I do not have many regrets in my life. After all every thing has ended up the way I envisioned it. But there is one regret I have. I didnt want to learn how to make jelly and jams with my grandmother when she offered to teach me. I had no interest in canning and couldnt wrap my mind around learning. What a stubborn and stupid child I was. Now as an adult I ache to have to teach me. I have read online all the blogs and recipes for making strawberry jam/jelly. Pretty easy. And lucky for us, our area is the strawberry capital of the world. You can drive a mile and buy them from a strawberry stand where they were picked that very morning. I had no idea how many strawberries I really needed and bought way too many.
The canning...that was something that really puzzled me. I mean after all you can kill somebody if not done properly. The Fireman and I mulled over it, concerned. And then The Canning Queen came into our lives. No really, there is a Canning Queen. I promise you. She so graciously invited us into her house and along with her husband, and taught The Fireman and I how to can until we weren't afraid anymore and were sure we could go home and can just about anything. And I have to warn that once you learn and try it once, you will want to can everything. Now we made more jelly than anyone can eat but you will want to give some away. If you are going to take the time to can, you might as well go ahead and really make a ton.
Canning jars (one case and I like the jelly jars)
2 boxes of pectin
1 case of strawberries
Lemon Juice (out of a container)
So I was lucky to be at a location that had everything. I have none of these items at home yet as I have been canning with The Canning Queen, soaking up all her knowledge (and eating a couple of her BOMB scones with her homemade lemon curd)This is way too much strawberries, but again if you are going to do it, you might as well make a bunchTake the stems off the strawberries, wash and slice. This was a production that The Fireman and The Canning Queen's daughter attempted. I quite enjoyed watching The Fireman doing this as he doesn't really cook.
We are using the recipe on the box of Pectin. They seem to all be the same. There is only one alteration/addition that we will get to.Measure 2 cups of sliced strawberries. We are using a measuring container that can handle some mashing because that is the next step. Take a potato masher and make into a nice smooth consistency. You could use a food processor or blender or as The Canning Queen, she uses a hand held Immersion Blender that they have nicknamed "The boat motor" but use what ever works for you.
You need a lot of pans for canning as I learned. One for the jelly. One for the canner and a small one for the lids.Add the 1/4 cup lemon juice. Now The Canning Queen insists that it must be the stuff from the bottle. It's an acid issue and not taste issue, as I promise you wont taste it. Acid and canning are important.Add the strawberries to a large pan, add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. I must confess I misread the instructions and did this all wrong in the first batch. I ended up with Strawberry syrup which The Canning Queen has insisted is heaven sent. So It will be used for some pancakes, on top of ice cream or to be made into some bbq sauce. It taught me to slow down on my reading but more importantly The Canning Queen taught me to roll with the punches.
Now The Canning Queen adds just a smudge of butter to the mixture. She says it reduces the foaming that can occur.Once the strawberries are boiling add the sugar. Cook, boiling for one more minute
In a small pan start heating water for the lids. You are going to heat the lids.Now the fun part. Start ladling into jelly jars. You could get creative and use all different size jars. The Canning Queen had all the perfect gadgets to make it all go smoothly. She places a towel under all the jars for spills but insists to just not worry about the mess. It can be cleaned up. Fill each jar leaving 1/8 of an inch on the top. Even The Fireman helped ladle Wipe off all the rims of the jars with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and then take a finger and run it along the rim making sure there aren't any cracks or dents. Its ok if there are, it just wont make a good seal and will need to be refrigerated right after instead of storing in the pantry. We had perfect jars so it wasn't an issue.double check! Even a granule of sugar can affect the process of the lids sealing
Top with a lid and the a rim.I love all the gadgets The Canning Queen has for this. Check out the magnet that grabs the lid out of the pot of HOT water!
Turn the lid closed just till it is closed. Don't crank it closed. This is important. The Canning Queen's husband shows The Fireman how he makes sure it is just closed. Not Cranking and only closing until it catchesThe filled, closed jars then are placed into a rack to be put into a water bath. The Canning Queen uses a canner that fits quite a few jars at a time.When you stack the jars for the second level (we are making enough for the whole town after all) stagger them instead of placing right on top the the next canPlace rack into the canner. Water must cover the jars by an inch or two. Bring to a boil and time for ten minutes. Add water if neededRemove from the water and let sit and cool for 24 hours. As you can see we were canning fools Label them the next day. I am just using a sharpie. But you could really decorate the rims. The Canning Queen insists that you store with out the rims but add the rims if you are giving away or putting in the fridge.I couldn't resist and had to open the next day. Look at the color. It's so bright compared to the store bought version. The color is almost neon it is so vibrant.