Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This post is part of Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade! Go check out the fantastic posts on Real Food!

My goal these past few months has been to try to make as much as I can possibly from scratch or non-processed. Hence the urban garden, homemade sugar scrub and home made soap.

The plan: homemade strawberry jam. From scratch.

Ok, so after talking to my mom, I guess it's really not that hard to make (mom: "I just use the recipe on the Certo box"). For a normal person, but we're talking about baking-cooking challenged me here. So an event had to be planned. (making strawberry jam in our MINISCULE kitchen!)

The original plan: pick strawberries at a U-Pick ourselves and make jam. Unfortunately this did not happen (ok, so I'm not really THAT disappointed since the last time I picked strawberries I was 4 years old and the scary lady yelled at me... what? Since when is EATING the strawberries you were picking a crime?).

New plan: buy local strawberries and make jam. Do you know how much sugar goes into strawberry jam??? A lot. I have been cutting out refined sugar for months now, no way was I going back to that.

La troisieme "plan": figure out a way to make strawberry jam without pectin. There IS a way! But the stuff needs to be ordered... and strawberries are quickly going out of season. Check out Crunchy Domestic Goddess's post on using a citrus based pectin!

FINAL PLAN: buy strawberries (local preferred, at this point organic or non, we just want the berries) and use fair trade organic sugar. At least this way we may be damaging our bodies but at least no beautiful forests or slave labour was sacrificed/used. Jen, being the awesome baker that she is was all for the jam making adventure!

So- after a final call to mom, who assured us that hulling and crushing layer-by-layer was just to make it easier and in fact not crucial to the recipe (and yes, we were using the Certo recipe) AND that washing the jars would be fine for sterilization (woot germs! this one's for you Mel!) we were good to go!

4 1/2 cups of hulled squashed berries (so much fun!) and SEVEN cups of sugar. Yes. SEVEN. So. The bag of organic fair trade sugar wasn't exactly seven cups. Who knew? Sigh. So my jam, with it's potentially small footprint on the planet ended with half-half death and eco-sugar.

Also, as per usual Lisa-baking style, a huge mess was had, with shouting and a strawberry jam caused battle wound on my arm (I guess boiling strawberry sauce actually burns quite a bit!) along with the ginormous mess on our tiny apartment stove. Baking wouldn't be "real" without some sort of disaster in the Lisa household. (above- said mess)

Finally though, the sweet yummy smell of homemade jam filled the apartment and the jars (all four and a half!) and now I am left with two amazing jars filled with yummy strawberry jam! Supposedly, according to mom, overnight while they cool a popping noise will scare the crap out of my sleeping self and the vaccuum seal will have occured.

Since we don't eat a lot of jam, I would say that the next step is to making strawberry-hole cookies, you know the ones with the thumb holes filled with jam! YUM. And next year, hopefully the green-ability of my jam will be increased with local, non-sprayed strawberries (you know that they cover the plants with plastic sheets and the workers need to wear haz-mat suits due to the pesticides they spray??? ack), less sugar and no pectin :)


Photos and article copyright of ecoyogini.blogspot.com.


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  2. Now THAT looks like fun! I made some strawberry syrup for homemade yogurt (YUM!) a few months back. Looks like making the jam isn't much different than making the syrup. Will have to give it a go, especially since about every jam the grocery store carries contains HFCS... yuck! Thanks for the motivation :-)

  3. wow, looks like some heard work but the reward is so sweet!

    I started a new blog off of my regular journal blog. I moved all of my yoga posts to it. Now I have my own yoga blog - yay!

    Rootless Tree

  4. Thanks guys! Making jam will definitely occur again, next year in a greener state. Haven't yet tasted it- I'm thinking the arm burn was a bit of a deterrent for the first little bit hah.

  5. I wonder what would happen if you just reduced the sugar?

    Is it supposed to act as a preservative too? Is that why there's so much?

    Either way, I WANNA TRY!

  6. Alex: actually, in order to use the Certo-pectin based jamming stuff, you need the exact amount of sugar in the recipe- no substitutions. This is because the sugar binds to the pectin crystals.
    However- there IS a type of binding agent out there that is not dependent on sugar.
    Also- I have heard of using lemon juice, although haven't seen any specific recipes yet (I think I have a few coming my way soon!).
    I've heard it also depends if you're making freezer jam or non-freezer jam. But my mom has said that she freezes non-freezer jam and vice versa..... so as far as I can tell there isn't a HUGE difference... but I may be not quite correct on that one!

    It IS fun though!! :)

  7. This was informative...and hilarious! Adventures in jam-making!

  8. OMG we do share some kitchen adventures, don't we! Hope the results are worth your effort. Enjoy!

  9. Now this looks like a lot of fun. I intended to hit the U-pick places this year as well, but we had an unusually dry, hot spell that ended berry harvests early. So, I didn't get any. :( Maybe next year.

    Thanks for sharing this in Fight Back Fridays today!

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  10. Just a thought - freezer jam takes a lot less sugar than 'regular' jam (I happen to prefer the taste, too). Your results look great!

  11. did the jars ever pop? i'm afraid to can because of that whole needing the jars to seal or i'll die thing...

  12. Sherrie: I will be planning much better for next year... or perhaps I'll try another 'bout- still finding some organic strawberries around!

    Julia: the cans DID seal!! YAY. I guess if you press down on the lid and it doesn't move, it's been sealed. When I opened the jar (btw it tasted YUMMY) it made a popping noise :)

  13. It's me, one more time - I was at our health food store this morning and saw Pamona's Universal Pectin - I think it might be what you're looking for. :)


  14. Oh My Goodness!! It is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! I'll have to pick some up while I'm home this weekend and definitely give it a try again :) WOOT!

  15. I laughed my way through this post because this past weekend we made jam for the first time too. It may be “easy” but it is messy, time-consuming and sticky. I was also surprised out how much sugar it required and how few jars a batch made. It also quickly became an obsession. Once we got started I did not want to stop. It looks like everyone will be getting jam for Christmas (Birthday, Halloween, Groundhog Day). Luckily my kiddos eat lots of PB&J. ;-) I am glad I found your blog. I am loving it!


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