Jam works best with strawberries and blueberries which are ripe RIGHT NOW.
Jelly works best with blackberries, which are ripe RIGHT NOW, and red raspberries which will be ripe in August.
This is going to sound way too easy, but it's just as easy as it sounds. The only thing you have to be fussy about is your timing, and there are ways of dealing with bad timing at the end of the post.
First, buy some 4 ounce jars with lids. There are websites which will sell you cases of 24. That may seem like a lot, but you can also use them for herbal infusions -- more on that in some other post.
You probably need 3 jars per pound of raw fruit.
Second, decide on your storage method. For now I'm going to recommend that you make sure you have room in the freezer for your jelly and jam. I'll explain that in another post too.
Third, buy a couple of bags of sugar or BIG jars of honey.
You need a strainer for jelly. Use a juice strainer. Most colanders have holes either too big or too small to get the seeds out without losing a lot of jelly.
You don't need to strain your jam. The seeds of strawberries and blueberries are small enough that they won't grit your teeth.
You need a saucepan and a timer, which can be your phone or tablet or laptop.
Take the green tops off the strawberries. The others might have stems; remove those.
Mash the berries.
Measure the mash and dump it in the saucepan.
Measure out the exact same amount of sugar and dump it in the saucepan. If you use honey, use 2/3 as much honey as fruit.
Stir together thoroughly.
Turn the stove on to about 5 or 6.
When the fruit starts boiling, set your timer for 5 minutes and let it go, just keeping an eye on it because it can foam up and boil over.
At 5 minutes, turn the heat down to 2 1/2 or 3 and cook 15 minutes.
At 15 minutes, take the saucepan off the heat and set it aside.
Let the jelly or jam cool at least halfway.
Strain the seeds out of blackberry or raspberry jelly. Put the strainer on a saucepan, put jelly in the strainer, and use a spoon or fork to push the jelly through the strainer, leaving the seeds behind.
Divide up among jars. The fruit probably cooked down by 25% and that's why you probably need 3 jars per pound.
Screw the lids on.
One day later, uncap each jar and see if the contents are semi-solid. If they're very solid, reheat slightly with 6 TBSP water, then boil again, stirring constantly, and put back in the jar.
If they're pretty much liquid, reheat to a boil and cook another 15 minutes, then put back in the jar.
If it still doesn't work, the solid stuff can be used as a meat glaze and the soft stuff can be used as syrup for pancakes, waffles or French toast.
I admit it. You won't save any money on this, unless you grow your own, and I won't talk about that until I try it, but lots of people do. But you do avoid tons of chemicals.
I asked a young relative whether the homemade or the store-bought was better. "Homemade."
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved