The Perfect Heartfelt Gift: Homemade Strawberry Jam
Sep25

The Perfect Heartfelt Gift: Homemade Strawberry Jam

Summer is Gone and Gift Giving is Upon Us

Easy low sugar strawberry jam with Pomona’s Universal Pectin

Looking for the perfect personalised gift?

Already missing the colors and flavors of summer? 

Make some easy winter strawberry jam and feel the rays of summer sun shining right in your kitchen! Bonus? This recipe is for low sugar strawberry jam and you can even substitute in honey, agave or stevia! 

Tie up your jam jars with pretty bows and custom kraft labels and you’ve got the perfect holiday gift or end of year thank you for your clients, customers or friends and family.

Everytime I give my jam as a gift, everyone is absolutely delighted. It’s the first thing they mention when they see me and most of them are very careful to return the empty jam jar.  Some straight-out explaining that they hope to get a re-fill next season! 

Why Strawberry Jam?      

Because it’s the best. I’ve had a long-standing love affair with strawberries. At the age of three, I ate an entire mixing bowl full of strawberries that my mom had prepared for a cake. Soon after I broke out in hives, but like all obsessive lovers, a little bump in the road didn’t stop me from coming back for more.

For years the only flavor of ice cream I ate was “strawberry” and my favorite person in the world was my grandmother, who made a tantalizing batch of strawberry jam every summer. Ripe, juicy, sweet strawberries are still my favorite fruit. 

Grandmother’s Strawberry Jam

My grandmother, bless her heart, continued making strawberry jam every year into her late eighties. A few years after she’d retired from the strawberry jam business, I decided I needed to follow in her footsteps and learn how to make my own strawberry jam.

First, I called up my grandmother to get her recipe, forgetting of course that my grandmother, a fabulous cook, didn’t actually have recipes. She had habits and instincts from all her years of cooking that she magically implemented in the kitchen.

That said, what she did have were plenty of tips, the so-called “secret sauce” or insider knowledge that takes an average recipe and makes it delicious. 

The Inside Scoop

My phone call to granny did not disappoint. I learned that I needed a recipe for strawberry jam with pectin. She recommended Pomona’s Pectin and a recipe that allowed me to use lemon juice to accent the natural flavor of the strawberries.  Adding lemon juice both brings out the flavor of the strawberries and allows you to use less sugar.  

My grandmother told me that to get a the strongest strawberry flavor, to use the least amount of sugar possible, adjusting upward for berries lacking in natural sweetness. She said she rarely used more than a cup of sugar in a recipe. Guess what, Granny’s strawberry jam is so good, because it is low sugar strawberry jam! 

A low sugar strawberry jam recipe is healthier,  but most importantly, the reduced sweetness really makes space for the flavor of the strawberries to shine through. Especially when accented by the lemon juice. Don’t worry, you can’t actually taste the lemon, it just magically makes the strawberry flavor “pop.” And don’t worry, the jam is still plenty sweet. It’s just not cotton candy sweet!

In addition to my grandmother’s advice on making the jam, she also suggested that I should pick up a copy of the Ball Canning Guide. The one and only definitive book on preserving food that you will really ever need. 

Make Strawberry Jam anytime of year!

Frozen  berries?                 

For a few years after my first son was born, I lived in a house that had a huge strawberry patch. For the last 7 years, I’ve had to make do with store-bought (or farmer’s market) berries. The first year we moved away, I missed strawberry season due to the move, so I decide to try the recipe with frozen strawberries.  And guess what, this recipe works fantastic, even with frozen berries! Trust me the flavor will still knock your store bought jam right out of the ball park!  

Yes, you read that correctly, you can even make jam from FROZEN BERRIES. 

Winter Strawberry Jam from Frozen Berries

If you want to make strawberry jam in the fall or winter (or really anytime it suits your fancy) a 2-pound bag of frozen strawberries will do just fine. Defrost overnight in the fridge and drain before using.

I put mine straight into a colander over another bowl to drain so the juice and water drip out as they defrost. Once the berries are fully defrosted and drained, you’ll mash them with a fork and follow the recipe below.

Everything else is the same!    

Why Low Sugar?

Some jam recipes call for an equal weight of sugar to fruit. With Pomona’s pectin you can make jam with as little as ¾ cup sugar (I like 1 cup). Or you can use honey, agave or even Stevia! The key is not to overcook your jam as this ruins the pectin. What could be more enticing than fast cooking, easy to make jam that is low sugar and thus  healthier, tastier, and easier to make!   

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

Jam Making (Canning) Supplies: do I really need them?

If you have never before made jam or canned any other foods, you will have to make a small investment into proper canning supplies. This is not a place to cut corners or “cheat.” If you are going to can, you need to do it right.

When I first started to make jam, I bought a big canning pot, but not tongs or a funnel. The result? I nearly got a 3rd degree burn removing my jars from the canner and it was impossible to fill my jars without spilling the jam. Regardless of where you buy your supplies, check-out the link below to a canning kit and make a list of everything you will need.

The good news is that these supplies are timeless. Once you have bought your supplies, you can use them for years and pass them on to your kids!

Shh! A secret tip: if you are terrified by the sterilizing process, then simply make sure your jars are cleaned with warm soapy water and store your finished product in the fridge. This is tricky for gift giving, but if you plan to eat your jam, it’s just fine! If you plan to give your jam as a gift, bite the bullet and do it right!

Canning  & Gift Giving Supplies

Affiliate links . . . when you click on these and order your supplies, I make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Pomona’s PectinStainless Steel 5-quart ColanderStainless Steel WhiskStainless Steel 8-Quart Stock PotDigital Kitchen ScaleBall Mason 4oz Quilted Jelly JarsCanning Kit, 9-Piece½” Red Satin RibbonKraft Paper Vintage Gift TagsNeed gift ideas?

3 Easy Steps to Making Your Jam

(set aside 2 to 3 hours)

Prepare and Sanitize Your Jam Jars & Lids

Once you have all your ingredients and supplies laid out and clean. The very first thing you want to do is to prepare your jars. This part might sound really scary. It’s not. I promise!

Preparing your jars just means you need to boil them. And although jam is often made in the summer this is actually a perfect fall and winter activity, because all the steam warms your kitchen right up!

  1. Even if brand new and or apparently clean, wash your jars with warm soapy water or on a light cycle in your dishwasher. I use the dishwasher.
  2. Prepare you large canning pot (canner) with water. Sterilize your jars by placing them right side up on the rack of your canner. Make sure the water is at least 1 inch above jar tops. If you are at sea level, boil your jars for 10 minutes.
  3. If you are at a higher elevation, add 1 minute for each additional 1,000 feet of elevation. So if you live on the Colorado plains like me, boil your jars for 16 minutes.  
  4. Turn off the flame or heat, but keep the jars in the hot water and don’t disturb them until they are ready to be filled. Right before you fill them remove them to a heatproof surface or towel and drain them.
  5. Lids: wash the lids and bands with warm soapy water or on a light cycle in your dishwasher (or according to the directions on the package). Keep them clean and untouched until ready to be applied.

Making Grandmother Mary’s Easy and Delicious Strawberry Jam Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Quart Strawberries (about 2 pounds / 900 g) – fresh or frozen strawberries 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp pectin water
  • 2 tsp pectin powder
  • 1 cup white sugar

Note:

The first rule is only make exactly this recipe. Unless you are a super experienced jam maker, never attempt to double a recipe. If you are making jam to give as a gift and you need more, make separate batches. Once you have the process set-up, it will work best this way anyhow!

If you are using frozen berries, use their weight (see kitchen scale above) after they are thawed and drained, not before!

  1. Follow standard canning procedures to prepare your jars & lids. Leave in hot water until ready to fill (see above).
  2. Follow instructions on Pomona’s Pectin to prepare your calcium water. Set-aside. (Ideally, store leftovers in a container with a lid unless you are making multiple batches of jam.)
  3. Clean, chop and mash about 1 quart or 2 pounds (900 grams) of strawberries to yield 4 cups of mashed fruit. Drain off any excess water (fresh or frozen berries).
  4. Add strawberries and lemon juice to a stainless steel 8-quart saucepan. Stir in two teaspoons of calcium water.
  5. Mix 2 tsps of pectin powder into your sugar. Use a wire whisk and make sure it is completely and evenly mixed. No clumps. Set aside.
  6. On medium heat bring your fruit mixture to a full boil.
  7. Stir in your sugar and pectin mixture while mixing with a wire whisk.
  8. Stir continuously for about 2 minutes until the sugar and pectin are completely dissolved and the mixture returns to full boil. If it foams, just scoop off the foam.
  9. Don’t over cook. Don’t cook* any longer than a few minutes! This is why this is EASY.
  10. Remove from heat. Can while hot!

*Many jam recipes call for 15 minutes or more of cooking and a wrinkle test to see if the jam set. If you do this with Pomona’s Pectin, it degrades the pectin and it won’t work! 

3) Filling Your Jam Jars

  1. Remove jars from water and drain. Set rightside-up on a heatproof surface.
  2. Use your canning tools (funnel, tongs, etc.) to pour jam into hot jars leaving ¼ to ½ inch space from the top.
  3. If you spill any jam on the jar lip, use a very clean (sterile) paper towel or cotton cloth dipped in a bit of boiling water to wipe down the edge. Your jam lip should be clean at least 1/4 an inch from the top.
  4. Once you have poured all the jam, apply the lids and seals following the instructions on your packaging.
  5. As the jars cool you will hear them “pop!” This means the seal has been made and your jars will be shelf-stable. Don’t move or touch anything until the are 100% cooled down. This may be overnight!
  6. Once your jars are cool label them, wrap with a bow, do whatever you wish to dress them up! I like to use a red satin bow and a kraft tie for a vintage look. 

Variations:

  • Replace strawberries with raspberries or blackberries
  • Replace 1 cup sugar with 1 cup honey or 1 cup agave (changes flavor)
  • Pectin free: A friend’s grandmother made a very simple and yummy jam recipe with strawberries and other berries. Instead of using pectin, she simply added sugar and sliced lemon to the berries and then cooked them up to the jam stage. She made sure to include a lemon slice in each jar, which is very pretty! If you can’t find pectin, try this and let me know how it goes! David Lebovitz has a lemon only recipe, but I’ve not yet tried it out!

Resources:

If you love this recipe and you want to do more canning or you want to learn more about pectin free canning read this article from the Colorado State Extension.

Pomona’s Universal Pectin also has lots of online resources, including a PDF of their recipes.

Want to Grow Your Own Berries?

If you have the time and space to raise your own strawberries now (fall) is the time to plant them, so get going! Why grow your own? Even if organic berries can now be bought year-round at the grocery store? Unless the birds get them first, homegrown berries are simply sweeter, so you can use less sugar. 

Show the Love

Did you love this recipe? Have you tried it? Do you have any questions? Be sure to comment below and share the recipe with your friends. 

https://www.alibcandid.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Spread-Joy-200×300.pnghttps://www.alibcandid.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Low-Sugar-Strawberry-jam-3-200×300.png

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Why practice makes progress. Don’t be a wannabe!
Sep14

Why practice makes progress. Don’t be a wannabe!

Bill Border

My father, Bill Border, started his life as an artist around the age of 7 or 8 with simple pencil and a legal pad from his dad’s office. When you ask him why he sketches and paints, he responds that he is “simply driven to create.” Growing up as his daughter, I know this to be an honest answer.

Driven to Create

Not only did I watch my father illustrate biology textbooks and interpretive panels until late at night, painting on the weekends, I watched him create in all other aspects of his life. He cared for our mountain home just as if the property belonged on a canvas.

Every brick on our patio he laid to perfection in a perfectly leveled bed of sand. The bricks alternating direction to create a pleasant patchwork pattern. As a kid, my parents paid me a penny per weed-pulled to keep this master piece clean and sully free.

If my mom or I left a grocery list or note on the kitchen table, we returned to find it illustrated with a comical character and an appropriately goofy message. Or sometimes he simply copied our handwriting so perfectly, that we didn’t realize he’d added “56 sardines” after the milk and bread on our list.

My grandmother collected smooth rocks, which she kept in a planter in the corner of her living room. Periodically, they’d appear perfectly painted, a little grey mouse or a bunny with whiskers, peaking out of the greenery…

Cinq Chevaux

Make your bed.

A video traversed the web a few weeks ago profiling a graduation speech by a respected general. Start the day by making your bed and you will have already accomplished one task.

This is also my father’s mantra and perhaps alongside his drive to create, the the second indicator of his lifetime success as an artist.

Each night, my father prepares a to-do list on a small yellow legal pad. He preps his coffee machine with fresh water and coffee grounds. And he goes to bed.

In the morning, the very first thing he does is make his bed. If you knock on his door even a few minutes after he wakes up, you’ll never know he slept the night before. The bed will have already been made with military precision.

Before he gets in the shower he lays out his uniform for the day. The outer layer will vary depending on his plans, but the underlayer never changes. Each morning he selects from his dresser drawer, a neatly folded white crew neck tagless undershirt, white boxers, and white socks, rolled up military style.

Maintain a Routine

During my early childhood my dad laid these items out on his bed, before he got in the shower. During my late teenage years a feisty Himalayan cat named Thani joined our family. My dad adored the cat. The cat adored stealing my dad’s socks, while he was in the shower.

Ultimately, my dad had to relocate his socks to the top of his dresser. A few years ago he confided in me that he is such a creature of habit that even though Thani passed over the rainbow bridge a decade ago, he continues to layout his socks up high on the corner of his dresser.

Practice Makes Progress

My dad is now 84. Except for the past few years of his life in which he has unfortunately had to spend a few nights here and there in the hospital, my dad has created art everyday of his life. As his daughter, I can recognize his brush stroke in an instance, but I am continually surprised by the works that come out of his studio.

Recently I heard a rephrasing of the old idiom “practice makes perfect.” The new idiom is “practice makes progress.” I think my dad is the epitome of this philosophy. The act of painting is never to create perfection, but rather as my dad says, “to capture a fleeting moment in time, realistically frozen or perhaps an abstracted essence that flows eternally.”

Whatever you want to be or do. Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for progress. Work on it everyday that you can. And you will arrive.

Republished on Medium

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Don’t Get Burned: You Need to Know the 7 Fresh Ways to Identify a Xennial Woman
Sep09

Don’t Get Burned: You Need to Know the 7 Fresh Ways to Identify a Xennial Woman

Don’t Get Burned: You Need to Know the 7 Fresh Ways to Identify a Xennial Woman

Earlier this summer a Facebook meme caught my eye, it read something to the effect of “How to know if you’re a Xennial.” I took a quick look and actually said out loud, “Hell, yeah! I’m a Xennial. I am a Xennial Woman.” And then I shared it. True story. As time passed, every time I thought of the term “Xennial” a warm wave of happiness and contentment washed over me. Kind of like the universe just gave me a big hug. I’ve always felt like a lost generation and I just like the way the word “X-en-nial” rolls off my tongue.A few weeks later while researching a Brené Brown talk to send to a friend, I came across an interview she’d done for her newest book:

This post contains affiliate links.  Alibcandid is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.  

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

In the interview Brené says: “Defining success is one of the most powerful things you can do as a family, as a couple, individually. There is a default definition that is, ‘money, materialism, accomplishment, and achievement.’ So if you don’t come up with your own subversive definition, there is a default.”I read this statement and I had an “ah-ha!” moment. A revelation. I am a Xennial Woman. And as a Xennial Woman, I can write my own definition of success. One of the first tenants of success for me is that real success is never 100% personal, success takes a team, a community, and so, I started to think about my generation, my community of Xennial women. Yes, we need to write our own definition of success, but first, let’s get down to the business of claiming our generation. The textbook definition of Xennial (up to this point) only encompasses the years 1976 to 1983. This time frame feels a bit restrictive. I hereby declare, that if you are a woman born between 1975 and 1985, and the Xennial shoe fits, then join me in making it our own. And so, without further ado, let’s dive into why Xennial women are awesome.

Reason 1: A Xennial Woman named Sarah coined the term

I’ll start with the best reason.  The individual who coined the term, well, she’s a XENNIAL WOMAN. Sarah Stankorb, in an article in Good Magazine, coined the term Xennial.  “Xennial” combines Gen-X and Millennial to forge our own term while indicating the overlap between the two distinct generations.In the article, Sarah embraces being a Xennial, but her co-author does not. He happens to be a guy.As Xennials, we know that Sarah is an epically Xennial name. Indeed, according to the US Census Bureau, the name Sarah peaked in 1981 with 16,893 babies named Sarah (with an “h”).  Sarah is the name of my first best friend (our mothers met during pregnancy). And it is also the name of my first baby doll, the one that now belongs to my daughter.Incidentally, thanks to Elvis Costello, Alison is also a Xennial name. My mom who is not a Xennial would like you to know that our friend Costello released “Alison” 6 months AFTER my birth; thus ushering in an era of Xennials named Alison and Sarah. 

A graph

Reason 2: Xennial’s are Resilient

We don’t like whiners. We are not afraid to modify the rules to fit our objectives. We do not easily admit defeat. When we fall off our bike, we pick ourselves up and keep riding.I recall with surprising clarity the day my high school youth group invited some recent university grads of “Gen-X” to tell us about the “real world.” I didn’t learn anything inspirational from the grumpy and grungy group of Gen-Xers they brought in, except that I shouldn’t listen to naysayers and I should forge my own path.  The Gen-Xers didn’t actually tell me these things, rather they taught me by example. They’d done what they were supposed to do and they were supremely unhappy. Me on the other hand? I set my sights on “I’m gonna Heal the World.” It’s a work in progress, believe me, but I am not done yet. Xennial Women still have plenty of time to kick-butt.

Reason 3: Xennials are Humble “get it done-ers”  

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Many people praise Millennials for their confidence, I’d call them cocky.  My friends often note that for a Xennial, I am more confident than they’d expect. This always surprises, me, because we (I)  sometimes confuse cocky for confidence, and I really don’t want to be seen as cocky. Xennial women as a whole are not motivated by fame, but rather by making a difference. Xennials don’t brag about their accomplishments, Xennials just hunker down and get it done. Especially Xennial women. We also understand the importance of investing time, money and or effort into our achievements. Male math-teachers, uncles, the lady in the school office might all have told us “you can’t do that,” but for every naysayer, we had a champion. I am proud to have watched my female Xennial cohort become rocket scientists, political scientists, attorneys, doctors, and more. Most of them while also being mothers. The ones who aren’t mothers? They are awesome too. If a Xennial woman can’t find someone to do a job right, we’ll gladly do it ourselves. 

Reason 4: Xennials by nature understand life-long learning and change

Xennial Woman: do you Remember Your First Walkman?

We may not all be early adopters when it comes to tech and new fads, but we grew up in a time of unprecedented change and we excel at learning on the fly.Our parents may have played records on a HiFi, but we dubbed, redubbed, and made mix tapes on our personal recorders and our Boomboxes.  We remember distinctly the day we got our first SONY Walkman. First, we took our tunes on the road with our Walkmans, then our  Discmans, and then our iPods.

We ordered books off of Amazon in university and used Google before anyone else had heard of it…even Millennials. We are at ease with technology and without…we played the Oregon trail on Thursday at the Computer Lab, after writing in our diaries, locked with a little brass key.We got an email address at university before our parents even knew what one was… Our first cell phone fit with ease in our pockets, still only to be used only in emergency situations (or for work). And we have likely tried to explain wifi and the internet to older relatives on more than one occasion. 

Reason 5: We Read

We read (past-tense). We read (present-tense). We love book-clubs. We love our Kindles, but we also love the smell of a real print book. We remember Book Stores and Libraries (full of books, not just multi-media). We actually remember reading print newspapers. Before Candy Crush, we had Crossword puzzles (and we just might have a crossword puzzle app on our phone). We may even still subscribe to the NYT (online).  

7 Radical Traits of a Xennial Woman

We came of age in a time in which the social strings of society still seemed reasonably tied together. 

Reason 6: We are Citizens of the World

Thanks to modern broadcasting, Xennials around the world, from the USA to Madagascar to the UK and Australia, grew up watching many of the same shows and listening to the same music. American Xennials, absorbed the USA for Africa song in 1984.As the result of a major expansion of study abroad programs in the late 1990s (my university added about 30 countries to our options during my tenure), we quite possibly really experienced life abroad as a citizen of the world.We grew up with Star Wars (the movies and Reagan’s strategic defense program). Around the world, we watched the Berlin Wall fall and the break-up of the USSR. We experienced the world in which “the Russians’ love their children too.”We think that Space is the Final Frontier and that we should still give peace a chance.

Reason 7: We came of age in the Last Age of Innocence

In a post-WWII, post-Vietnam, post-Civil Rights, pre-Columbine era and pre-Internet era, we had TraperKeepers, Rainbow Bright, and My Little Ponies. Labyrinth and the Princess Bride. Queen Latifa and Prince.  The big concern at school: lunch and snack items with sugar as the first or second ingredient. Not whether or not someone might shoot us in the cafeteria. We studied about lies, damn lies, and statistics. We may be fascinated by and dismayed by viral media. We take this all this with a grain of salt and we know to check SNOPES before sharing.

Are Xennials generational misfits?

No. In the original article at Good Magazine, Sarah wrote: “Evidently, I am a generational misfit.” This may have been true BEFORE she wrote the text, but once she clicked “publish,” Sarah (like you and me), became a Xennial.

Alibcandid’s Definition of the Xennial Woman

A woman born between the years of 1975 and 1985. Xennial women are life-long learners, humble and resilient. We are comfortable with technology but still love a good print book. We take pride in our origins and we are citizens of the world. We believe in humankind and do our part to build a better future.

Did I leave anything out? What would you add? 

Xennial Women you have a mission:

  • Own your definition of success;
  • Take care of yourself, be resilient;
  • Stay humble, but be confident;
  • Keep learning;
  • Keep reading;
  • Be proud of your origins and be a citizen of the world;
  • Make a difference. 

Press the spacebar to continue…

Just kidding! Hit “share” and tag your favorite Xennial (or 12). It’s a movement!

Let’s win this one!

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