It is one of the best growing times of the year – strawberries are ripening all over the Garden State. And the fragrance of strawberries always takes me back to my childhood.
As a child our family lived at that line called the poverty level. Anything purchased at the supermarket was an extravagance. How I longed to take home a jar of Welch’s Jelly. But that was not to be. Instead, my sisters, grandmother, mother, and I would pile into our “vintage” car and head off to a strawberry field to pick the berries
When we would all tumble out of the car, the first thing that would strike me was that heady aroma of sweetness, followed by a landscape filled with red jewels. We would each be given our box and off to fields we would go to pick.
Once the boxes were filled, it was back to the car. We were packed into the car like sardines with our very red lips and crimson hands and our precious cargo of those little red jewels.
As soon as we got home, the boiling and chopping would commence. Out would come the ball jars and the sealing wax. Hours and hours later, the jars would be lined up like a stunning chorus line dressed in red. Hot and tired, our dinner would be a thick slice of bread with peanut butter and the fruit of all our hard work piled on top. The rest was “put by” for the winter.
On a cold, snowy morning later in the year, the wax would be breached and out would come the warmth and fragrance of a summer day spread on our morning toast.
Now, I am so happy not to have bought that Welch’s Jelly because I have had the pleasure of sharing this ritual with my own children and still opening a jar of summer on a cold winter day.
Low Sugar Strawberry and Rosemary Preserves
- 2 pounds (about 4 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 packet of liquid certo pectin
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- Wash strawberries; drain.
- Remove Stems.
- Crush strawberries on layer at a time. (I use a potato masher for this.).
- Combine strawberries, liquid pectin, lemon juice, minced rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and butter in a large saucepot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil.
- Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, and skim foam if necessary.
- Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
- Adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
SPECIAL NOTE: This makes approximately 8 1/2 pint jars of preserves. The preserves are delicious with toast but are also very tasty on a cheese board and can be used as a glaze for chicken or salmon.
I hope you give this a try. On a winter’s morning you will thank yourself.
Talk soon, ❤️💕 Bernadette
33 responses to “Strawberry Jam – strawberry fields forever”
Bern, I love this story, and your recipe. Thank you.
Elizabeth, you can make this as refrigerator jelly and it is really good mixed with no fat greek yogurt. Thanks for reading.
Bern, that’s a great idea. And it takes away the intimidation I feel about canning and bacteria! Thanks for the suggestion.
Nothing store-bought at our house either. I consider us the lucky ones. We would all go chokecherry or Saskatoon berry picking, as they grew wild and were free for the picking. We would come home all scratched from the brambles and twigs and our mouths would be bright blue from the berries we ate while picking. It would always be a very hot day too so we would be sunburnt. Then the sorting and cleaning. Left in water, the bugs would rise to the top. Chokecherries had stones in them so we had to put them through a conical sieve. I recall getting blisters using the wooden pin. It was so much work but so worth it when we had homemade bread, with homemade butter and that glorious jam you just can´t buy in a store!! Thanks for the wonderful memories.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yes, it turns out that we are the lucky ones.
Strawberries everywhere right now! In the middle of winter, nothing says summer like the taste of strawberry preserves! Love that this is lower sugar.
I made it that way on purpose because I use a dab of it in my no fat yogurt and it makes a delicious breakfast.
This uses quite a bit less than my low-sugar preserves, I’ll have to give it a try! Always looking to cut down on sugar wherever possible.
Beautiful memories and super delicious 😋 Much better than anything from the supermarket 😉
For sure but my 8 year old self still wants supermarket jelly
Homemade jams or jellies are definitely the BEST, esp. when the fruits are at their peak.
Strawberries almost done in New Jersey. I can’t wait for figs.
I remember those times with fondness and horror! I was the one that washed millions of jars and measured a teaspoon of salt or sugar,. Peeled, cut, everything from berries to tomatoes! What I loved was gathering the maple sap for syrup. We grew everything on our 15 acre farm. I grew so much and so fast after we moved in that I had stretch marks. The farm life changed me from an anemic kid to a healthy girl. I don’t remember doing Jams and Jellies, but we probably did. I still bake bread and cook from scratch.
I totally agree about the fondness and horror. I think the fondness develops when you know you no longer HAVE to do these things. Thanks for checking in. I have been looking for something new from you. Have I missed your posts?
I did a new post and made it into a podcast. Don’t know if anyone will hear it, but it was fun and may do it again.
I am not sure how to access the podcast. Can you send the link?
I must say, you are a phenomenal writer. When I read your posts, I feel transported into the story and it makes me feel quite nostalgic. Thank you for sharing and look forward to trying this delicious recipe!
Such aa very nice compliment. Thank you.
Sri Lanka is currently under lockdown. And I cannot get hold of strawberries. I ordered some online, but it wasn’t available last min!😭💜
I will be posting other recipes using other fruits and perhaps you will be able to make one of those recipes. I am sorry to hear that you are on lockdown. Stay safe.
Ooh yay thank you!💜
My favorite – I use to make it flavored with lavender 🙂
That sounds lovely. How did you add the lavendar?
I infused the flowering stems in the jam/preserves/jelly when I first prepared the berries and while cooking and removed the stems before canning. When I first made preserves I let the cooked strawberry preserves sit out over night with the lavender before canning. I used Ball’s jam and jelly maker (this recipe is on my blog just search for the jam and jelly maker (which by the way worked beautifully) to make small batches.
Thank you so much for sharing this technique.
What a sweet memory Bernadette! I have never made jam or jelly, it has always seemed to hard, I admire you for passing your family tradition to your children and I’m sure it is quite a winter treat!
I love homemade strawberry jam, but with balsamic and rosemary? This is brilliant! My taste buds are craving it right now, and I wish I paid more attention when my grandmother made jams and preserves. I usually watched from a distance because of the heat sanitizing. If I can get my hands on some fresh local strawberries, do you think I could make a small batch of refrigerator jam with this recipe?
Sure Terri, your most certainly could make a small batch. Look for a small batch refrigerator jam and then just add the rosemary and balsamic to that recipe. Here is one – YIELD1 1.2 pints ACTIVE TIME10 TOTAL TIME30
1 qt ripe, organic strawberries, hulled and sliced
3⁄4 to 1 cup raw organic sugar (or substitute regular granulated sugar), depending on the sweetness of the berries
2 tbsp lemon juice
Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the strawberry mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and mashing the strawberries slightly (I used a potato masher for this). Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Put about a teaspoon of the jam mixture on the a plate and swirl the plate around. If the jam runs, cook for 2-5 minutes longer and repeat the process. (The jam should firm up when it hits the cold plate and should no longer run.) Transfer to clean glass jars and cool. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate. Makes about 1 1⁄2 pints. Epicurus.
This is the link, I think https://open.spotify.com/show/2x9ZGbuw3zcfbGArUS14te?fbclid=IwAR2cyz17NCBtuqNwD5ZPviKz1d3cj21fkwoEe2FMhw0y8UvSejkq1jthUL4
It is a little choppy as this is the first time I did one. Thanks for listening, I think it repeats, so you can quit after the first one. Will get better, I hope.
It is funny how things we can’t afford to have seem better than what we make ourselves when we are young. I think this idea often changes when we are older and see the value of the old ways especially when it comes to food.
Sometimes we do gain wisdom with age. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment
This looks delicious and I like that it is low sugar.