Ever wondered how to make strawberry jam? Ever wanted to do it with your kids? It’s surprisingly easy, and the results are delicious. Here’s how to do it in this week’s Screen-free Summer Life Skills Bingo.
I didn’t actually know you could make your own jam until I got married: my mother-in-law made her own blackberry jam from the bushes on her father’s farm. But knowing something can be done doesn’t mean I’ve actually done it, which is why I’m happy to welcome Rosie from A Blog for My Mom as she shares her fantastic canning and preserving skills.
How to Make Strawberry Jam with Kids
Waaaaay back before we started having any sort of homesteading plans, we got inspired by Ma Ingalls and decided to try putting up jam. We had pounds and pounds of strawberries to use up… How hard could it be, after all?
Amazingly, not hard at all! There’s a reason making jam is such a popular way to preserve fresh fruit – it’s an easy process, as long as you follow instructions. We were so proud of ourselves, we moved on to applesauce, canned peaches, refrigerator pickles… We flash froze pounds of fruit on cookie sheets, transferring them to plastic bags and containers for smoothies in the winter. We harvested herbs and dried them in the oven. It was one of our first steps on the way to becoming the homesteaders we are today!
Of course, the kids see us doing all this canning, freezing, and preserving, and they want to join in! We went strawberry picking and John Paul (7) used his own money to buy a quart of strawberries. I assumed he was going to eat them all himself, but he immediately went to work washing and hulling them. He pulled out a cookbook and found a recipe – he was making jam all by himself!
He mashed the strawberries. He juiced the lemon. He measured the sugar. He scooped the pectin.
(He offered to pay me for the lemon, sugar, and pectin, but I gave those to him for free)
Normally I make larger batches of jam and the kids help. But I let him take the reins on this one (in no small part because I was nursing the baby and trying to get the toddler down for his nap). He was extremely proud of the finished product. The only problem?
He didn’t actually follow the instructions perfectly. You have to let the mixture of strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, and pectin come to a boil or it won’t gel. And in his 7-year-old impatience, he decided that part wasn’t important. So his mixture didn’t gel. But BOY, was he proud of himself. Many experienced chefs have encountered the same issue with their jams, and unset jams make great ice cream topping!
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We use the rest of the strawberries to make 10 jars of jam, and we talked about the importance of heat in the chemical reaction that activates the pectin. Sometimes we all need a little extra guidance when it comes to mastering these life skills.
Summer is a great time to take advantage of the abundance of seasonal local produce – try going fruit picking with your kids and seeing what you can make out your harvest! Grabbing a jar of jam out of the pantry in December and tasting that little bit of fresh summer flavor makes it all worth it.
I’ve got recipes, supply lists, and tips over on my blog today if you’re hoping to try making your own jam! It’s so ridiculously easy, you’ll wonder why you’ve never tried it before.
Rosie lives in a 19th century farmhouse in Virginia with her husband, six kids, one cat, two rabbits, two roosters, eighteen ducks, seventy-two chickens, and a goat. She blogs about homesteading, homeschooling, and trying to maintain a sense of style while handling livestock and chasing toddlers. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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