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Molly Makes {Jam}

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and a mess – mess not shown due to the “I don’t quite know what I’m doing, I’m learning this out of a book” panic of this first batch.  Word to the wise, when buying can supplies with in the intent of jam making, buy an old fashion potato smasher.

The haul here – I went a little over board with the strawberries I think.  But the smaller boxes were sub-par and I only managed to get about half a box of usable strawberries out of each.  One of the larger boxes went to strawberry pie and the other is waiting for today (Wednesday) to see what becomes of it.  The cucumbers are for pickling, more on that to come!

For my teacher I used the classic Ball Blue Book and found it an amazing resources.  Really, it’s full of great information and easy to follow diagrams.

If you think canning looks complicated, it’s really not so bad.  It’s about timing and planning that’s for certain, but I managed to make and cleanup after this batch in about an hour and half (not counting the half hour-ish I spent cutting up the strawberries earlier that day).

The true test of this first batch is yet to come, the remains that were cooling on the stove were delicious, but I’ve decided to wait a little bit to make sure I sealed them right and nothing rots/spoils.

The most important thing I’ve learned in this years strawberry adventures (with the store-bought and my few precious berries from my backyard) is that the store-bought have been fooling me for almost 30 years!  Yep, I’m kind of naïve for a native  Iowan, but I never realized before this year that strawberries are not meant to be hallow and white on the inside.  Real berries are ALL berry and you’ll never want to go back to the imposters after you’ve realized that.  So now I have very high expectations of next years backyard strawberry crop.

Dill Pickles were attempted yet, and still on the list is perhaps one more batch of jam, apple butter and bread and butter pickles.  Honestly, this will probably be the extent of my canning this year (start small), but I still have plans for some freezing in the future.


6 responses »

  1. The first time I attempted to make jam I think I overcooked the sugar and it ended up rock hard in the jar! Completely inedible, my husband tried to stick a spoon in the jar (and failed!) and it just tasted like candy floss- my chutney effort was more successful and I think I’l be sticking to that for a bit!! (we live and learn!)

    Home grown berries are the best- nothing beats them, we go blackberry picking down the lanes near us in Autumn and pick tons and freeze them. They last several months 🙂

    • I’m planning on opening up a jar tonight or tomorrow… wish me luck!

      I can’t believe it, but I haven’t found a single strawberry farm in the area. I’ll have to re-double my attempts next years now that I’m aware of what I’m missing!

      • There used to be a berry farm South of town on Sand Road. They did strawberries and blueberries. I know they got sold a few years ago and I forget what the name was changed to. I don’t know if they’re still in business. I can’t imagine what else someone would do with that many acres of strawberries and blueberry bushes. If I can find out, I’ll let you know what it’s called.

      • I think it’s actually Sand Road Farms now (used to be Bocks)or something like that, but everything I found about it didn’t say a thing about strawberries, only apples and blueberries… if they’re still doing strawberries I’ll be planning a visit soon!

  2. I found your blog through Frugal Trenches & just spent a better part of my afternoon reading through it! 🙂 I subscribed as I think it’s a wonderful blog & find your values much like mine.

    Everything you made looks just wonderful!! I haven’t done anything like this yet, but I will next year! I’m starting a small savings account for a garden & any supplies I’ll need to make the most of it next year! It’s the way to go! 🙂

    Does the Ball Blue book cover everything I’d need to know about preserving? I’ve been looking for a good one, but am hoping to only have to buy one book that covers it all! 🙂

    • Welcome to my little part of the blog world! I’m always excited to connect with more people who don’t look at things like simple living like I’m a few pops short of a tart. Saving for the garden is a good idea, it’s taken a nice little chunk out of my checking account this year – but remember (just like with a lot of canning supplies) you’re often investing in things – fencing, stakes, containers, tools – that you’ll use for years if taken care of properly. Even mulch/straw/ etc. is an investment because it will eventually decompose and improve your soil! Check back next week I’m doing an ode to my favorite gardening tool post.

      So far the Ball Book has had everything I need. It covers techniques, safety, materials (it even gives you a list of things you’ll need depending on what you intend to can!) and is full of good, practical no nonsense recipes. This would really come in handy if you have picky eaters – just straight forward jams, pickles, etc. that the kids won’t turn their noses at! And the best thing, at least in my neck of the woods, is that just about any store that sells good amounts of canning supplies sells the Blue Book, so if you’re out stocking up and can’t remember if you need pint jars or quart, or what kind of pectin to use, a copy is usually just on the shelf for a quick refresher!

      I’d also suggest just picking out maybe 3 or 4 things to start with for the year – test them and and see if you like them, its worth the time and expense, etc. Start simple – like I said this year I’m only attempting apple butter, strawberry jam and two kinds of pickles …. okay I might throw in a peach or pear jam too if I get the time.


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