The last few months at the bakery and cafe have been very productive. At the begining of the year I made a few goals for the business and things that i would like to see happen this year. One of those was making and selling our own jam's, chutney's, pickles and dressings. Last year we started bottling the poppy seed salad dressing that we use in the cafe. And it sold well, but the problem was our consistency in keeping it stocked. So, this year once we have started producing for retail we have been keeping to shelves full!
Once I had got the bottles for the dressing I invested in 100 jars for strawberry jam. The jam wasn't cheap to make since fresh Irish berries are more expensive than the frozen or imported berries, but I thought I would give it a shot and see if it would sell...If it didn't then I would have Christmas sorted!
And....much to my surprise.... The jam has been selling like hotcakes... :)
So jamming has been going on in the bakery for the past few month, desperately making as much as possible before the berries run out, and we get sick of it!
When I lived in Seattle, after my first daughter was born, I had a group of girlfriend that loved to can. I had grown up with my grandmother canning and helped her when she needed a hand. I never had much interest in what she was doing until the dead of winter and she would pull out a quart of gorgeous peaches that we had bought from the peach farmers in the summer, and had thoughtfully preserved for the dreary cold winter.
So, every summer when the first of the strawberries would surface, my canning girls and I would make a trip up to Remmlinger Farms to invest in flats of berries to make jam with. They helped me fine tune my canning skills. Some of the things you should remember when you are making jam is:
Have everything organized before you start. Have your jars cleaned and sterilized, you sugar ready and your berries/fruit cleaned and ready to go.
When you fill your jars be sure to clean the rim of the jar with a clean tea towel before you put the lids on to insure a good seal, any sugar or jam on the rim can lead to a poor seal, which will lead to moldy jam, and all of your hard work will be down the drain.
I was told that once you fill your jars, do not move them until the next day. As they cool the seal will form, and any movement can lead to the jars not sealing until they have cooled down.
This is a basic recipe that I used for our jams:
12 cups mashed fresh berries
8 cups jamming sugar
you can put a tablespoon of butter to reduce foam, or just scrape off foam as it appears when boiling.
Put the fruit and 1/2 of the sugar in large pot, make sure the pot is large enough, so that you dont get burned when the fruit starts to boil.
Bring the fruit and sugar to a rolling boil, stirring all of the time. When the fruit come to a continuous boil while you are stirring, boil for one minute.
After the minute, add the rest of the sugar. Bring to boil, when the fruit come to continuous boil while stirring, boil for 3 min.
You can do a 'set test', by taking a blob of jam on a dish and put in the fridge to cool, when you rub your finger through the jam and it wrinkles or looks like it has set, your jam is done.
Fill your jars to within 1/4 inch from the top
Put jars to cool on wooden counter top or on a tea towel. Let cool fully before moving
Cleaned and sterilized jars, waiting for jam
Jam coming to rolling boil