Strawberry Jam without pectin

2ajsmamaMarch 14, 2011

I made the Heirloom Strawberry Preserves from the 100th anniversary BBB last night/this AM. It's the same as this recipe Kay sent me:

"Strawberry Preserves

Source: Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Georgia.

The berries remain whole and plump and do not expect the syrup to set... it's a syrup.

Makes about 4 half pints

1 1/2 quarts strawberries stems removed

5 cups sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Chose firm red, ripe berries. Do not use berries with hollow cores.

Combine strawberries and sugar. Let stand 3 to 4 hours. Bring strawberry mixture slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice. Cook rapidly until berries are clear and syrup thick, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour into a shallow pan. Let stand uncovered 12 to 24 hours in a cool place. Shake pan occasionally to distribute berries through syrup. Heat mixture and pour hot preserves into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes. (I guess you could do 10 to avoid sterilizing, but this recipe predates necessity for processing, so I sterilize the jars.)"

*except* that it mentions skimming off the foam, so i figured that when I reheated it I should get it hot enough to foam, and it also says to process 20 minutes (!!)

1. Does it have to be bubbling/foaming hot to put into jars? Seems like if you reheated it til just liquid it would have better distribution of fruit, not floating.


2. Does it really have to be processed 20 minutes??? A few other recipes in that section of the BBB (pages 40-41) have 15-20 minute processing times but seems excessive. Though maybe if you *don't* reheat it to foaming, then you would process that long.

This looked pretty well set after cooling all night, I hope it doesn't end up too stiff after all that cooking/processing. I can't wait to try this with fresh local berries, want to make sure I get the processing just right with those, though. NCHFP doesn't have a no-pectin strawberry recipe on its website anymore.


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readinglady(z8 OR)

The processing time doesn't affect the set, so regardless of whether it's 10 minutes or 20, the set will be consistent. However, 20 minutes is totally unnecessary and I have no idea why that recipe says that.

The cooking time will probably not make these preserves stiff as the acid-pectin ratio with strawberries makes a stiff set difficult to achieve. You'd really have to cook the he** out of that preserve for that to happen. However, if it is overcooked, the flavor may be caramelized and the preserves may move to the browner end of the spectrum.

I looked at the recipe and instructions. If the preserves do foam, it will be during the initial cooking. All the instructions say to do after the preserves have rested is re-heat to "hot" and that's what I'd do. If there is any foaming at that point it would be minimal (some small flecks) but generally if it's been well-skimmed, you won't see any.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 2:59PM
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Thanks - I did have some foaming initially, and I didn't skim, but after resting it looked perfect. I have no idea why the BBB processes for 20 minutes (look at some of the other recipes on pages 40-41 of the anniversary issue, they seem long too), or why it even mentions foaming upon reheating.

So next time as long as it's hot enough to turn liquid again, it's hot enough to process, and process the standard 5-10 minutes?

I seem to have gained some more headspace too as it cooled - seems to be a common problem of mine, but I guess hot syrup takes up more space than cold jelly/jam?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 8:14PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

You probably got more headspace because some of the berries absorbed syrup during processing. That means despite the rest time it wasn't sufficient for the berries to fully absorb the optimal amount.

That, by the way, is why berries float. The syrup is a greater density than the berries and unless they've absorbed every bit of syrup possible, they'll still be lighter.

So if you want a reason to be sure the berries don't float after the rest period (allowing time for that absorption) and processing, be sure they're fully hot (I'd go just below the boil) and stir them in the jar before applying the lids.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 12:31PM
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Wow, problems logging in again and now this annoying ad at the bottom of the screen.

Preserves are gummy - like taffy. Don't taste carmelized, but definitely cooked too long (sure the 20 minutes in the canner didn't have something to do with it?). Next time I should let them rest longer (hmm, don't remember now when I first cooked them - late at night I think so rested only about 12 hrs?) and not cook again, just reheat. And process only 5-10 minutes, not 20!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 1:28PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm sure, LOL. Ideally what you want is a high-heat rapid cook, not a long slow cook. That will lead to "taffy" because the cooking hasn't jelled the preserve, merely evaporated off the water.

Make a jam cake with them or something of that sort.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 2:36PM
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I told DD we had to make cookies - may try LindaLou's cereal bars with Carrot Cake and Strawberry!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 6:01PM
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