Scott loves homemade berry jam. Adores it. It is likely the only homemaking-type thing I don’t do that he desperately wishes I would.
Keep in mind, I’m not crafty, knick-knacky or into decorating our home. He doesn’t seem to care. But the jam? Oh he mourns the missing jam.
Part of the problem was that I had never canned at home, but I learned in my advanced cooking class at BYU how to can and how to do it safely. So I wasn’t content to just ladle hot jam in a jar and call it a day. I knew each jar needed to be processed, each lid sterilized, etc.
We invested in a canner for putting up homemade applesauce in the fall, so that excuse was off the table. However, most homemade jam is so terribly unhealthy (more cups of sugar than fruit, for crying out loud), I was still hesitant to try it.
But Father’s Day loomed and the berries were loading up the fields and I caved. Surely I could make a healthier version of jam and emerge a hero. Super wife.
So we picked (conveniently when my jam-making Mother-in-Law was in town for graduation):
With strawberries at $1.50/lb at Hann farms, blueberries at $1/pint at most grocery stores in town, and ready help and expertise on hand, we jammed it up.
We canned low-sugar blueberry jam, low-sugar strawberry jam, low-sugar pectin strawberry freezer jam, low-sugar gelatin strawberry freezer jam, and when we ran out of freezer containers, quart-sized bags of plain old frozen strawberry “syrup” (mashed strawberries without added sugar).
The pectin I used for all but one batch of jam was Ball’s no sugar needed pectin. I went ahead and used the recipe inside, with white grape juice and/or apple juice. We then added a bit of sugar to taste. It varied depending on who was the taster, with Scott and his mom preferring more sugar and me preferring less sugar (as I recall, 1/2 c. to 1 1/2 cups sugar per batch of 6 cups fruit.) They all turned out very tasty.
I made one batch of “no-sugar” gelatin freezer jam from this recipe but caved to Scott’s direction to add some sugar to it anyway. It didn’t take much added sugar with the concentrated fruit juice in there, which is basically sugar itself. It turned out fine, but not quite as good as the pectin kind. And, with the enclosed 50 cents off coupon in every pectin box and our local grocery store’s coupon-doubling, the pectin was actually just as inexpensive as the unflavored gelatin.
I was very pleased with the results. We now have lovely jars of jam and a freezer full of jam and syrup made from peak-season berries. Scott, naturally, is in heaven. 🙂