So, in the midst of dealing with the Final Pass (the last chance to see the book before it goes to the printer), I was itching to make some strawberry jam. For some reason, this was the worst, absolute worst, round of edits. I have no idea why, but other writers have concurred, so I feel okay saying it out loud here.
Now that it’s over, I am going to clean my office (I have a NEW DESK!), read a crime drama, and make some jam, just for fun.
Last weekend, I made some strawberry jam and Instagrammed and Facebook’ed the process. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done. The kitchen was a disaster. I was jumping from phone to computer because I didn’t plan a thing. I practically passed out trying to get the jam to set, the canning timed, and tried valiantly to get the “ping” which did not happen.
The whole thing was pretty hilarious behind the scenes. With some careful editing, I’ve put together the whole stream in three short video clips. Because I am the Wilma Flintstone of video editing, I can’t figure out how to put text on the clips….
Making Strawberry Jam
Select 3 pounds of strawberries. About one-quarter should be under-ripe. Stem and hull the berries and crush them in a large bowl with 3 cups of sugar and the juice of one lemon. Add herbs if you wish. Mint, thyme or lemon verbena work – no more than four or five stalks. Cover and refrigerate until the next day.
Bring a large deep pot of water to a boil. The recipe will make 3-1/2 or 4 half pint jars of jam. Boil the jars in the water for at least 10 minutes. Leave them in the hot water until you’re ready to fill.
Pour the strawberry mixture into a colander set inside a heavy bottomed 5 quart or larger pot. Remove the colander and set inside a bowl to catch any remaining syrup.
Bring the syrup to 220F. (The video shows the boil at 190°F, then at 210°F, and finally at 220°F.) At 220°F, the boil is so strong, it’s called “the boil that will not stir down.”
Add the berries and stir well. Bring back to that big robust boil that will not stir down. Get a small saucepan of water boiling. Add the rings. Turn the heat off under the saucepan and add the lids to soften the rubber gasket.
Cook at that strong boil until the foam has nearly cleared and the jam is set. Add a pinch (about 1/2 teaspoon) of butter to polish it and remove the foam. Stir until the foam is gone (don’t scrape the sides of the pan or the bottom.)
Ladle the jam into the sanitized jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Clean the rim of each jar well then add a new lid. Finger tighten the ring (the rings may be reused). Lower the jars upright into the canning kettle, covering them by 1 inch of water (add the extra from the saucepan – it’s already been heated to a boil) and, once the water is back to a robust boil, set the timer for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water bath and set them upright on a towel. Listen for the pinging noise telling you the seal has formed. Let the jars cool completely before labeling, dating and storing in a cool, dark spot for up to one year.
C’mon, make some strawberry jam this weekend.
Look at the W. W. Norton booth at the Book Expo. OMG, it’s real!