I am a self proclaimed picky eater. As a kid, I think the only thing I would generally always eat was chicken fingers and fries. Occasionally some spaghetti and red sauce. So it’s no surprise that I have some real opinions about jams and jellies. Myself – I like jellies. I don’t want to deal with any seeds or pieces of fruit, which are the signature of a jam.
I was lucky enough to find a large bunch of strawberries for a great price. I couldn’t resist buying them, and since I wasn’t really craving strawberries at the time I thought that making jelly would be a great use for them.
It’s always a good idea to wash and sort through your strawberries as they are notorious for quickly deteriorating in quality and they can get moldy fast. Sort out any bad ones and cut off the stem end and quarter the remaining strawberries.
You’re going to want to have 8 cups of quartered strawberries for this recipe.
Put the strawberries and 1 cup of water in heavy bottomed pan.
It’s important to use a nice low medium heat to cook the strawberries, they have a gentle flavor and too much heat could take away some of the flavor. (this is just in my mind – mind you, I could be wrong) In general you don’t burn things when you use a lower heat, and 8 cups of strawberries is not something you want to burn. There is no fixing burned. Burned anything, has to be thrown away, so just be mindful of the heat intensity.
So once you cook down the strawberries you need to strain out all of the bits and pieces of the fruit and also strain out all of the seeds. There are special bags made for this, but I have never felt the necessity to have them, I use a sieve over a large Pyrex measuring cup. During the straining process you will occasionally have to help the stawberries strain through by gently pressing with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula.
Once everything is strained you should have about 4 cups of liquid. If you find that you are coming up short, make up for it by adding a little water to make sure you have the 4 cups.
You have to heat up the fruit juice before you can add the fruit pectin. Once you have reached a simmer it’s time to add 2 packets of fruit pectin. Yes, TWO packets, trust me. I’ve made this a million times, and 1 packet will get you more of a fruit spread type consistency. But if you prefer that, or if you are feeling stingy with the pectin just add the 1. This is still going to be so good. Anyways, I use 2.
Make sure you fully dissolve the pectin into the fruit juice before move on. Just stir and make sure there aren’t any lumps of pectin. You’re also going to need to bring this back up to a simmer
Once the pectin is stirred in and everything is simmering add the sugar. 5 cups. 5 cups of sugar is a lot, and it is good to be mindful of this when you are spreading this jelly, or any jelly, for that matter – on your toast. They all are LOADED with sugar. Sugar is just a necessary part of jams and jellies, and let’s be honest, that’s part of the reason it’s so good. So you also need to make sure that the sugar is dissolved in – just like the pectin. If you have any undissolved sugar, it can cause the jelly to crystallize in the jar later on. It doesn’t really do anything but cause the texture to change, and some people find it undesirable. ( I am one of THOSE people)
So now you need to increase the heat, to get the jelly to a rolling boil. I have a friend who refers to this as “gallumphing” kind of pronounced: gal – lumf – ing. I have also adopting this phrase. But it is really just another way we use to refer to rolling boil. A boil that does not stop when you stir it. Often times you will notice that the volume of the jelly will appear to increase as you reach the rolling boil stage. The jelly will shrink back down once you remove the heat.
It’s important to have your jars cleaned and ready for you before you need them.
Fill the jars with the jelly. Leave some space at the top, no more than a half inch, no less than a quarter inch. Screw on the lids. (Make sure that you have washed both pieces of the lid too) You’re going to put all of the jars into a large pot full of boiling water. Put a rack in the bottom of the pot so that the jars aren’t resting directly on the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to bring the water up to a rapid rolling boil. You can help the heat increase by putting a lid on top of the pan. Once you have a rolling boil, set a timer for 15 minutes.
When the timer goes off congratulations, you have made homemade jelly and canned it. Remove the jars from the boiling water, and let them cool. You can stick around and listen for the tell tale “ping” that lets you know you have had canning success!