Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canning 101- Strawberry Syrup

I started out this recipe fully intending to make strawberry jelly. Somewhere along the line I mis-read the directions and added to much fruit. Fortunately, I ended up with some very yummy syrup. It's really great on ice cream, pancakes, in milk, & on cheesecake. You can see the full recipe I used at the very bottom.

I started out by going through my canning books. The 'Ball Blue Book' is a fairly new book that I purchased 2 summers ago. The 'Kerr Home Canning Book' is a garage sale find from a friend and the copyright is from the mid-1960's. The other 2 books came with my canning equipment and have some really good canning recipes in them and they are from the 1980's.

Once I found the recipe I wanted I started preparing my strawberries. I had some saved in the freezer and I took them out to thaw. All of these strawberries came from my garden.

Next I set up the strainer. You put the fruit in the top, turn the handle, and it deseeds them. This strainer is a must for any seedless jams, jellies, or syrups. My dad gave me this one.

The strained strawberry juice goes down to the one bowl and the seeds come out the end into the other bowl. We didn't through away the seeds but put them in our strawberry wine mix.

Here is all the fresh strawberry juice! Doesn't it look yummy?

Now I put the strawberry juice, sugar & pectin in the pot and stir, stir, stir. It will take a while but the syrup will begin to come to a boil & grow, so constantly stirring is a must. Stir for a minute longer & turn off the heat before it boils over! If you are making a jelly, dip a spoon in, if the juice gels & comes off in a sheet (doesn't drip off) then the jelly is set and ready. Here is where I realized I messed up my original measurements & I was too tired to try to figure out how to fix it so I continued on to the canning phase. In hind sight, I could have probably added another package of pectin and re-cooked it.

To can the syrup, I set up all my equipment. My stove top isn't really big enough for all these pots! All my jars were clean and I put them in one of the pots with water just covering them to heat them up to boiling. I did this to help sterilize them and so that when the hot syrup touches them they won't break (hot liquid + cold jar = bad news). Put your lids and rings in another pot and heat up but don't boil them! Boiling could result in melting off the sealant on the lids which will then result in your jars not sealing properly. That's not good either! I'll be using the water bath method for this so I'll begin boiling water in the black pan too.

After everything is set up and nearly ready to go you need to skim off the foam that has settled on top of your syrup. The foam has lots of air bubbles in it & isn't meant to be canned although it's quite yummy and if you aren't careful your little one might run off with the bowl and get a sugar high and you will let him just because you're a cool mom.

After that fill the jars leaving the correct amount of headspace. Place on the lids & screw on the rings. Don't screw them on too tight, just enough to hold everything in place. Then put the jars in the water bath and let the water begin boiling again before you start your timer for the correct processing time. (Tip!) I have hard water so I add about a tablespoon of vinegar per quart of water to the boiling water so my jars don't get a chalky film on them. This just keeps me from having to clean it all off later.

After the time is up, remove the jars and set them aside overnight to cool. Sometimes you will hear the lids 'POP!' down in place & sometimes you won't but after the jars are cool check that all the lids are properly sealed. If any of them aren't sealed you should either use what's in the jar, put it in the frig or freezer (transfer it to a freezer safe container), or re-process them immediately.

All the books I've read have said to remove the rings (to prevent rust or contamination) and then store in a cool dry place (we have several shelves in our basement out of direct sunlight where I can put everything until we're ready to use it). But I have blackberry jelly that I canned in June of 2008 & never removed the ring & they are still good. Also, I've heard that you're supposed to use up the jellies, jams, syrups in a year. I made a gigantic batch of that black berry jelly in 2008 & we are still using it up. I haven't bought any jelly since then for my sons pb&j's for his school lunches. I have no idea how much money I've saved! Anyways… My suggestion, is to use you best judgment. If it doesn't look right, smell right, taste right, then don't use it.

The recipe I used was from the 'Ball Blue Book'.

*Strawberry Jam*
Yield: about 8 half-pints

2 quarts strawberries (I used 2 quarts of strawberry juice which probably threw off my measurements. I should have used 2 quarts of whole strawberries. Lesson learned.)
7 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin (I actually bought mine at Walmart)
1/4 cup lemon juice (I don't think I added this.)

Wash strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. (Here is where I used the strawberry juice instead of the whole fruit. I didn't even think about how the volume is different!) Combine strawberries, powdered pectin and lemon juice 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. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Although, I messed up the recipe we ended up with something really yummy! I learned that next time I better follow the recipe a little better and that if I don't then all is not lost!

I hope you enjoyed & learned something too!


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