Jun 15, 2011

{Berry Picking and Jam Making}

What are summers made for, you ask?  My answer would be: sunshine, swimming, friends and family, berry picking and jam making. 

My grandma Joan always had homemade jam from the berries that she grew in her garden.  I remember her picking red raspberries from the bushes and then turning them into jam in the summers when I was a kid. 

We always had homemade yeast rolls (which I still do not know how to make), real butter, and her homemade raspberry jam at Thanksgiving.  It was the best. 

Recently, my mother taught me the secret to making her jam.  Up until now, I made cooked jam using the Sure-Gel recipe in the box of pectin.  It was good, but I was always worried about the sterilizing and sealing of the jars, and then I would stress about if the jam was setting correctly.  Just last week, I had a failed batch of cooked jam because it didn't set (but I fixed it, which I explain at the end of this post). 

Now, I make freezer jam...and it is so easy, takes no cooking, and the jam has a fresh berry taste.  It's what my grandma used to do, and if it was good enough for her, then it's good enough for me!

First, I pick my berries at Spencer's Berry Farm in Noblesville, IN.  It's an awesome U-Pick farm that has berries and other goodies all summer long.  I want to start my own berry patch here at the house, but our "to-do" list is quite long, and a berry patch isn't a priority right now.

Wash and de-stem your berries.  I usually fill a bowl with cool water and soak them.  This method seems to really get the berries nice and clean.

I do sterilize my jars, even though with freezer jam it isn't totally necessary.  I just boil my glass jars and let them air dry on a towel.  I have also used the plastic freezer jam jars that Ball has in the canning section of the grocery.  They are nice, easy to use, and stackable in your freezer.

Once the berries are clean, I crush them with a potato masher.  I like my jam kind of chunky, so I don't mash too much.  Once the berries are smashed, I follow this recipe (which comes right from the jar of the instant pectin):
  1. Mix together 2 tablespoons of Ball Instant Pectin and 2/3 cups of granulated sugar or Splenda (this makes a dry mixture) in a bowl.
  2. Add  1 2/3 cups of crushed berries to the dry pectin and sugar mixture.
  3. Stir for 3 minutes
  4. Ladle into jars.
  5. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy right away or freeze for later.
Freezer jam will last for about a year in your freezer, if it's not eaten first!

Photo shoot crasher...

"More toast and jam, please!"  The jam doesn't last long in our house!

*Tip:  You MUST use the instant pectin for this no cook method, not the classic (which requires cooking).*

How I fixed my cooked jam:
  1. Mixed 1/4 cup of sugar with 2 tablespoons of instant pectin. 
  2. Pour the contents of 3 jars of jam into a clean bowl. 
  3. Slowly add the sugar and pectin mixture. 
  4. Stir for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Ladle into jars, and place in freezer.  This jam is no longer pantry shelf stable, and it will need to be frozen due to the compromised seals.

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