First of all, I would like to thank everyone for all of their heartfelt comments over the first 4 weeks of these prompts. I am diligently working my way through all of the posts that I have missed and commenting on each one as I think that is one of the best parts of being in a hop like this, getting to know everyone on a deeper level, taking the time to really connect ( remember my word for the year?) I find there is so much more to be gained by doing so than simply fullfilling my prompt for the week.
I have also begun to respond to comments left here on this blog in the comment section as there are quite a few that come through as noreply comment @ blogger so you can read my responses right here instead of individual emails.
Now on to week 5, can it really be 5 weeks already???
Sally's prompt for week 5 in her own words-
"Have you ever taken a moment to notice all the hearts that come into your life everyday? From candy hearts, patterns on clothes, a paper heart you make yourself or heart shaped spirals made from the ornate rod iron fencing that you may or may not have ever noticed on your walk around the neighborhood, hearts are hidding everywhere. This week pay attention to your surroundings, think outside the box and capture a heart! "
It is strawberry season in Florida where we are still visiting and something I love to do is make strawberry jam when they are at their peak of freshness.
Part of my word for the year to reconnect is to reconnect with ALL things I love and canning is one of them and something I had gotten away from save for a few batches of jam here or there each year.
As I was hulling the strawberries for a batch this week, I pulled back the green leaves and was getting ready to cut when the sight of this heart stopped me in my tracks!
So this is my found heart for this week.
You can click here to go see how everyone else captured a heart this week!
A lot of people who have never made homemade jam shy away thinking it is a lot of work but it is really very simple and very gratifying.
I personally use Sure Jell and Certo in my recipes and before the holidays discovered that if you go to www.kraftrecipes.com
and type sure jell or certo in the search box, no less than 179 recipes pop up.
Chocolate Raspberry Spread, Wine Jelly, Strawberry Pineapple, Pineapple Jam, & Cherry Almond all of which have gotten rave reviews.
It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment and supplies to make jam.
Start with firm fresh fruit when possible. For strawberries, wash and hull and drain in a colander.
I use a blender but depending how fine you like the fruit in your jam, you can even just crush the fruit by hand. I like mine smooth with tiny bits of fruit, not large pieces.
Measure fruit and sugar, for this recipe it takes 5 cups of pureed fruit and 7 cups of sugar. I also made the lower sugar version which takes 6 cups of fruit and 4 cups of sugar.
Dump the fruit in the stock pot, add a tablespoon of butter to reduce foaming, dump one box of sure jell in, stir and put on medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to boil which only takes a couple of minutes.
When it hits a boil, dump all the sugar in and stir rapidly to prevent scorching and continue to stir until it reaches a full rolling boil again. Stir for one full minute and then remove from heat.
Now what I haven't shown you here is that I have washed my jelly jars and placed them in a pan in the oven on 200* to stay hot until i am ready to fill them. I also have a small pot of water on the stove which when it came to a boil I turned the burner off and put the jar lids and bands in to sit until ready to use. I also have my pressure canner pot ( just because it is the largest one I have here, but you can even use another stock pot) filled with water on a simmer until ready on the back burner.
And since it is a rather quick process at this point, i don't have a photo of the funnel and filling the jars, but you just take your jars out of the oven and using the funnel, one by one fill the jars with the hot jam to within an 1/8" of the top, place a flat lid and a band on each jar, hand tighten and place in the water bath in your large pot. Make sure the water is covering the tops of the jars by an inch or 2.
Bring water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, ( no lid) then remove jars and let cool on the counter.
As they cool you will hear the satisfying "POP" of the lids as they vacuum seal down.
The process is pretty much the same for each jam recipe, any variances will be in the ingredients.
It may seem complicated but the whole process only takes about a 1/2 hour start to finish ( once the fruit is hulled) I actually prefer to make several batches, even different ones once I have everything out and going. While the batch is in the water bath I clean up and gather the ingredients for the next batch and start over.
It is a great activity to do with kids as it goes quickly and they have something very tangible to enjoy at the end and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Shown L-R, strawberry pineapple, regular strawberry and low sugar strawberry. You can tell the low sugar version is much more fruit dense and less sugar.
This however is the full sugar version :) on a piece of sourdough toast
But the sweetest thing of all was being able to spend the time with my Mom in the kitchen, working together we made 6 batches in 4 hours.
Love you Mom.