I have to avert my eyes. Every time.
The strawberries are in, which usually means jam is cooking on the stove. And year after year, I’ve looked away while pouring eight cups of sugar into the pot.
That’s right. Eight cups. As in, more sugar than fruit if you follow USDA guidelines.
Ironic, considering I nag poor Brad to death whenever he sneaks a bag of half-price, day-after-Halloween candy into his nightstand. (Psst, honey, you might want to hide the contraband someplace other than the drawer with the rechargeable batteries. Just sayin’.)
Sugar-wise, my jam was no better than hubby’s candy corn, but that’s about to change. Inspired by that Preserving Now workshop, I decided to try strawberry butter with no sugar added. It works for apple butter, after all, so why not berries.
(Speaking of apples, you’ll need a couple of those chopped, peels left on, for natural pectin. Lyn at Preserving Now recommends a 4:1 berry:apple ratio.)
Here’s the skinny:
8 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups chopped and cored apples, peels on
Place berries and apples in a large pot. Heat on low until juices are released, then bring to a boil and simmer until soft, about twenty minutes. Puree with immersion blender to desired consistency. Pour in sterilized jars and boil in a water bath canner for five minutes. Yields six half-pint jars.
Since sugar is a preservative, this version won’t last as long when it’s open and sitting in the refrigerator, but Lyn says it’s just as shelf-stable as traditional jam if processed properly.
The spread is tart and bright with a creamy texture that’s great on a biscuit, crepe or pancake. It was a bit too thin for a PB&J, though, so the next round won’t play with the immersion blender quite so long.
Needs some dried herbs, too, to shake things up. Maybe sorrel or mint? What spices do you add to strawberry jams and pies?