In the last few years, canning has made a major comeback. What many used to do out of necessity has now become a favorite hobby for the gastronomically-inclined. Not surprising, I fall into the latter category.
Before moving to Canada, I wanted to make sure I was stocked up on fresh jam. I've become so spoiled living in California with the long growing season and amazing local produce. No more farmers' markets for me that far up north, though I did just purchase a foraging guide for Northern Ontario in hopes of finding wild blueberries and black morel mushrooms.
For this canning session, I decided to make a slight variation on a traditional strawberry jam by adding in balsamic vinegar for a bold flavor. Don't be intimidated by the canning process! I am no expert by any means. You'll find that you learn something new with each batch (like to call your failed runny jam "Ice Cream Sauce" instead).
Balsamic Strawberry Jam Recipe
5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar (the only ingredient should be "mosto")
6 Tbsp Ball RealFruit Classic Pectic
5 cups granulated sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass jars with lids and bands
Start by removing the lids from your jars and running the glass through the dishwasher to sterilize. Set the lids and bands in a pot of water on the stove to later be sterilized.
While the jars are being cleaned, rinse your strawberries and remove the tops. Crush your strawberries in a large, rimmed cookie sheet with a potato masher. I like to leave some larger chunks in mine for texture.
Combine strawberries, lemon and balsamic in a large saucepan. Mix in pectin. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir the mixture the whole time to prevent burning on the bottom.
(Now turn on the burner to start boiling the lids and bands.)
Add the sugar to the strawberry mixture, continuing to stir, and bring back to a rolling boil. Keep stirring and allow to boil hard for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam.
Retrieve your jars from the dishwasher and begin ladling the hot jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove lids from boiling water, center on jar and tighten band until fingertip tight (don't tighten it too much because you want the air bubbles to escape during the canning process).
If you have a canning pot, you know the drill. Otherwise, you can use any large pot with enough water to cover the tops of the jars. Once the water is boiling, lower in the jars and set your timer for 10 minutes. In Lake Tahoe, due to altitude, I boil for another 10 minutes.
When the timer goes off, remove jars and allow them to cool, listening for the *POP* of the lids. After 24 hours, check the seals by pressing in the center of the lid. If done properly, there should be no flex in the lid.