My favorite part of June, other than my son’s birthday, is strawberry picking! Unfortunately this year wasn’t a bumper crop in our area due to the extremely wet weather and with me being hugely pregnant, going to a u-pick farm was out of the question this year. But I did find the best deal on strawberries around – Aldi’s had them for 99 cents per pound, which we were able to ad match at Walmart to get some fantastic berries. Kroger also had them for $2.76 for 2 pounds, which worked out to $1.38 per pound – only 18 cents over what the u-pick farm nearest me was charging! So we spent a Saturday making sugar free strawberry jam…
How to Can Sugar Free Strawberry Jam
One of my favorite people to can for is my husband’s grandmother. She always seems to be a fan of my cooking, even when not many others in the family enjoy the food. I love to cook, so having a fan always comes in handy! She’s also diabetic, so that brings a whole new challenge to the table to keep her food healthy and sugar-free. My favorite sweetener to use is Truvia because it is made from the Stevia plant and is a natural sweetener. There are other Stevia sweeteners out there, but Truvia is the one I have on my baking shelf, so it’s the one I used in this recipe.
- 6 cups of strawberries, mashed (2-2.5 lbs whole strawberries)
- 1 package of powdered low-sugar or no sugar added pectin
- 12 packages of Truvia (if you have the spoonable Truvia that's 3-5 TBSP)
- 2 pint jars (or 4 half-pint jars) - sanitized in boiling water at least 10 minutes, use when hot
- 2 bands (or 4)
- 2 lids (or 4)
- Boiling water canner
- Hot pads
- Clean, damp paper towel to wipe jars
- Jar lifter
- Potato masher
- The first thing you need to do is wash and prep your strawberries. It's easiest to mash them one layer at a time. If you cut them in quarters or smaller pieces it doesn't take as much time to mash them. Cut the berries as small as you are able and then mash them with a potato masher (my son and my husband had a fun time mashing). Small bits are good in jam, but make sure the pieces are mashed down so that they don't resemble strawberry chunks anymore. Once you have your berries mashed, measure out the appropriate amount - 6 cups - of mashed berries.
- Wash your jars, lids, bands, ladle, funnel and jar lifter in hot soapy water.
- Inspect your jars for any faults - if there are any chips or cracks in the glass, use a different jar.
- Following this wash and rinse, put the jars in a large pot (I use either my boiling water canner or my pressure canner WITH NO LID to sterilize my jars) and add water until they are fully submersed. I usually add water until it is about 2 inches over the top of the jars. With the pot over high heat, allow the water to come to a boil. The water must be boiling with the bubbles breaking over the top of the jars for at least 10 minutes before you use the jars. This sterilizes them.
- Put the lids in a small saucepan with water to cover and heat them on the stove over medium or low heat. Do not allow the lids to boil. If the water gets too hot, turn the heat down.
- If you use your boiling water canner to sterilize, you can use the same water to can the jars. If not, you should fill up your boiling water canner and put it over high heat to get the water warming up. Water should be pre-heated to 180 degrees F.
- Check the directions on your package of pectin, but this is how mine advised cooking - pour the strawberries into a large pot (use a large pot on this, it does bubble up a lot when it's cooking and you want to make sure it has plenty of room. I started with a large saucepan and later decided my stock pot was a better idea).
- Add the powdered pectin.
- Cook the strawberry/pectin mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. A rolling boil means that the boil doesn't go away even when you are stirring it.
- Once it reaches a rolling boil, stir for exactly one minute. I use a timer to be sure.
- Once the strawberry/pectin mixture has boiled for one complete minute, you can take it off the heat and add the Truvia.
- Stir well.
- Quickly remove foam with a slotted spoon or net. Now we're ready to can!
- To can the jam:
- Using the jar lifter, carefully lift one jar out of the sterilizing pot. Carefully pour the hot water out of the jar and back into the pot.
- Set the jar on a towel or hotpad. Using the ladle and funnel, pour the jam into the jar. Leave a headspace (the distance between the top of the jar to the top of the jam) of 1/4 inch.
- Using the clean, damp paper towel, wipe the top of the jar to make sure there is no jam on it. Then add the lid, using a band to keep it on. Make sure the lid is centered on the jar so that the band will screw on easily.
- With the jar lifter, put the jar in the boiling water canner or on the canner rack.
- Repeat until finished.
- Once the jars are all finished and in the boiling water canner or on the canner rack, lower the rack (if using) into the water. Ensure that the water is 1-2 inches over the lids of the jars. If it's not, add more water. Make sure the heat under the canner is on high. Put the lid on the boiling water canner. If you are using a pressure canner, DO NOT lock the lid. Once the water starts to boil (bubbles breaking over the tops of the jars), the processing time starts.
- Process for 10 minutes.
- When the processing is finished, turn off the canner and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then use the jar lifter to take the jars out of the canner and place on the countertop on a towel. Keep the jars out of cold or drafty areas to ensure a good seal. After 12-24 hours, check to see if the lids are sealed. Any that are not sealed should go in the fridge and be used first. The sealed jars should go in a cool, dry place out of direct light.
There you have it – homemade Sugar-free Strawberry Jam with Truvia! Wash the outside of your jars, remove your bands and add labels. Now you can store or give away as treats.
For more information on home canning with a boiling water canner, check out this page from the USDA: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/
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