Monday, May 24, 2010

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam for Mom

So, I realize it's been a while since we sat down to chat. What have you been up to? Oh, really? How interesting. Well, since you asked, here's what I've been doing:

1. Joey lost two teeth. Surprisingly, loose teeth gross me out, so he pulled them himself. Tooth Fairy left him 50 cents and my husband called her a cheapskate. To her face.

2. My computer crashed. So long, Website! See ya, Pictures-of-the-boys-since-their-respective-births! Bye bye, photos-of-all-my-cakes! On the upside, I'm writing this blog on the first new computer I've had in 7 years!

3. DJ grew 3 inches and needed new shoes. Buzz Lightyear Sandals. He wears them to bed.

4. Joey started TBall. The Cardinals will be calling us soon, because Joey proved to everyone that he can cover any ball hit into the infield at any time. Anywhere in the infield, Joey's got it.

5. My husband's son graduated from bootcamp in San Diego. So we had to drag ourselves all the way out to California to see him. Too bad for us.

6. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law moved. Well, that really had nothing to do with me, I made my husband go help them (I am a delicate flower, after all). But I did have to pick up pizzas and make brownies on moving day.

7. I made Low Sugar Strawberry Jam for my mom. What's that? How on earth did I have time to fit that into my busy schedule? Oh, that's because I'm not human. Oh, of course! I'd be happy to share the recipe and photos of the process! I know, it's unhealthy to be this nice...
My mom was diagnosed with diabetes 37 years ago. You'd never know it to look at her, she's pretty amazing. She never asks us to get her anything "sugar-free" (she doesn't like attention called to the diabetes), and usually just eats like we eat, only in moderation. But, true to form, my dad always brings her sugar-free chocolate when he finds it, and he asked me to make this for her.
I did some research online and found that regular pectin has sugar in it, but they have brands that are "No need to add sugar". I found Ball brand that was called "No Sugar Needed". This recipe is from the insert in the box. If you're going to make these, use the insert as a guide. Don't rely on what you read here, go to the insert. Trust the experts, not the geeky food girl.

I got it at that store that rhymes with "Gall-Mart". I'm certain they have other similar brands at other Gall-Marts or Brogers, or Tublix, Eye-Dee-Kays, or Parris-Meeters.
My dad stopped bringing me strawberries, I had to go get them myself. The boys helped, and this is what I had left after 3 strawberry pies:

This is about a gallon of strawberries, give or take. Aren't they beautiful?

Cleaned, hulled and sliced. Yeah, it's a crappy job. I hate it about as much as I hate cleaning and stemming green beans. But, it's gotta be done. After cleaning/slicing/hulling, we move to the fun stuff: Squishing.

I just picked a flat-bottom bowl, put the strawberries in one layer, and started smooshing. I dumped them in a measuring cup, then repeated until I ended up with 4 cups of squished berries and their juice.

Yummy, yummy....and what a beautiful color.

Okay, we're ready to move on...let's cook those berries.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of fruit juice, with the recommended flavors being apple or white grape. The explaination is that these are "neutral flavors" and won't compete in flavor with your jams. I didn't have either of the juices, so I just used water.

Add the package of pectin slowly and stir. Keep stirring.

Bring to a boil that you can't stir down. Here comes the foam. Keep stirring or it will stick to the bottom.

The insert says you can add a little butter at this point to cut back on the foam. I'm trying to make this healthy, so I didn't add that. I just skimmed the foam. Say, wait a tick. That looks to me like it's about to boil over. We're going to need a bigger boat. But we're going to keep stirring.

That looks safer. Add 1-1/2 cups Splenda...Slowly or it will clump. Gotta stir. My arm is killing me. Skim that foam, Amy!
Bring back to a boil and remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Uh,'s necessary.
We're ready for the jars. Mine are clean and sterile (thank you Mr. Dishwasher), I just floated them in some hot tap water until ready for use. The insert said it was to keep the jars from breaking...I thought it had something to do with the seal. Either way, I did it. Ladle the mixture into the jars. If you have a jar funnel, insert here. I have one but I can't find it (shock of the century.).

The insert says to fill to 1/4 inch headspace...I fill them like this:

Can I do anything without being sloppy? No, Amy...the correct answer is no.
Now the lid...and the band, I didn't get a picture of the band.

This batch made three...are these pints? I think their pints. They're what my Grandma used to make us jelly for years. I have about 30 of these, in many different shapes and sizes.

To the canner, Batman!
Did I tell you I got a new water bath canner while I was at Gall-Mart? Yeah,'s pretty.
My new water bath canner from Gall-Mart came equiped with a rack on the bottom. If you don't have a canner, you can put a towel in the bottom of a big stock pot. Just don't set the jars directly on the bottom of the pot.
The insert said to bring them to a gentle boil for 10 minutes, then let sit in the hot water for 5 more minutes. Then they're ready to come out...this is seriously my favorite part of the new canner:
The rack comes up and sits on the rim so the jars can drip dry and cool a little before you pull them out. I know, I totally dorked out there for a second.
Pull them out (they're hot, Amy!) and let cool on a towel. If they're sealed, they won't have that little "give" in the lid. Mine were sealed straight out of the canner, but sometimes they seal while they cool. If they don't seal within 24 hours, put the jar in the fridge and eat that jam right now!

I'm not going to repeat the recipe, you just go out and get a box of the pectin. The insert is in there, I promise.

As with anything, what you buy in the store pales in comparison to homemade. If you have the means, you should try this. Go out and get yourself a package of No Sugar Needed Pectin, follow the instructions on the insert and make some jam.
It's worth it, I swear.

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