Prices are coming down on strawberries so I’m buying up what I can so that I have stock to turn into jam. I might have gotten too much. This is me preparing part of 25 lbs of strawberries. I washed, hulled, sliced, and froze all of them yesterday. It works out to five 1-gallon ziptop plastic bags.Ordinarily I wouldn’t recommend freezing strawberries as they turn to mush when defrosted but since these will become jam the mush actually works in my favor. When I’m making jam from still-fresh strawberries I will sprinkle them with some of the sugar and allow the sugar to macerate them; it makes mashing them so much easier. This is what the twenty-five pounds of berries looks like. It doesn’t seem like so much in the photo.
I also took stock (ha ha ha) of my inventory of preserves. The top shelf is strawberry jam and applesauce, next down are pureed tomatoes and apple cider jelly. The last shelf has salsa, roasted and pickled bell peppers, and chicken stock. Based on what I know of how we use them, I know I will also need to make pureed tomatoes, salsa and chicken stock.
Making jam or preserving vegetables is fairly straightforward but it is important to follow a reliable recipe. I’ve seen some fairly unsafe canning suggestions out there. In a home kitchen you just cannot safely can pureed pumpkin, or flavored oils. You also need a pressure canner to preserve products containing meat, like the chicken stock.
The rules for chicken stock are different from the jam. not only does it have to be done in a pressure canner but you need more headspace at the top of the jar. You can see that space in the photo above. The white stuff in between the stock and the lid is probably a combination of chicken fat and “scum”. The scum is what rises to the top of the pot as the chicken is cooked into stock, and clearly I was too lazy to properly skim off the scum and later to lazy to properly remove all of the chicken fat. Too much fat can compromise the seal on the jar so even though I check the seals when I move the jars to the basement for storage, I check them again when I pull the jars out.
If you ever have a jar that hasn’t sealed properly you will almost certainly have to throw out the contents. The only exception is if the seal fails in the original canning and you catch it right away.