but once those berries were safely home and sitting on the counter, filling the kitchen with their sweet smell, something came over me and I found myself whipping up a batch and then two.

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Never fear though, the first batch was gone within hours (given away and eaten) and the second batch isn’t going to make it the pantry. Changing up last years recipe a bit yielded a jam so good, I can’t keep it from being devoured. Check out my post at Simply Grateful Canning for Strawberry Jam.

The rest of the berries were frozen or dehydrated or eaten. It’s amazing how fast 20 pounds of berries can get used up. Maybe I’ll have to head out for another 20 pounds or so. I don’t really NEED them or anything, but where is it written…

And for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

 

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2015 Strawberry Canning #5 – Brandied Strawberry Jam

Although I love the old standard Strawberry Jam and always look forward to tasting that first hot spoonful every summer just as soon as it begins to gel in the pan, there is something to be said for spicing it up every now and then.

I am not much of a drinker in any sense of the word. Alcohol has never been something I find myself craving or even wanting. That isn’t to say I have never had a drink or tasted various liqueurs and wines, but I am one of those people affected by alcohol in a negative way. Wine and champagne give me an instant migraine, I do not like the taste of beer, hard liquor is only something I would consider using in cooking where appropriate, and liqueurs — well I do have to say I do enjoy using these in many desserts, but by the time I am done either cooking it or flambe with it, most of the alcohol is gone.

When I came across a recipe for strawberry jam with a touch of brandy in it however, it piqued my interest. The one liquor I do use throughout the year  is brandy. There are many opportunities to use it especially during the holidays when preparing mincemeat and plum pudding. I don’t like the taste of the brandy by itself, but the combination of brandy with dried fruits and spices makes my mouth water. So, hoping that combining a bit of brandy with a suculent strawberry preserve would produce something a bit more decadent than the standard strawberry jam, I gave it a whirl.

Brandied Strawberry Preserves

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4 Cups Quartered Strawberries

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Brandy, divided

4 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed with 4 Tbsp Cold Water

1 tsp. Vanilla

  • Combine strawberries, sugar and 3 Tbsp. brandy in heavy stock pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium high and stir in Clear Jel slurry. Bring to boil while stirring constantly and boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat; stir in remaining brandy and vanilla. Ladle into jars and cool to room temperature.
  • Cover and keep in refrigerator or freeze.
  • This recipe made 4 – 8 oz. jars.

The first jar was eaten the same day on bagels with cream cheese. I swear everyone in the family came out of the woodwork for this one.

The second jar was confiscated by my father when he just happened to stop by after I’d finished jarring it.

The third jar went to my neighbors whose absolute favorite jam is strawberry and I just had to get their opinion on it. I got the empty jar back within two days – that spoke volumes.

The fourth jar…well, don’t tell anyone but it is hidden deep in the back of the refrigerator, behind an expired container of sour cream that I know no one is going to throw out because there is an unwritten rule in my house that no one but me can throw anything away in the refrigerator because you just never know what might happen (I’d love to find out, but apparently this is something far to complicated for Hubby and the kids). I’m saving this one for when a certain girl friend and I get together (hopefully soon!) so I can get her opinion.

The only thing I don’t like about this particular recipe is that it is a refrigerator/freezer jam and cannot be water bath canned. I understand why, because cooking/heating it after the last of the brandy is added might eliminate the hint of brandy that laces every bite, but this means it is going to be far harder to store. Freezer and refrigerator space is always scarce around our house, so storing an abundance of this preserve is not going to happen.

Changing things up is a good thing, especially when it produces a decadent, mouth-watering, new take on Strawberry Jam, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Summer Canning Basics – Strawberry & Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Driving out to Blake’s Big Apple in Armada a little over a week ago to pick fresh Michigan strawberries, I could hardly wait to taste that first berry. Capturing that sweet flavor and canning it to enjoy all through the winter, I knew Strawberry Jam was at the top of my canning list. Last year I canned one batch of strawberry jam and one batch of strawberry jelly and ran out of both before the winter was half over. This year I was bound and determined not to allow that to happen.

Besides plain strawberry jam, I decided to try working with rhubarb. I am not a celery fan and because rhubarb resembles celery in looks, I had never tried it, let alone cooked with it. What a shame. After I got my first tart taste of rhubarb blended with the sweet strawberries, I was sorry I’d only bought four bundles of rhubarb while at Blake’s. This led to another trip to Blake’s a few days later and picking nearly 10 pounds of it, which actually turned out not to be enough. Next year I’ll pick at least 20 pounds, as I didn’t get to half of the rhubarb recipes I wanted to try.

Using Clear Jel as my thickener worked out great. I might increase the Clear Jel slightly for the strawberry jam, but the second version of the strawberry-rhubarb jam the amount was perfect. I made two versions of the strawberry-rhubarb because the strawberry flavor was too overwhelming in the first. The second version is much tarter and the rhubarb flavor was far more intense. Here are my recipes.

Strawberry Jam

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8 Cups Sliced Strawberries = 5 1/2 Cups Crushed
5 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
5 Tablespoons Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 Cup Water

Crush berries in large stock pot.
Add sugar, lemon juice, and dissolved Clear Jel.
Bring slowly to a boil.
Boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
Pack into hot jars, seal and boil in water bath for 10 minutes.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (Version 1)

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2 1/2 Cups Crushed Strawberries
1 3/4 Cups Chopped Rhubarb (I dice mine)
5 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
5 Tablespoons Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 Cup Water

Crush berries in large stock pot.
Dice Rhubarb.

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Combine strawberries and rhubarb.
Add sugar, lemon juice, and dissolved Clear Jel.

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Bring slowly to a boil.
Boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
Pack into hot jars, seal and boil in water bath for 10 minutes.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (Version 2 – Tart)

3 Cups Crushed Strawberries
3 Chopped Rhubarb (I dice mine)
4 Cups Sugar
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
5 Tablespoons Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 Cup Water

Crush berries in large stock pot.
Dice Rhubarb.
Combine strawberries and rhubarb.
Add sugar, lemon juice, and dissolved Clear Jel.
Bring slowly to a boil.
Boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
Pack into hot jars, seal and boil in water bath for 10 minutes.

I can’t believe I waited more than 45 years to try rhubarb. Why oh why was I so closed-minded? Well, I am definitely going to remedy this, starting this year. With two batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam in the pantry, we should be set for the winter. Plus, I just had to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie which then led to canning strawberry-rhubarb pie filling, those recipes coming tomorrow. Thanks Caitlin from The Babbling Botanist (http://thebabblingbotanist.com/2014/04/21/strawberry-rhubarb-jam/) for your recipes using rhubarb which inspired me to give this a try, for this I am — Simply Grateful.