The strawberries are finally ready in Vermont! We took full advantage of this and visited a local organic berry farm. Over 11 lbs of strawberries later, some serious jamming had to be done. I made two batches of preserves, the first is outlined below and the second was a variation in which I added some frozen blueberries that we picked last summer.
We are not big fans of sugary fruit in this household, so I kept the added sugar to a minimum and used some maple syrup for additional flavor. I’d much rather taste my strawberries slightly sweetened than taste strawberry flavored sugar.
14 cups fresh strawberries (cleaned, whole)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup pure VT maple syrup
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)
1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, add all of the above ingredients. As the mixture warms, mash with a potato masher. The berries get easier to mash as the mixture warms (but the warming increases the chance of splattering). Bring the berries up to a boil and reduce to a summer for about 30-45 minutes or until thick. Remove foam with a spoon, if needed. To test the readiness of the jam, use the spoon test, plate test, or temperature test. Check out this great how-to guide to determine when your preserves are jellied.
2. In a separate pot, bring 4-5 pint-sized mason jars to a boil. Sterilize for 10 minutes. The number of jars needed will depend on natural pectin and simmering time of the berries.
3. Pour jam into sterilized jars leaving about a 1/2 inch head space. Clean rim and top with a sterilized and unused lid (keep in boiling/hot water until use). Tighten the lid ring lightly and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.
4. Remove, let cool, listen for the POP (my favorite part), and enjoy whenever you need a fresh berry taste! Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.