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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

Strawberries are in season! We have been enjoying them fresh or sliced with fresh whipped cream. But the strawberry season is so short that we really need to preserve them for winter enjoyment. The first things that come to mind are jam, drying and freezing. This lovely batch went to making a gourmet, low sugar jam.

Local Strawberries

It's been a rather cold and wet spring in our area so the berries are a bit smaller. Our strawberry bed has not been re-established since the move. There was a small bed here but it was overgrown and weaving through evergreens so that was one of the beds we had to remove. My last beds were producing almost 2 quarts per day not quite enough for a batch of jam. Like many I go to a local U-pick for strawberries for larger quantities when my beds are not producing enough. Picking your own is cheaper than buying the strawberries already picked. The current price for already picked strawberries is $15 per flat (16 quarts). I seldom pick my own there simply because I like to get the jamming done in the early morning before the day heats up. What I look for when buying strawberries from the U-pick aside of the quality of the berries themselves is the temperature of the berries. I usually hit this one before 9 am. If the berries are cold to the touch it means they were picked the day before then refrigerated overnight. I don't want those. The berries picked that morning don't feel chilled and have a better flavour for making jam.

The first thing that comes to mind when you mention canning to anyone is jam followed by pickles. The question whether you are saving money making jam always arises. The answer is both yes and no. If you are buying at a U-pick, yes you will save a bit but per jar the cost will not be as low as jam bought from a dollar store. However, what you are getting is a high end, gourmet type jam so in that respect you are getting a high quality product for about half the price of store bought.

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

My conventional recipe using regular pectin can be found here. here. For this recipe I use Pomona's Pectin for a few reasons. This pectin means you do not have to rely on sugar for the jam to set. That means I can use less sugar (cost savings) but end up with a higher quality fruit laden product. The down side is because unlike regular pectins that would call for 7 c of sugar per 5 c of fruit there is a lower yield. But that is more than acceptable for me given that I'm going after quality not quantity. This jam is well worth the extra costs.

I used organic sugar for this recipe. It was considerably less than the 7 c of sugar per 5 c of fruit the regular pectin called for. I only used 2 c of organic sugar per 4 cups. Even at that I think the next batch will be using 1½ c per 4 cups and I plan on making at least one batch using honey.

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

8 c mashed strawberries*
2 c organic sugar**
4 tsp Pomona's pectin
4 tsp calcium water

Wash, hull and mash berries.

* Four quarts of strawberries.
** A sugar substitute can be used for this recipe. If using Spenda, use the same amount of ¾ - 2 c per 4 c of prepared fruit. If using honey, use ½ - 1 c per 4 c prepared fruit. Add the calcium water to the fruit and stir well. Measure the sugar or honey into a separate bow. Mix the pectin with it. Bring the fruit to a boil. Add the pectin mixture stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Cook to dissolve pectin. Return to a boil then remove from the heat. Fill hot, sterilized jars leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims. Adjust tow piece lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner.

Yield 4 - 500 ml jars.

6 food lovers commented:

eastcoastlife said...

How wonderful to grow your own strawberries and made jam with them. The weather in Singapore doesn't permit the growing of strawberries. They are usually imported and so it is very expensive to make our own jam. It would be lovely to have homemade jam. :)

Garden Gnome said...

Fresh strawberries from the garden are a lovely treat! It's a shame you can't grow them.

LindaG said...

Does the Pomona's pectin make the calcium water?
If I have no choice but to use store berries, will I still be able to make a worthwhile jam or should I not bother until I can go to a Farmer's Market. :)

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Linda :) Pomona's pectin comes with enough monocalcium phosphate to make the amount of calcium water needed for the entire amount of pectin along with instructions. You only make up a small amount of the calcium water that lasts quite awhile before having to make up more.

If you ask where you buy your berries they will tell you when they come in so buy as early as possible on that day. Depending on where you are the berries will only be lasting another 4 or 5 days for local berries.

LindaG said...

Thanks for the information, Garden Gnome. Much appreciated! :)

Garden Gnome said...

You are quite welcome Linda :)