Today's advenure started at the farmer's market. I bought a flat (8 quarts) of "second" strawberries for $12. Once I got home, I ran them through the food mill to remove the stems, leaves, and the little stalk in the middle. The food mille (mine's a Roma), has to be one of the coolest inventions ever. It would have taken forever to remove all the stems and leaves manually. Even though I ran the "waste" through about 5 or 6 times to make sure I extracted all the juice and pulp I could, it still only took about 30 minutes to process all the berries. I ended up with about 3 cups of actual waste for 6.5 quarts of berries. We saved the other quart and a half to eat.
I poured all the puree and juice into my big stock pot, then measured out what I needed for each batch of jam. My recipe calls for 3.5 - 4 cups of "juice" per package of pectin.
I simmered the juice for 10 minutes, then added 1 package of Ball no-sugar-needed pectin mixed with 1/4 cup of sugar. I brought it to a boil and added another 2.5 cups of sugar. The volume of liquid pretty much doubled by this point, and I probably could have used a bigger pot... After boiling hard for 1 minute, I removed it from heat and checked to make sure it would gel. I had put a spoon in my ice container earlier, so I scooped up a half spoonful and let it cool. It gelled! So I poured it into my little half pint jars. Each batch gave me 5.5 jars.
Then I loaded my 11 jars into my big, huge water canning pot and processed them for 10 minutes.
I'll be canning again tonight, as I still have over half of my puree/juice left.... I always thought canning was difficult, since most people have stopped doing it. I'm finding that it's really pretty enjoyable. The actual cooking part took about a half hour per batch. I'm going to try cooking a double batch next time, which will make it go a bit faster overall. Still, I'll have about 3 - 3.5 hours invested in pureeing, cooking, and processing by the time I'm done. I don't think that's bad for about 27 or 28 jars of jam. Total cost will be around $20 ($1.50 per box of pectin x 5, $12 for strawberries, and $1.25 for an on-sale bag of sugar), making the jam cost around $0.72 per jar. How's that for a bargain? Plus, I know exactly what's in my jam and where it came from.
Hopefully within a year or two, I'll be making jam with my own home-grown strawberries...!