I’ve recently started channelling my inner granny. No, I haven’t started crocheting (that’s a little too hipster for my blood), I’ve actually started getting into the lost art of preserving. But before you say; “Oh wow that’s interesting” just know that it’s the most addictive thing in the history of ever. I don’t know why but ever since I learned to make my own strawberry jam a few weeks back I have been preserving everything!
The freedom of being able to make, and preserve all my favourite things at home is exhilarating and now I can’t stop. My house is starting to look a little like a doomsday bomb shelter – salsas, pickles, jams, sauces, you name it, I’m preserving it! Luckily for me, preserving is the hottest trend in cooking so I’m not too phased about being labelled an old granny. So, if there’s one hobby you should be taking up this year, make it preserving – because how many hobbies end with you eating your creations?
I got my first ‘hit’ of this rather addictive drug at a preserving workshop a few weeks back and after seeing just how easy it is to make my own strawberry jam I knew that preserving was for me. Seriously, 2 large jars of strawberry jam took just 30 minutes to make! But that wasn’t even the best part – as I sat there, lovingly staring at my creation I was told that this little jar of jam could sit on my shelf, unrefrigerated, for up to a year! That’s right, I could make oodles of jam now and still have jam for months to come. Which means, no more artificial preservative-laden jams for me! The secret is in the lid and bands which seal the goodies inside your jar, keeping things airtight and fresh for weeks to come.
The jam we made was crazy easy and in just three quick (ish) steps I had my own homemade jam! We started off by slicing the strawberries and then crushing them in a large pan with a fair amount of sugar. After giving the strawberries and sugar mixture time to thicken and gel it was time to start funnelling it into the jars which we had pre-heated in simmering water. We placed the lids and bands on the jars and then lowered the jars into boiling water for 10 minutes to seal. And, that was it – easy peasy!
But how do you get into this lost art of cooking? Well, the good news is, it’s a lot easier than you think! I started my journey with the Ball Jar Home Preserving Starter Kit which includes a preserving rack, 3 x 500ml Ball Jars with lids and bands, basic preserving utensils, and a home preserving guide and recipe booklet. Once I used up all three jars in my kit I bought a few more Consol preserving jars from Pick n Pay and Takealot. These Ball Preserving Kits aren’t available in South Africa any more but Consol’s jars are very similar and do the same job.
Now that you’ve fallen in love with preserving it’s time to share some fabulous recipes with you. Below is the recipe for strawberry jam that I tried out a few weeks ago.
Easy Strawberry Jam
Makes about 8 (135ml) jars
Strawberries and sugar combine to create this easy strawberry jam. Try out this recipe, then make it your own as you discover new twists to this favourite preserving recipes.
You will need:
4 cups (1L) crushed strawberries
3 cups (750mL) granulated sugar
8 (135ml) Ball® glass preserving jars with lids and bands
PREPARE preserving pot. Wash jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Heat jars in simmering water. Set lids and bands aside.
COMBINE crushed strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and gels. Remove from heat. Skim off foam.
LADLE hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch (0.5cm) headspace. Wipe rim. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
PROCESS filled jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove pot lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store up to 1 year in the pantry.