Small Wonder :: The First Four Jars

by Stefani on 14-May-2009

The First Four

We made jam today. 

My floor and counters are sticky. 
I didn't make it to the bank or the post office like I meant to. 
The laundry basket is full and so is the sink. 

But I have  four jars. 

Four sweet jars of strawberry jam, plus a little extra that we ate with spoons and fingers and "just one more" piece of toast. 

The first four jars of the season. 



I think my Momo would be so proud that I'm teaching my guys to make jam just like she taught me.

And right after she was done being proud she'd probably tell me to get off my fanny and do something about all those dishes. 

Palmolive here I come. 

Y'all come back this evening. We're gonna give some stuff away 🙂
J.T. May 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Can you share the recipe? I’m hoping to make some jam this summer after our berry picking excursion!!

Stefani May 14, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Hi there J.T. !

I sure can!… it’s the one you find on the back of the Sure-Jell fruit pectin box. 🙂

It’s right here too:

Sarah Jackson May 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

I’m making peach jam this weekend. Don’t hate me.

Stefani May 14, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I could never.
Not in a million.

But I might have to beg a trade 🙂

Later this summer we’re going to try something new. I’m still kinda skeptical, but itchin’ to try it:

tracy May 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Yum! Good thing I still have a few jars in the freezer–we have to wait until early July for local berries. We make two versions here: half of our family likes the SureJell version and half likes it less sugary so I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin.

frantically heidi May 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm

We have another month or so until strawberries are on here, but I’m getting ready!
I’ve always cooked my jam, just like my mama showed me – until last year when I made freezer jam. I felt guilty. It was too easy. It wasn’t “real” jam making.
But it is oh so good! Mama, forgive me – i may never go back!
We love mixing strawberry freezer jam into our homemade yogurt.

Stefani May 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

You know what? I made freezer strawberry jam last year too. I didn’t really count it as cheating though because I did the plum jelly and cherry jam the old fashioned way.
My freezer jam was just okay though… it didn’t really gel like I wanted it to. Did yours? Maybe I just did it wrong.
You’re so right though, it is MUCH easier!
Mmmm… must make up a new batch of yogurt. The boys have been after me to make some for smoothies, but now that you mention it, the jam would be so good in it too!

briar May 15, 2009 at 12:52 am

hey there
we are steaming towards winter over this side of the world, but i opened a wee peice of summer this morning with our last jar of summer plum jam….wonderful, could just about smell the sun on the plums! And reminded me of sweet sticky fingers and dribbled plum chins as all the littles gobbled as many as they could before they went in the pan!
Enjoy, its simply a heavenly season….

Dawn Suzette May 15, 2009 at 3:44 am

Awww! I was just telling my husband last night that another month is way too long for strawberries again. After being spoiled in California for so long… it’s hard to wait! Looking forward to the days!!
Love. Love. Your tablecloth by the way. Reminds me of one passed down from my Grandma!

Thimbleina May 15, 2009 at 4:51 am

Can’t wait until strawberries are in season here to make strawberry jam. We only have imported ones in the supermarket at the moment.

It looks so yummy

steadymom May 15, 2009 at 4:58 am

Sometimes it’s wise to let the “good” go to make room for the “best.”

Sounds like you made the right trade-off!


Jen May 15, 2009 at 6:04 am

Great timing– my strawberries for jam are macerating in the fridge waiting to be canned today! I’m adding a little basil and black pepper to some, and balsamic vinegar to the rest– both give it such a complex (but unidentifiable) flavor!

emily May 15, 2009 at 6:19 am

stefani, do you have an actual “canner?” or do you use some other method? i’ve been wanting to try making jam forever, but i have zero equipment and i’m scared!

Kimmie May 15, 2009 at 6:23 am

Yum, is it strawberry season where you live? Here in the northeast we are still a long way away from strawberries. Your jam looks yummy.

mama to 7
one homemade and 6 adopted

Kelly May 15, 2009 at 6:53 am

Yum, yum, yum! My boys love making jam with me! We just made blueberry last week from some frozen Oregon blueberries we still had hidden in the freezer. Yum! We’re down to the bottom of our last big jar of strawberry though so that has to be next on the list. Here’s another great site for jam making:

Makes it very easy peasy!

Melanie May 15, 2009 at 7:09 am

Just what I was thinking…thanks for sharing the recipe for a novice canner!

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:13 am

You’ve just hit upon my very favorite thing about making our own… the memories that go into the jars with the jelly.
Stay warm!

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:14 am

Our strawberry season is actually all but over here. Can you believe that. Late March is the height of strawberry picking time in Texas!

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:15 am

Wow! You know I used to dunk strawberries in the balsamic, but I’ve never heard of canning them that way.
Do tell!

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:22 am

Hi Emily! Don’t be scared! it’s so much easier than the directions make it sound!
I do have a canner. I have my great grandmother’s giant water bath canner. It’s really just a big pot with a rack in the bottom though.
I’ve heard that you can just use a stock pot with some wadded up foil in the bottom. You just need something to keep the jars off the burner.
I think the only thing that’s really essential in terms of “tools” is a set of canning tongs to lift the jars out of the boiling water:
They’ve got ’em at our local big box store, so they’re not too hard to come by.
For a smart, talented cookie like you, canning ain’t no thang… promise 🙂

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:24 am

Believe it or not, it’s the END of strawberry season here.
Late March is prime time in these parts. Crazy right?

Know what’s even weirder? Apple season here is in July!
Who wants to drink Apple Cider and make Apple Pie when it’s 103 degrees out?

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 7:26 am

Thanks for the link Kelly!
Mmmmm…. blueberries!!! I’m hoping and praying that we get some blueberries our way this year. I’ve heard that the late frost we had is going to put a serious damper in blueberry season. It’s going to be an all out brawl in the berry patch with everyone trying to scare up enough for a pie or two!

Emily Cole May 15, 2009 at 7:50 am

This is exactly what I’m doing today – We got 10 lbs of Strawberries from a local organic farm last night ($12/bucket – yikes!). I’m planning to make as much jam as I possibly can this year – my kids eat it on everything, and I like for them to have homemade instead of storebought!

Emily Cole May 15, 2009 at 8:24 am

Oh – and I use a large stockpot, without a rack in the bottom – it works just fine. I’ve never had any trouble with the jars sitting on the bottom of the pot. (knock on wood!)

Stefani May 15, 2009 at 8:33 am

Really? I’m so glad to hear that!
Our canner is so big, and takes it takes SO long to heat the water to a boil. When I’ve got just a few jars to process, it’s very cumbersome. I’m going to have to try it with just the stock pot next time.
Thank you!

Amber May 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

I was very intimidated on my first forays into canning. But now I love it. Jam, pickles, fruit, the jars are so pretty and colourful and I feel very satisfied eating the finished product.

I can’t wait until we get strawberries here!

Jennifer May 15, 2009 at 9:53 am

Good for you, Mama! I’ve only made freezer jam before, but I think it’s time to try the original method. I love that tablecloth of yours. And great job getting your little me involved in the kitchen.

Jesse K. May 15, 2009 at 11:30 am

Nothing better than strawberry jam! Oh yum. Last year I gave up hoarding our jars and accepted the fact that every year, no matter how much we make, it will be gone before the strawberries come back. Even so, every year I plan to make more, in bigger batches, in bigger jars. Strawberry jam is just the perfect thing for everything!

Mama Urchin May 15, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I made our first jars this week too.

Jade May 15, 2009 at 5:10 pm

fine, fine, fine… i’ll give it a try. how do you seal the cans???

Pink and Green mama May 15, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Love your tablecloth. Is it unhealthy for a blogger to covet another blogger’s vintage linens? 🙂

Cassandra May 15, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Alright, you’re inspiring me (as usual.) Last year, I pickled some green beans. It was my first venture into “canning.” Now, I’m thinking some strawberry jam sounds just fantastic… Our little berries are just getting started…

Miko's Girl May 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Did you have to boil your jars of jam in a water bath? The local newspaper said you don’t have to seal the jars in a water bath. I have a ceramic top stove and all of the bottoms of canners that I have seen are ridged and won’t work on my stove. My mom used to can and I think I should take a shot at it at least once.

All this to say, I’m impressed that you got 4 jars of jam off. And, that I may move onto making my first loaf of your bread this week. Bread and jam – how perfect!

brit May 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I’m alittle jealous that you already have strawberries, and basil…dang Texan. We did make rhubarb jam this weekend 8 jars…..We are going to be a little smarter with our jam this year, relegating some to the give away pile and more to the ‘fruits of our labour’ pile so we don’t find our begging the neighbors this year…what? us? never.

calbrecan May 18, 2009 at 7:37 am

We have a Momo, too! She’s my husband’s grandmother. Way to go on the jam–looks awesome!

this little light May 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Yummy! We made some a couple of weeks ago. I can’t get enough of it. It is so much better than store bought. I guess 7 cups of sugar in a batch–how could it not be good?

this little light May 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I think you can use the inversion method. Some people say not to, but I’ve never had a problem. I keep my jars hot in the dishwasher after doing the sterilize cycle and then pour the jam in, turn them over for five minutes.

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