Homemade Strawberry Jam

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Scarlett is an only child unless you count her three siblings: Sophie, Chloe and Simon. Our best friends, Susanne and Duncan Coutts, were always like family to my husband and I. However, once we started adding children to our lives, our friendship wove itself into a tighter and more substantial relationship. We are Godparents to their twins. They are Godparents to Scarlett. And I’m pretty certain that Simon is the first boy Scarlett French kissed. We celebrate holidays together, have pancake breakfasts and even vacation in Florida. However, our entire investment in this relationship has always just been a foil to get a jar of the famous Coutts jam–a family tradition carried out by Duncan’s parents. Obviously, I’m kidding but the jam has earned a certain amount of infamy.

I’d watched for years as Duncan’s parents, the eloquent and soft-spoken Mary and the towering and loving John, would unload jars and jars at the Coutts’ family home. They’d almost always be earmarked for gifts around the holidays or special occassions. One day I knew we’d score our own.

When we did, it didn’t disappoint.

When Susanne and Duncan decided that it was time to involve their children in John’s yearly jam-making ritual (without the beloved Mary who had since passed), I couldn’t resist asking them for a briefing on the event.

The family made a trip up to Duncan’s family cottage on Lake Rosseau and spent a day picking organic strawberries at a local farm. The next day, under the careful guidance of the 81-year young John, the kids used the equipment that Duncan’s grandfather had always crafted his jam upon. The fourth-generation to make Coutts jam, Sophie, Chloe and Simon cleaned and crushed all the berries. Susanne allowed them to watch the boiling process by standing on stools across the kitchen, yet the older girls were allowed to stir occassionally. They also sat and watched the boiling and sterilizing process of all the jars. In the end, they made 50 jars whose labels the kids decorated. (Susanne cautions to not double the recipe as it yields “watery” jam.) This batch of jam was used as teacher’s gifts at the end of the year, and the girl’s boasted with pride as they explained they made it themselves. I have yet to get my own jar. I remain hopeful.

I hope this inspires you to start your own family tradition.

Homemade Strawberry Jam – A True Family Tradition

Ingredients

  • 6 cups crushed, hulled strawberries
  • 1 package of fruit pectin crystals
  • 4 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

Method

Pour strawberries into large Dutch oven.

Combine pectin crystals with 1/4 cup of the sugar; stir into pan.

Bring to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Mix in remaining sugar; return to full rolling boil.

Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Stir for 5 minutes to prevent fruit from floating, skim off foam.

Using sterilized metal funnel and 1/2-cup (125 mL) measure, pour into hot, sterilized 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top. Cover with hot lids; screw on bands fingertip tight. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

Remove jars and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check for seal, ensuring that lids curve downward. (If not, refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.)

Store in cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

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