Two weeks ago I had the brilliant idea to pick my own strawberries. I used to do it as a child with my mom, brother and sister at Rohrbach's Orchards or Stahl's Farm in central Pennsylvania. Mind you, mom did most of the picking, while we all did most of the eating. I imagine we ended up eating exactly as many as we picked by the end of the day. I mention this story as I noticed a few kids in the field picking at the same time as I was, doing the same thing! The boy was trying to find the perfect strawberry, so at the end of 20 minutes, he still only had 3 picked. His middle sister was picking berries like a madwoman, and filled her container in the same amount of time. The youngest girl, well, she picked everything she ate so her basket was empty.
While watching the three work (or eat), I managed to pick about 10 pounds worth, naively thinking that would amount to about 10 Ball 8oz. Canning Jars. Then I brought them home, and realized how severely I had underestimated my loot. After two hours of de-stemming the berries, I had to call it quits for the night. I resumed two nights later for the canning process.
I had purchased a Ball Canning book to help guide me with Strawberry Jam, amongst all of the other veggies and fruit that I want to process over the summer. The book mentions that you need a canning pot, a tray for the jars for the pot, and other kinds of special equipment. Me, I'm cheap, so I used a 12qt stock pot and some tongs. It did the job just fine.
To make the jam, be prepared. It takes a lot of sugar. More than the eater cares to know. The recipe itself is simple. 10 cups of berries (when mashed, make 5 cups of berry/juice mixture), pectin, which is purchased in the Jello aisle of a supermarket, a bit of lemon juice, and a whole lot of sugar-7 cups worth!!!! The recipe calls for you to smash the berries, which tends to be quite a stress reliever, then boil with pectin and lemon juice, followed by adding sugar, boiling again, and then putting into the processed jars (jars that were in boiling water). Put the jam into the jar, add the lid and seal, and boil for 10 more minutes. Take the jars out and let them sit for 24 hours before moving. You will hear all of the lids pop. If they did not pop, they are not sterilized, and therefore you should eat immediately/put in fridge for current use.
The recipe makes about 8 8oz jars. My 10lbs of strawberries equated to 23 jars plus about 2 for current use. I have been eating the jam all week, and I must say, it is pretty darn delicious!