The availability of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables is one of the benefits of living in Florida. Strawberries are in season now, much earlier than the rest of the country. Because the strawberry harvest normally runs from November through April, Florida strawberries are sometimes called winter strawberries. March is the peak of Florida strawberry season. Early strawberries are just as delicious.
Strawberry season is the perfect time to make strawberry jam. I took my grandkids to the pick-ur-own strawberry patch, and we picked enough to make severals pints of fresh Florida strawberry jam. My grandson ate as many as he picked.
My granddaughter, who doesn’t yet appreciate the damp sandy feeling of the Florida soil, stayed on high ground and guarded our strawberries.
Pick-ur-own strawberry farms opened in January. Strawberry season overlaps with blueberry season in April, and blueberry season overlaps with blackberry and raspberry season in early May. By then, watermelons will be ripe. It will be time for watermelon Italian ice.
- 5 cups crushed strawberries (about 8-10 cups whole berries)
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, seeds removed (about ½ medium lemon)
- 7 cups sugar
- 1 package (1.75 ounce) powdered fruit pectin
- 8 Ball 8-ounce jars with lids and rings
- Waterbath canner (21½ quart with rack and cover)
- Jar funnel, jar lifter, and magnetic lid lifter
- To prepare jars: Wash jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Put jars in the waterbath canner, and cover completely with water. Bring a simmer (don’t need to boil). In a small saucepan, add lids and bring to a simmer. You don’t need to add the rings. It is important to keep jars and lids hot or your jam might not seal.
- To make the jam: Wash and prepare strawberries. Remove the hull and slice in half. Place strawberries in a deep bowl or pot and crush using a potato masher. Crush enough strawberries until you have 5 cups of crushed strawberries. Make sure large pieces of strawberry are removed. In a six or eight quart saucepan, add crushed strawberries and lemon juice. Stir, or whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir sugar in quickly, all at once, and return to a full rolling boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Remove any foam that has settled on top of the hot mixture.
- To process the jam: Remove one jar at a time from the canner. Empty the water in the jar back into the canner. Fill jars within ¼ or an ⅛ of top. Wipe jar lids and threads. Center lid on jar, add ring, and screw tightly. Place all jars in canner. Add enough water to cover by at least one inch and increase heat to high. Once the water reaches a full boil, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid. Allow jars to rest for 5 minutes, then remove from pot. Let cool completely before storing.