Last Sunday I cycled out to Verrill Farm near Concord and picked just over 5 pounds of strawberries, which I hauled back via commuter rail / bike to the station and from the station, about 6 miles. The first few weeks of June are strawberry season in Massachusetts, and the picking was prime. At the farm I was told, "You can go anywhere in the field. Come back here when you're done to pay, they're $2.75 a pound." A few strawberries got slightly but not unusably crushed on the way back, but overall I'd deem this acquisition method successful.

The plan for the berries? Make jam, using this recipe. The next day I bought another two quarts of strawberries at the farmer's market in Central Square since I wanted to make a lot of jam and was paranoid that my haul wouldn't be enough. This brought the total quantity of strawberries to 24 cups. That evening, the jam-making commenced.

Washed berries with the green tops removed:

washed berries with green tops removed

Sterilizing the jars:

sterilizing mason jars

And the lids.

sterilizing the jar lids

While keeping the jars and lids hot, I mashed and cooked the berries, adding sugar and lemon juice along the way:

mashing and cooking the berries

Somewhere between the half-hour and one-hour cooking point I declared the jam done, filled 10.5 mason jars with the stuff, and then boiled the filled jars.for 15 minutes to seal them.


finished jam

All in all, the jam-making portion took about 4-5 hours including stemming the farmer's market strawberries (but not the hand-picked ones). Much of that time was merely watching the pots.

The resulting jam is delicious, though perhaps just slightly more runny than jam ought to be. (Maybe I screwed up by not skimming the foam?) I'm looking forward to "canning" (why is it called canning? it goes in jars!) other fruits of the season as the summer progresses. I've even bought a pair of canning tongs and a wide-mouth funnel to avoid the hilarity of removing full jars from boiling water, terrified that the regular tongs will slip and drop the jar and its contents to doom.

Canning is great! Especially if you have a pressure canner like yours appears to be. You don't have to skim the foam, that's more of a visual thing than a safety, taste, or consistency thing. If your jam is too runny, try using a pectin recipe (like this one from Ball: rather than a non-pectin one. The pectin will help it set more and faster. If you don't want to use pectin for some reason, cooking it down longer will produce a thicker jam. If you really want to get into canning, I highly suggest the UDSA "bible" for canning. It's available online at It lists all of the safe processing times for almost any food you can imagine.
Comment by elwing2000 [] Mon 21 Jun 2010 03:01:34 PM UTC