Summer would be incomplete without a bountiful of fresh, ripe, and sweet strawberries. There’s something very pleasing about strawberries whether it’s the way they look, smell, feel or taste. In fact, strawberries are called the “happiest fruit” due to their cheerful demeanor and their association with the laziness and carefree feelings of summer. What better way to preserve this than to make a luscious, strawberry jam? Gather all the sweet and plump strawberries to make delightful jams that will burst out happiness when opened.
Strawberry Jam Trivia
- Strawberries are just one of the fruits which ripen during spring. Florida and California primarily grow most of the strawberry production in the US, along with North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, and New York.
Strawberry Jam Buying Guide
Strawberry Jams are available in the condiments and jellies section of grocery stores and supermarkets. You can purchase either the commercially packed jams or those produced by artisan families.
It’s best to buy strawberry jam during the strawberry season to celebrate their prime flavors. The best strawberry jams are the all-natural varieties since chemical ingredients interfere with the aroma and flavors of strawberries.
Strawberry Jam Production & Farming in Texas
Strawberries are one of the easiest berries to grow in Central Texas. Strawberry growers suggest it’s best to cultivate strawberries in the fall as they produce the sweetest berries just in time for spring. The cool fall weather is essential for berry production and greatly impacts the quality and flavor of the strawberries.
Everyone might think that strawberries are the representative fruit of summer, along with raspberries and blueberries, but they won’t be able to tolerate the hot Texas summers. That’s why it’s best to plant strawberries during the light to moderate heat of spring.
When planting strawberries, choose fertile, well-drained soil. It helps to add some comport and other organic matter as fertilizers. Nitrogen fertilizer can be added every three weeks to actively grow the strawberry shrubs.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Jams, jellies, and preserves are made with four basic ingredients: fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar.
Fruit is the base for any jams, jellies, or preserves. It is essential to use firm and ripe fruit for jams as over-ripe fruits will result in a liquidy set. Meanwhile, an under-ripe fruit will have fewer juices and under-developed flavors. Taste the fruits first before using them on your jam.
Pectin is essential to achieve the gel-like consistency of the jam. In simpler terms, pectin is necessary to set the jam. It is important to know the difference between pectin and gelatin. Pectin is a natural starchy substance usually found in fruits while gelatin is derived from animals. Certain types of fruits have different pectin levels. Strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are low in pectin meanwhile blackberries, currants, cranberries, and eastern concord grapes have a high pectin content.
Sugar is another essential ingredient in jams, jellies, and preserves. While people think sugar is just a sweetener, it is much more than that. Sugar is essential in retaining the shape and texture of the fruit. In the case of low-sugar jams, they have a shorter shelf-life because of their consistency. Low-sugar jams should also be paired with low-sugar pectin to successfully achieve the texture. Otherwise, the unsuccessful chemical reaction would result in a less desirable texture.
Citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are commonly used in jams and jellies. Acids are essential to bind and form the pectin. Most people can easily purchase powdered forms of acid, but the acid of lemon juice or other citrus fruits would suffice.
Safely canning jams, jellies, and preserves are essential to maintain their flavors and lengthen their shelf-life. The Boiling Water Method for Strawberry Jam is one of the most reliable. To do this, prepare the canning jars filled with food and completely submerge them in boiling water at 212°F.
Certain measures should be done before doing the boiling water method. Check the cans to ensure they are safe for food packaging and consumption. Look for cracks, chipped edges, and even tiny scratches. Discard the jars if you can find any of these inconsistencies. This is an essential step since any small cracks or chips can be triggered by heat during the boiling process.
Also check the rubber lid to ensure that there are no mold growths since any mold could spoil an entire glass. Never use the metal covers if there are patches or specks of rust since it can also contaminate the strawberry jam, making it unsafe for consumption.
Enjoying Strawberry Jam
Toast two pieces of sliced bread, spread some peanut butter on the other bread and while spread a generous amount of strawberry jam on the other bread to enjoy your peanut butter and strawberry sandwich! Pair it with coffee, latte, or tea to counter the sweetness.
Properly storing either commercially-produced or homemade strawberry jam will determine how long you can keep the flavor quality and shelf-life. All unopened artisan-made jams should be stored in a cool, dark place, and should be consumed within a year. although, you can consume it for a maximum of three to six months to enjoy the flavors as time will modify the flavors, colors, and textures of the jam. Once opened, always refrigerate the strawberry jam and consume it within two to three weeks since the jams will deteriorate faster once opened and exposed to varying temperatures. Always check for signs of spoilage before eating the jam. Those with mold or yeast growth in the lids or the glass wall and having fermented or yeasty odors should be immediately discarded.
2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups white sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4-to-1/2-inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.