Sunday, June 27, 2010

My First Canned Strawberry Jelly

Well, at least it tastes good and it's pretty. I do have a lot to learn but it wasn't a total disaster. In between having to paint the last of the indoor window frames (of my house, not my chicken's-to-be house) this weekend, I made my first canned homemade jelly. I could have taken the easy route and bought commercial pectin (which makes it gel) but I wanted to do it all from scratch and make it myself. Pectin naturally occurs in apples and crab apples and under ripe apples have the highest concentration of pectin. The riper the apple gets, the less it has. Basically, the process sounds easy - cut your apples up, almost cover them with water, boil until it's something like apple sauce and strain through a cheese cloth and the liquid should be pectin. Well, at least mine looked the part. So, I bought fresh pesticide-free strawberries from local farmers at the farmer's market, organic cane sugar and a little fresh lemon juice from lemons also purchased at the farmer's market. Being that it's summer, the farmer's market didn't have any apples, but I had a few from the organic co-op from when I was down in San Diego. I mashed the berries, mixed in the sugar and lemon and after it came to a boil mixed in the pectin impostor. At the designated time, I poured the soupy red mixture into my canning jars and boiled them for 15 minutes. "Pop, pop, pop", they all made a good seal while cooling. This morning I put some on my homemade wheat bread for breakfast. Well, it didn't exactly gel. But, despite the fact that it's rather runny, it has a fantastic taste, is the perfect color and I realized that I got 8 half pints of organic homemade jelly for about $1.20 a jar! So, this will do me just fine until I learn how to make pectin correctly. I'm glad to say I'm even enjoying my mistakes! I thoroughly enjoyed my wheat toast, runny strawberry jelly with dark french roast.

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