Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stawberry Honey Jam

It's late and the combination of a sleepy Mama brain and having so much to say makes this post all over the place (and it also means I am behind on replying to comments on here) I hope it makes sense. Ok, you have been warned!

In true Oregonian fashion we picked strawberries in the mud and rain (which explains why there are no photos of the actual event) with some of our friends. It was a lot of fun and quite comical, really. Not only was it raining but the sprinklers turned on as we were picking, sending us into giggles with the irony of it all. C was in a bit of a panic over it (she really, really does not like surprises), luckily it was nothing that a few delicious Hood strawberries couldn't fix. Baby L didn't find the rain quite as funny nor the constant bending down while I picked so Kevin walked around the farm with him, instead.

We got in a couple of hours worth of picking before all the little ones decided they had enough. The girls and I managed to pick 5 1/2 pounds of strawberries, although I would say between the three of us we ate another 1 - 2 pounds. Hood strawberries really are sweeter than any other strawberries I have ever tasted. Next year I hope we can pick a lot more.

On a size note: Do you see how covered in mud we all were? Perhaps the picture below will show it a bit better. It wasn't until we got home that I fully realized that my girls went strawberry picking in the mud in their new Mama made dresses.

Inhale. 'What was I thinking?!' came into my head but then quickly went right back out when I saw their happy faces. In my eyes, mud and dirt on children tells a story and shows just how much fun the child had outside. Exhale. Ahhhh, thank you again, my little ones, for reminding me of what really is important here. I am constantly learning. Anyways, I scrubbed the dresses on a washboard and they came out nearly stain free. Ok now back to the strawberries...

Why yes, that is a pillowcase on C's head - she informed us it was her hair.

We got the strawberries home and got to work washing and sorting them, tasting a few along the way. Our first matter of business was to cut up and freeze some to save for pancakes and muffins in the winter. After that we decided on making jam. I haven't made jam in years because every recipe I have seen calls for sugar, and I couldn't see any way of getting around it. I am not sure if I have mentioned it or not before but our little ones don't eat sugar, except for a rare special treat once in a blue moon, but then we usually pay for that sweet treat and remember one of the reasons why we avoided sugar in the first place. It's just our personal choice, and I am not saying that everyone should be sugar-free. I have been trying for years to wean myself and Kevin off of it, as well. I can't get over how addicting it is and how hard it truly is to give it up. With my children as my guides I do hope to kick the habit very soon.

After a bit of searching and a lot of determination we got a recipe and made our jam using honey in place of sugar. I thought I would share it with you in the hope to help out anyone who may have had the same problem as we did. The jam is out of this world. We have already gone through half our batch. I guess it won't make it to the winter but all we can do is live and learn. We'll make many more batches next year. I am hoping to try this with blackberries when they come into season, too.

Strawberry Honey Jam

1 3/4 cups honey
4 cups chopped up and mashed strawberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 2-ounce boxes powdered pectin

Makes roughly 4 1/2 one pint jars
(We ate the half jar within a day or two)

Thoroughly wash your freshly picked strawberries and remove the stems and leaves. Then chop them up into small pieces and put them in a bowl. Using your potato masher, mash them down until they reach your desired consistency (we like quite a few bits of medium sized strawberries in our jam).

Next, sterilize 4-5 pint jars in boiling water and keep them simmering while preparing your jam.

In a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries and pectin and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the honey and lemon juice and bring back to a boil. Boil hard for 5 minutes,stirring constantly.Remove from heat, skim off any foam and transfer to sterilized jars.Seal jars with lids and screw bands, and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Remove jars from the water bath and allow to stand undisturbed for 1 hour. If you can manage to not eat it all before the strawberry season even ends - the sealed jars can be kept in a cool, dark pantry for 1 year.

Now I am craving some toast with jam, or perhaps just eating jam with a spoon...
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