I have never made jam. Probably because I’m not a toast eater. I’ve made savory fruit-based jellies and sauces and chutneys and compotes and so forth, but never jam.
A while back I spotted an automatic jam and jelly maker, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The electric appliance is made by Ball, which is well known for its canning equipment, so I finally bought the darn thing. Like so many other gadgets in my house, it sat around and gathered dust for a while. But just a short while.
With strawberries in season, and the fact that I probably love strawberry jam more than any other kind, I decided that it was time to make strawberry jam, and test out this gadget.
I had purchased strawberries but about the time I got around to rinsing them off and removing the blemishes, I ended up with 1 1/2 pounds.
One interesting fact in the manual: Don’t use a food processor to crush the fruit, because a food processor can break down the fruit’s natural pectin, preventing a good set. Interesting.
There are very few photos of the jam-making process, because it went so fast. Before I knew it, I had made jam! So here’s exactly what I did.
Strawberry Vanilla Jam
1 1/2 pound cleaned strawberries, hulled, halved
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/2 tablespoons pectin, dried form
1/4 teaspoon butter*
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
Have the strawberries in a large bowl. Crush the strawberries; I used my pastry cutter. I wanted my jam more like preserves, so I left the strawberries on the chunky side.
Cut the vanilla bean in half crosswise and save the half not used. With the other half, slice it lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add them to the strawberries. Stir the berries to incorporate the vanilla beans. Now you’re ready to begin.
Place the pectin in the base of the jam maker. The pectin I used is shown above. Add the strawberrrymixture to the jam maker. Top with the dab of butter.
That’s it! Turn it on and it will, by default, start at 21 minutes. It begins turning and mixing the ingredients. After 4 minutes, you’ll hear 4 faint beeps, and that is the time to lift the lid and add the sugar.
Return the lid to the jam maker, and wait till the remaining 17 minutes is up!
Remove the lid, and carefully remove the stirrer. You can use the handles on the jam maker to hold the pot because they don’t conduct heat, which is nice.
Let the jam cool, then spoon into clean jars. It goes without saying that every piece of equipment should be clean.
My recipe made about 12 ounces. I’m going to freeze one – 8 ounce jar of jam, and save the rest for some other purpose.
I’m not sure the vanilla does much for this jam, but it was a fun addition.
I can’t wait to play more with this gadget. I am very impressed, to say the least! Unless you want to can your jam or jelly, it’s pretty much a 30 minute process!