Your Guide to Preserving the Season (Plus How to Make Strawberry Jam)

May 25, 2016
Whether you're shopping at the farmers' market or hitting up the pick-your-own farms this summer, you'll want this book to guide you through preserving the best of the season.
By 
Danielle DeSiato
Your Guide to Preserving the Season (Plus How to Make Strawberry Jam) | WGBH | Craving Boston

It’s farmers’ market season! If you’re like me, you just can’t resist all that beautiful local produce. And then you bring home way more than you can reasonably consume before it goes bad. Thankfully, this new book from the local pros at America’s Test Kitchen has the answer to the question, "What do I do with all of this when I get it home?"

Your Guide to Preserving the Season, Plus How to Make Strawberry Jam | WGBH | Craving BostonFoolproof Preserving is a comprehensive guide to “putting up” all that luscious seasonal produce so you can enjoy it long after the days start to get shorter again (but we’re not thinking about that right now!).

Your Guide to Preserving the Season, Plus How to Make Strawberry Jam | WGBH | Craving BostonWe're thinking about strawberries! Fresh local strawberries are about to burst onto the scene in a major way, so we’re giving you two tried-and-true recipes for easy and delicious strawberry jam from Foolproof Preserving. If you grab a few pints from your local farmers’ market, try the No-Commitment Strawberry Jam for a quick small batch. Or if you're planning a trip to a pick-your-own farm for pounds of the little gems, try the Classic Strawberry Jam recipe for canning the jam that you'll be so happy to have come winter. And if you’re as addicted to local produce as I am, you’ll want this book to guide you through jamming, pickling, fermenting, and generally preserving the best of the region, all season long.

No-Commitment Strawberry Jam

From the book Foolproof Preserving from America’s Test Kitchen
No-Commitment Strawberry Jam | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

The beauty of no-commitment jams lies in their simplicity. They generally make a small batch, which means you don’t need to invest in bushels of fruit, and there’s no need to process jars in boiling water for long-term storage; you can keep the two jars of jam the recipe makes in the fridge and finish them off in a few weeks. Also, a small batch of fruit will cook down quickly to the proper consistency, resulting in a vibrant and fresh-tasting jam. And because the cooking time is so short, there’s no danger that the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit won’t do its job (a risk when cooking larger batches). In addition to the pectin in the fruit itself, hefty doses of lemon juice and sugar help this jam set up perfectly. Crushing the strawberries with a potato masher before cooking jump-starts the release of pectin and further decreases the cooking time, ensuring maximum fresh fruit flavor. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools, so it’s best to err on the side of undercooking. Overcooked jam that is dark, thick, and smells of caramelized sugar cannot be saved.

Ingredients 
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut into ½-inch pieces (5 cups)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Notes 

Be sure to use bottled lemon juice, not fresh-squeezed juice, in this recipe or the jam might not set up properly. This jam cannot be processed for long-term storage.

Directions 

1. Place 2 small plates in freezer to chill. In large saucepan, mash strawberries with potato masher until fruit is mostly broken down. Stir in sugar and lemon juice and bring to boil, stirring often, over medium-high heat.

2. Once sugar is completely dissolved, boil mixture, stirring and adjusting heat as needed, until thickened and registers 217 to 220 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature will be lower at higher elevations.) Remove pot from heat.

3. To test consistency, place 1 teaspoon jam on chilled plate and freeze for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through jam on plate; jam has correct consistency when your finger leaves distinct trail. If runny, return pot to heat and simmer for 1 to 3 minutes longer before retesting. Skim any foam from surface of jam using spoon.

4. Meanwhile, place two 1-cup jars in bowl and place under hot running water until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; shake dry.

5. Using funnel and ladle, portion hot jam into hot jars. Let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until jam is set, 12 to 24 hours. (Jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.)

Classic Strawberry Jam (for canning)

From the book Foolproof Preserving from America's Test Kitchen
Classic Strawberry Jam (for canning) | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

Strawberry jam is a universal favorite. Naturally low in pectin, strawberries are often cooked too long, causing the fruit to lose its bright flavor. We shortened the cooking time by cutting the strawberries into smaller pieces and then mashing them to release their juices and jump-start the cooking process. Shredded apple added natural pectin and fresh flavor to the mix. Lemon juice added acidity to balance the sugar’s sweetness and helped the natural pectin to gel. Small, fragrant berries produce the best jam. For safety reasons, be sure to use bottled lemon juice, not fresh-squeezed juice, in this recipe.

Ingredients 
3 pounds pounds strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (10 cups)
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups peeled and shredded Granny Smith apple (1 large apple)
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Notes 

Do not try to make a double batch of this jam in a large pot; it will not work. Rather, make two single batches in separate pots.

Directions 

1. Place 2 small plates in freezer to chill. Set canning rack in large pot, place four 1-cup jars in rack, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to simmer over medium heat, then turn off heat and cover to keep hot.

2. In Dutch oven, crush strawberries with potato masher until fruit is mostly broken down. Stir in sugar, apple, and lemon juice and bring to boil, stirring often, over medium-high heat. Once sugar is completely dissolved, boil mixture, stirring and adjusting heat as needed, until thickened and registers 217 to 220 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. (Temperature will be lower at higher elevations.) Remove pot from heat.

3. To test consistency, place 1 teaspoon jam on chilled plate and freeze for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through jam on plate; jam has correct consistency when your finger leaves distinct trail. If runny, return pot to heat and simmer for 1 to 3 minutes longer before retesting. Skim any foam from surface of jam using spoon.

4. Place dish towel flat on counter. Using jar lifter, remove jars from pot, draining water back into pot. Place jars upside down on towel and let dry for 1 minute. Using funnel and ladle, portion hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Slide wooden skewer along inside edge of jar and drag upward to remove air bubbles.

5a. For short-term storage: Let jam cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until jam is set, 12 to 24 hours. (Jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.)

5b. For long-term storage: While jars are hot, wipe rims clean, add lids, and screw on rings until fingertip-tight; do not overtighten. Return pot of water with canning rack to boil. Lower jars into water, cover, bring water back to boil, then start timer. Cooking time will depend on your altitude: Boil 10 minutes for up to 1,000 feet, 15 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet, 20 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, or 25 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 feet. Turn off heat and let jars sit in pot for 5 minutes. Remove jars from pot and let cool for 24 hours. Remove rings, check seal, and clean rims. (Sealed jars can be stored for up to 1 year.)

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Your Guide to Preserving the Season
  • May 25, 2016