Friday, June 12, 2009

The Delicious Runt [RECIPE]

The timing was perfect...

I had two week's worth of strawberries from the farm share stowed away in the fridge and freezer.

I had managed to unearth the canner from beneath a year's worth of dust and filth muck (name that movie) in the garage intact and it magically held all of my canning tools.

I'm still stewing in my sinful sabbatical, so had some free time.

Everything was perfectly ready for me to make and can some strawberry jam, but, somehow it didn't feel quite right.

OH MAYBE because it wasn't 100 degrees in my kitchen when I started the canner at 9am?

Yeah, I'll just put this out there - canning in June is WAY more fun than canning in, say, September, when our kitchen hits a rolling boil before the double digit hours and the activity of canning tomatoes, pickles, blackberries or otherwise become an exercise in constant hydration and endurance.

I believe I've told you about the Legend of Boob Sweat and how this is an inevitable consequence of canning in our No A/C And Barely a Fan household.

Not that the heat stops me. OH NO. Although I will admit that it has permanently impaired my reasoning skills as I explained (with somewhat slurred speech - thanks Cocktail Hour!) to Bubba and my neighbors last night that I "don't so much mind the heat when I'm canning. It's part of the experience."

What am I, some kind of asshole?

Probably, but I'm definitely loosening my screws as the years tick by. "Don't mind the heat"?? Why'd I leave Phoenix, then? Because I hate palm trees?

Sometimes I'm retarded.


The point is that today is a breezy 70-something degrees and when I started the canner at 9am, it was overcast outside and I was wearing a sweatshirt.

Sure, it felt wrong in some ways, but SO right in others. Like when I smelled those strawberries gloop-glopping in the pot, for instance. That's a smell I have a hard time resisting. It's suh nice. And while I may always associate canning with the boob-sweaty heat of summer, it's a nice change of pace to appreciate the steam on my face rather than think suicidal thoughts when it rises to my chin.

Like, "Yay! Free facial!" rather than, "I'm going to use this jar lifter to strangle myself."

And, true to form, my Ball Blue Blah Bley canning book had a great little strawberry jam recipe waiting to walk me through my virgin attempt at strawberry jam.

If only all first attempts were so sweet and delightful. Draw whatever conclusions you like from that statement.

I'm sweet and delightful. But not 6 cups of sugar sweet because, Ew.
Strawberry Jam
Ball Blue Book of Preserving
My changes in


2 1/2 - 3 lbs fresh strawberries, topped and hulled
2 cups of sugar (they call for 6 (SIX!!) cups, which I find to be wayyyy too much. You make the call.)

To make
*Situate all your shit so that it's lined up all anal-retentively on your counter.

Prepare jars and lids for canning. (ie. Boil them for about 10 minutes and let them dry)

Begin water boiling in your canner.

The thawed strawberries had a delicious juiciness. Just so you know.

In a big saucepan crush your strawberries with your potato masher until they're mostly just juice and pulp.

Can you see the juiciness? There wasn't even any sugar involved yet here. Glorious.

Add in the sugar and stir it in with the strawberries.

Bring to a quick boil, stirring constantly to keep it from sticking to the sides.

I like any recipe that calls for constant stirring. It keeps me from eating out of the pan.

Once the mixture has thickened, spoon into warm clean jars and attach two-piece lids (lids + rings).

Situate your canning rack so that it's hanging from the top of your canner and arrange your jars around the perimeter. Using hot pads on your hands (which I probably don't need to tell YOU, but believe me, I have to tell ME every time I do this) grab the rack handles and lower your rack into the boiling water.

I just recently learned to appreciate the ability of the rack to hang this way. It's purty convenient.

Process for 15 minutes and then remove the jars to a towel to seal.


Listen eagerly for the whimsical POPping of each jar's lid. Like music to my loser ears.


Then store these jars of beauty and wonder where you will appreciate them most. I put them in the back of the cupboard which seems like a weird place to put them in order to appreciate them, but when the holidays roll around and I need to put my gifts together, I appreciate knowing that my cupboard is stocked with many flavors of gift givingness. But let's not talk about the (barf) holidays because BARF.

And if you're wondering why I'd go to all this trouble to make deliciousness and then not eat any myself, allow me to introduce you to The Runt.

See, no matter how closely I follow a canning recipe (and let's face it, I barely follow any recipe that closely), I never end up with exactly the number of jars of whatever that they list on the recipe itself. For instance, this strawberry jam recipe listed 4 pints, or in my case, 8 half pints. Except that I used far less sugar and ended up with 6.5 half pints.

And that always ALWAYS happens. I never end up with a round number of jars.

Which is fine, because then it means we can eat The Runt.

The Runt doesn't get processed, it just goes into the fridge so that we can eat it at our leisure over the next week or five minutes.

In the case of blackberry jam, it doesn't usually even make it to the fridge. Whoops.

So, don't go thinking I do this canning of jam thing just for the good and enjoyment of my friends and family because my selfishness is served by The Runt.

Also, this way, I can know whether the thing I'm giving away tastes like a horse's ass or not.

I'm such a giver.

The Delicious Runt

And, in case any of you were worried about the final tally of POPped lids - we're all set. 6 perfectly sealed jars of strawberry jam and one nearly empty Runt.

*Optional step


  1. You win, Finny. After a couple of disastrous attempts at making jam without pectin (and the required crazy amount of sugar) that resulted in either runny fruit mess or fruit cement, I am now too afraid to make jam without pectin. But I don't like all the sugar pectin requires. Maybe this is the year I'll master my fear of the boiling-down method. Or I'll experiment with the no-sugar pectin. But then, what if I WASTE all that lovely fruit?

    I'll just have to try it with the blackberries or mulberries or something else free so I don't feel so bad about the waste if I fuck it up. Which I will, at least once.

    Canning is not for the faint of heart.

  2. I was gonna say, "No pectin?" I'm contemplating my first canning attempt while my mother is not only not here, but out of the country, because apparently I like torturing myself.

  3. Can I just ask for permission to use "What am I, some kind of asshole?" as my new tagline? Or at least put it on a t-shirt?

    OK, not really. I just like to pretend that I could be that funny.

    And awesome job on the jam. I had no idea you could make it without pectin AND reduce the sugar. I tried to reduce the sugar once and ended up just making grape soup.

  4. I would personally carry out a hit on the person of your choice for homemade strawberry jam. I've never tried to make it because I'm all lame in the kitchen and don't have the tools, like the big steamer pot or the rack. Oh yeah, and I'm lazy as shit and once started a small range fire (as in home on the range not range in a home) while trying to make pancakes while camping so I don't try new things because they're all scary and I might do myself a mischief. OK, I think that's enough excuses.

  5. Very Cool Ms. Finny. That jam looks delicious. I used to can but one year something went horribly wrong and I was afraid I'd kill us all, so, I've been on a canning sabbitical. Maybe I'll get brave and try it again someday!

  6. Oh, strawberry jam -- how very, very delicious it looks. The Runt makes me smile. Thanks for sharing the process and the funny stories.


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Look at you commenting, that's fun.

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Sucks, right?

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