Tennessee Strawberry Jam

by Susan Jarrett

It is Spring time in the South and you know what that means! It’s strawberry season! Just up the road a piece is a farmer who has been cultivating strawberries in the valley nearly all his life! People travel in from as far away as Johnson City, TN and Atlanta, GA to purchase his fresh strawberries straight from the fields!

Fresh Tennessee Strawberries means Spring in the Valley!

It has become a hallmark of Spring for us to make the short trek up the valley to get our share. And we always bring home an extra flat or two for jam! Friends and family have come to expect a bit in their holiday packages each December. Homemade strawberry jam is a lovely year end reminder of nature’s seasonal bounty. So let’s get started!

For strawberry jam, you will need the following:

  • 5½ cups crushed strawberries (about 3 one quart boxes of strawberries)
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Heavy Botton stock pot (pots such as enamel ware are too thin)
  • 9- 10 half-pint sterilized jars with lids
  • Water bath canning equipment
  • Time needed: about 1.5 hours (including processing time)

Here are the steps:

1. Prepare the fruit. Sort and wash fully ripe strawberries; remove stems and caps. Crush your berries. (I use a food processor but you can also cut the berries into small pieces or crush by hand- depending on what consistency you wish your jam to have.)

Pureed Strawberries make the most delicious color!

2. To make jam. Measure crushed strawberries into a kettle. Add pectin and stir well. Place on high heat and, stirring constantly, bring quickly to a full boil with bubbles over the entire surface. Add sugar, continue stirring, and heat again to a full bubbling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim.

Strawberry jam just before boiling point

3. Fill your sterile jars. Fill hot jam immediately into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 5-8 minutes.

And when you are done, you have some gorgeous jam to save and to share.

Here are some very important notes about making jam with pectin:

1. Be sure you use a large kettle for boiling your jam. Anything made with added pectin will expand! You will need about 2-3x kettle space to be safe. I made this mistake once. I used a pot that was too small and I accidentally started a kitchen fire on my range when the pectin began to expand and boiled over the rims of the pot. The sugar in the jam caught fire on the eye of the stove and immediately began to flame! Fortunately, I had a fire extinguisher in my kitchen and was able to put it out quickly.

2. NEVER leave jams unattended on the stove top. As soon as the jam hits the right temperature, the pectin will start to expand rapidly! Continual stirring will cause the pectin expand less rapidly.

3. Pay attention to the type of pectin you use. Liquid pectin is typically added last whereas powdered pectin needs to be added in the beginning.

If you have any questions about the recipes on my blog, or just want to learn more about home canning, check out this favorite source for all things food preservation!

Strawberry tops make yummy bunny treats!

You can also freeze fresh strawberries by washing them and drying them thoroughly with a clean cloth. Place strawberries on cookie sheets and place in the freezer overnight. Freezing is the most efficient way to lock in all the yummy vitamins and nutrients found only in fresh fruit. However freezing requires lots of space. Strawberries will last 5-10 days in the fridge at 32/F.

Enjoy! And Happy Spring!

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