Jellied Mistakes Were Made

My parents were in town last weekend and I thought a fun activity to do with mom would be making jelly.  Strawberries are still reasonably cheap and after my massive jam success what could go wrong?

I processed a lot of strawberries just like I did in the previous jam job.  For jelly, you take cut up fruit and cook it down a little to help get the juice flowing.  After about 5 minutes of boiling the strawberry slurry was looking just right.


The next step is to strain the cooked mush through a jelly strainer, then proceed with the strained product just like you would for a jam.  This is were the disaster came in.  I neglected to tie the strainer.  A healthy pouring of strawberry slurry turned into a huge mess. The bag slipped through its retaining ring and fell into the bowl.  Hot strawberry sludge went everywhere including on me.  I got a few burns and my kitchen looks like a murder scene.

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Luckily I wasn’t hurt badly, and everyone helped clean up.  We poured everything back in the pot, tied the bag securely and restarted the straining process.  It went reasonably well after that.  For an afternoon of work I got 5 jars of gorgeous ruby strawberry jelly, some burns, and a cleaned kitchen.  Interesting experience, but jam is less work and has higher yields.  Still though, look at this jelly!


Strawberry Madness!

The sun is out, the weather is warm, and we are in peak season of strawberries.  I went to my favorite food market and got a little unhinged with the strawberries.  20 pounds came home with me that day!

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I have been waiting for this day for a while.  My first canning experience was with strawberries many years ago.  We didn’t have most of the right tools, but we picked and canned a load and made the best strawberry jam I had ever tasted.  Now it is time to recreate the experience.

I gave them a wash and pulled the stem end off using a strawberry huller.  I would high recommend this tool for doing any amount of strawberries.  So quick!  The directions called for smashing with a potato masher, but I went for a quick few pulses in the food processor.  12 pounds did a good job filling up the bowl.

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After I had enough strawberries I began processing and canning batches.  You are supposed to do it in small sizes because the pectin can overcook.  The first group was full sugar, while all the rest were some variation of low sugar jam.  This is what it looks like with everything going in the pot.

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Many hours later and dinner time rapidly approaching I had 35 jars full, but still a lot of strawberries.  I had jammed 13 pounds at this point.  Well minus all the ones I ate.  Still, what to do with the remaining 7 pounds?  Three got sliced up and tossed with a small amount of sugar.  Dessert for a week!  The last 4 pounds got hulled and stuck on a cookie sheet bound for the freezer.  I make smoothies for breakfast, and my primary fruit ingredient is typically strawberries.  No reason these can’t go in.

All the jars eventually cooled, so I lined them up and gave them a spiffy label.  25 are a low sugar variety, and 10 are a regular full sugar.  7 cups went into those ten jars.  Kind of hard to imagine 3/4 of a cup of sugar getting wedged into each one of those little jars with all that fruit.  Toast anyone?