Saturday, May 18, 2013

Strawberry Pickin' and Preserves


 I hope you had a wonderful Saturday!  This past week flew by in a hurry, but a highlight was getting away for a little bit to pick some fresh, local strawberries.   


 Up until my life here in the south, I had never picked strawberries; several years ago my mom was visiting us and had heard about a local patch.  So off we went one morning and we were utterly amazed by the rows and rows of strawberries... so juicy and sweet we gobbled as many as we could while filling our buckets.  Since then we try to go every year, but it still feels like a novelty every time. 



  The first time Jillian went to the strawberry patch, she was a tiny little newborn asleep in the stroller.  Now she's old enough to fill almost an entire bucket by herself.  We all had so much fun. 


By the time we were finished, the girls were tired and full with strawberries.  I had to include this picture, because Rosetta was absolutely covered in strawberry juice!


 I came home with three gallons of strawberries and then wondered what I had been thinking and when I was going to have enough time to do something with all of them before they went bad!  This week we've had strawberries in oatmeal, on pancakes, in salad and straight out of the bucket.  And every chance I've had I've canned a small batch of strawberry jam. 


 I made some regular strawberry jam with pectin, but I've been wanting to try to make some jam without.  I had also been wanting to try some jam with honey instead of sugar, but I was nervous that it would taste too much like honey, so I compromised and did both. I made a very small batch and played around a little with ingredients and the result was a preserve-like jam that was delicious and full of flavor... it ended up being my favorite and I canned another batch again last night. 


The jam isn't quite as set as one made with pectin, but I was still very happy with its texture.  Canning is something I am still learning, but I really enjoy the process.  I don't have anything fancy in the way of canning equipment and I like to do it in small batches... I suppose I feel like it's a little more manageable... or that if I mess up, it won't be too many jars (smile)! 


But despite the learning curve, it is so worth it... there really isn't anything better than homemade strawberry jam. 


Strawberry Preserves

Heaping 4 cups of chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, juiced and zested

Makes 3 half-pint jars

Chop strawberries and combine with sugar and vanilla extract.  Let the strawberry mixture sit in a bowl while you prepare your jars and lids.  Pour strawberry mixture into a large pot and add honey.  I actually mashed my strawberries a bit at this point, but I should probably tell you to do it beforehand because the pan gets hot!  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, add lemon juice and zest and continue to boil until the jam is ready (my thermometer broke, so I did a spoon test, but it should be ready at 220 degrees).  Remove from heat and ladle into the prepared jars.  Wipe the rims of the jars, apply lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.  

(Note: If you're new to canning, The Pioneer Woman has a great tutorial here.) 

Have any of you tried making jam without sugar and honey instead?  I'd love to hear about it! 

P.S.  The winner of the Shabby Apple giveaway is Judy.  Thanks for entering!

51 comments:

  1. Yummmy, This post is lovely. It looks so good. And your girls look lovely.
    I don't like to use pecin either. I'm anxiously waiting for my blueberries and raspberries to be ripe for picking so I can make jam. Can't wait.
    Lovely post.
    xoxo
    Lisa
    leeshideaway

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    Replies
    1. How fun to have your own to pick, Lisa! And raspberries too! We have a few blueberry bushes that have blueberries on them, but there definitely won't be enough for jam this year. ;-)

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  2. I Have always wanted to can. Nothing like homemade jellies.

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  3. I love the pictures of your daughters as they look like they really enjoyed strawberry picking. I will have to try your recipe using the honey, as I have never used it in canning. I will have to wait until June when our berries will ready to pick.

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  4. That looks absolutely divine. I really wish we were neighbors :)

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  5. I love, love, love that picture of Rosey, covered in juice with her arms crossed! It was such a fun day. ~ Mom ~

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  6. I've so wanted to try making jam without sugar, but I was afraid it would turn our poorly. I'm so excited to see you had good results! I'm going to buy some strawberries as soon as they come into season locally and try your recipe.

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  7. Beautiful photos!
    My family has a blueberry farm and every harvest we make hundreds of jars of jam....all with honey instead of sugar. The jam is so much sweeter and taste more natural like fresh berries off the vine. It did take a couple tries to get the proportion right but now I use honey for a sugar substitute in a lot of recipes.

    I love your photos .... you show such a lovely story of a simple country life. :)

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    1. Hi Sarah! Are you allowed to share your blueberry jam recipe ? I'd also like to try using honey. Do you know if you can freeze the jam instead of canning it? Thank You so much :)

      Kathi

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    2. I would love to try your recipe too, Sarah! It's so nice to hear about the honey tasting natural in the jam. A family blueberry farm sounds wonderful... we found a local organic farm close by last year and I can hardly wait to visit it again. We also planted some bushes last year and there are several little berries on them now, but definitely not enough for jam. :-)

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  8. Hi again....I meant to ask you where you got those little mason jars? I must have some. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah! I bought those at Wal-Mart last year... they are really cute and perfect for jam. Here's the link: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ball-8-oz-Collection-Jars-4pk/16213253

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  9. Yummm...

    This post is really sweet... no pun intended. Well, maybe.

    That picture of your little gals is so fun.

    I want to do this too - take my kids out to the patch to pick - we just haven't done it yet. I'll have to try your recipe for sure. I LOVE those little jars.

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  10. Lucky to have strawberries in May! We have to wait until mid to late June before our local strawberries are ready.... I can hardly wait now :)

    I usually make freezer strawberry jam instead of canning it... but I'll have to give your recipe a try! Thanks for sharing.

    ~Chris

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    Replies
    1. I always look forward to strawberry season... a sure sign summer is on its way! I have never made freezer jam, but have thought about it. I'll have to give it a try this summer.

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  11. Looks wonderful. Next time you might want to try the freezer strawberry jam. Recipe used to be on the package of Sure-Jel. Rosetta looks as if she is guarding those berries. Blessings. Regena in TN.

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  12. Yammie !!...enjoy...love Ria...xxx..!

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  13. I try to make strawberry jam every spring and have always wanted to try it without the pectin, but have been too afraid to try. Thanks for arming us with the encouragement to go for it! Looks and sounds lovely. :)

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  14. Lovely jam! I just love picking fresh strawberries and making jam. I've been wanting to make a recipe with honey instead of so much sugar, so thank you for providing this one!

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  15. I love strawberry picking; it's one of my favorite seasonal activities. My husband and I usually pick 4 to 6 gallons and freeze most of them for smoothies to enjoy the rest of the year. I also like to make strawberry shortcake. I tried jam once (without pectin) and it didn't turn out well. This year I want to make strawberry ice cream.
    I have to ask: is that your handwriting on the label in the last photo? It's beautiful!
    Claudia

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    Replies
    1. Picking strawberries is definitely something I look forward to every year too. :-) Freezing for smoothies sounds delicious. Yes, that is my handwriting (when I write slowly enough) and thank you! :-)

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  16. Rosetta looks like she is not going to let anyone get near her strawberries! Just precious! We have some strawberries growing in one of our raised beds. Although I can, I may try the freezer jam because I need to skip the sugar!

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  17. We made our own jam for the first time last summer with blackberries, and I'm just waiting (waiting waiting) for our local Mt. Hood strawberries to come into season. (Probably won't be for a few more weeks.) They taste so much better than the ones we can get in the stores, and I can't wait to eat them all year! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe--I definitely want to try that out!

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  18. So sweet:) The girls are darling and how wonderful that you took them to pick berries. The strawberries have been delicious this season .. and I will be making jam/preserves soon. Yours looks so good and there is nothing like fresh preserves on toast in the morning:) xxleslie

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  19. Andrea, I have never canned anything, but may need to know how in a couple years. Hubby planted strawberries this year so we will see. Love the photo of your daughters and the evidence of how much she enjoyed them on Rosetta's face. Looks like you made fresh bread, too. Yum.

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  20. Andrea,
    What a fun activity for your family. Your jam looks so yummy and the smaller jars are so much better for jam. It allows the bread crums and butter that makes it into the jar to sit in it less time. Rosetta's picture made me laugh.
    Ashley

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    Replies
    1. Ashley, you need to come visit so we can go strawberry picking together! :-)

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  21. The photo of your "full of strawberries" girls is just adorable! I live on an island that was known in the past for it's strawberry farms. When we first moved here in the 80's there were still fresh berry stands around but not any more. So this year I've planted 25 strawberry plants in my fenced garden. They are blooming!

    http://northislandcottage.blogspot.com/

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    1. How fun! I would love to have a little strawberry patch.

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  22. The jam looks delicious! I visited our local strawberry farm last week with my neighbor, we go every year, and due to so much rain and lack of sunshine, the pickings were slim. We plan to go back this week and get more for jam. I absolutely love the picture of the girls after the trip. Rosetta appears to be a "ham" for pictures. So cute!!!

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  23. Much like you, I am just learning about canning. I actually do more freezing of garden items. I really love how you used honey in place of the sugar!

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  24. Your jam looks delicious and your girls adorable! There is nothing quite like fresh strawberries that practically melt in your mouth. We have several local strawberry farms, but it will be quite a while before we're picking in MN.

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  25. My first job as a kid was picking strawberries at a local farm but what I am curious about here is : is this just local to my area or do you ( andrea or readers) mix sugared strawberries with milk?

    ( that simple.. a sort of strawberry soup fresh and simple snack or dessert :)

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    1. Hmm, that is not something I have ever tried, but it sounds delicious and refreshing!

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  26. That looks great and yummy ! Hope you have a great start to your week !!!

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  27. That looks really tasty. Your girls are adorable. Great photos!

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  28. The bread looks delicious as well. What kind of bread is that? The girls are adorable!

    Angela

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    1. Thanks, Angela! It's just a basic sandwich loaf I make once or twice a week... half whole wheat. :-)

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  29. Umm, yum! I love making jam! My last batch was apricot. I've been wanting to experiment with honey also, so with a small batch of the apricots I had left after the jam, I attempted to make some syrup with adding honey only (a little lemon juice) I wanted it thinner, so cooked it about 1/2 the time as the jam (15 min instead of 30) I did not do any measurements tho, just added honey by the spoonfuls until it was just sweet enough to take the edge off. It actually turned out very good, and I will do more with honey next time as I have cut so much sugar out of my cooking. It's amazing what actually tastes sweet enough when you don't use much sugar!

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  30. Lovely! We've still another month before we have a chance to pick those lovely goodies. Great to see a sneak peak.

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  31. Love strawberry time in the South! That is such an adorable picture of her with all of the strawberry juice!

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  32. Oh Andrea, how I love your posts! I love seeing the girls, they are so cute! I love how you bring family into ever post. I love Rosetta's face, that is something Jack would do. Have a great day friend! Jen-City Farmhouse

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  33. I have made 4 small batches of strawberry jam this evening, and just sat down to take a rest and to think about trying another with honey (running low on sugar). Great minds...

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  34. honey is so so good with jam....so nice to see you with your girls with smashed strawberry juice...nothing says warmer weather than that!! we have yet to see a single strawberry up here in Illinois!

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  37. had to pin this! love strawberries so much! such a great pic of rosetta's sweet face!

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  38. Bom dia! Adorei sua receita de geléia de morango. Aqui eu utilizo a pectina da maçã, cozinhando maçã com casaca e semente. Depois utilizo o caldo da maçã ou mesmo a maçã cozida e passada numa peneira. Junto com o morango (ou outra fruta)e deixo ferver até dar a consistência à geléia. Pode colocar açúcar ou deixar natural.

    Aqui no Brasil, faço geléias de várias frutas sem o uso da pectina industrial, e ficam deliciosas. Agora vou experimentar a sua receita de geléia que parece ser uma delícia.

    Um abraço,
    Léia Freisleben

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  39. I remember as a child going to the strawberry patch with my parents and we picked (and ate) wonderful strawberries...and the wonderful jam my mom made too....thanks for bringing back my memories of those days!!

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