Just because preserving food in the Deep South has almost no purpose, for some reason, the habit of food preservation just won’t leave me.
But Shaye! There is no need in Lower Alabama! There is delicious, local produce available year round!
I know, self. But I just can’t help myself. What if when November rolls around, girlfriend starts craving strawberries? Or figs?
Plus, let’s face the facts here. 98% of our country isn’t blessed with year-round local produce and goods. Because, ya know, it actually gets cold other places (I know, I know. Hard to imagine.).
So when I was out picking berries last week in super-hot sunshine, sweating all over, and covered in sticky red dirt, I thought about all those cold souls out there in the rest of the country.
I knew I must persevere. And preserve.
For you, my dear friends, a naturally sweetened strawberry jam. The whole cane sugar adds just a the teeniest taste of molasses into the jelly – a delicious depth of sweetness. Get to the back of the line, white sugar. You’ve got no place in my jelly.
Are you ready?
I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
Naturally-Sweetened Fresh Strawberry Jam
You will need:
– 10 pounds freshly picked strawberries, washed and stemmed
– 2 cups (or more, depending on the sweetness of your berries) dehydrated cane sugar, rapadura, or sucanant (find it here)
– Mason jars, lids, and rings (I used about ten jelly jars)
– Water canner
Step One: Add the washed and stemmed strawberries into a large pot. Turn head on low and allow the strawberries to heat up slowly. As they begin to warm up, they will begin to sorta “melt”. Use a potato masher to squish them all around into little bits. This step took us about a half an hour (we ignored them, for the most part, while we ate cheese and crackers).
Step Two: After the strawberries are warm, squishy, and resemble jam, add in the cane sugar. Bring to a very low simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Step Three: In the meantime, wash and sterilize your mason jars (use whichever size you wish!) and lids. Bring the water in your water canner up to a boil.
Step Four: When the jars are sterilized, carefully pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars. Wipe off the edge of the jar with a wet rag and add on the lid and ring. Place in the water canner. Repeat with remaining jars.
Step Five: When the water canner is full, submerge the jars into the water bath, making sure there is at least an inch of water above the lids. Put the lid on the water canner, maintaining a boil, and process the jars for 15 minutes.
Step Six: Remove (CAREFULLY!) using of these and place on a towel to seal and cool.
Boom. Bam. KAPOW! That’s how we do strawberry jam, baby.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of super sweet jams. It kills me when I read recipes that are like, “2 cups of berries and 4 cups of sugar, please!”.
And then I’m like, “PEOPLE! Just stick your head in a bin of sugar and chomp away! Why even try and disguise it as jam!”
And then they’re like, “Shaye! We like sugar! Back off!”
And then I’m like, “Fresh strawberries are naturally sweet! Why overpower them?!”
And then they’re like, “Because we want to!”
And then I go tell them to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done to the poor strawberries.
They’ll come around.
Especially after they eat this naturally-sweetened jam slathered on top of a buttery biscuit.
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