Several years ago while making jam I was struck with the amount of sugar needed to make a batch. For jam using four or five cups of fruit one needs to add six to seven cups of sugar, and that started me questioning the whole process. I want to taste the fruit not the sugar. There is no doubt that a sweetener can bring out the flavor in fruit, much like salt does on other foods, but only when added in correct amount. Otherwise all you taste is fruit flavored sugar. That’s where Pomona’s Pectin comes in.
Pomona’s pectin allows you to use very little, or even no sugar at all. It sets using calcium powder rather than sugar. Scientifically this is a high-ester (Sure-Jell) vs. low-ester (Pomona’s) issue. It is also far more scientific than I am willing to figure out at this point in my life. All I know is Pomona’s uses less sugar, therefore it’s better for me, and I taste the fruit not the sugar.
So this all started today when I went down to check for ripe strawberries and was rewarded with a half basket full, a little more than 8 pints. We started the plants in the spring of 2013 and had a tiny harvest that year knowing 2014 would bring on the goodness. It did…and will continue to judging by the number of unripe berries on the plants.
With that many strawberries the only option was jam, and using Pomona’s Pectin is a fast method. At least is seems so compared to the Sure-Jell method. In a little over two and one-half hours I had filled eight 8 ounce jars and had everything cleaned up. Keep in mind that included digging all my canning gear out, washing it, sterilizing it, and all clean up at the end. Not a bad haul if you ask me. I actually made two batches, one with honey as the sweetener and one with maple syrup as the sweetener. The maple syrup batch has a nice mellow hint of maple flavor. If I’m going to taste the sweetener it may as well be interesting. Agreed?
The berry plants were purchased from Miller’s Nurseries, now owned by Stark Brothers. The variety we decided to start with is the Honeoye variety, which is pronounced HUN-e-oy. Presumably this variety was developed in Honeoye Falls south of Rochester, NY near where Miller/Stark is located. Honeoye is a June bearing plant so once it’s done producing for the year we’re done as well.
We planted 50 roots (for the absurdly low price of $15.00) and all of them took. As the 2013 summer progressed we soon found the plants were sending off runners like crazy. It wasn’t long before I was pulling rooted runners and tossing them in the compost pile. We simply don’t have the space for them and with the way they are producing we would have an over abundance of berries, as odd as that sounds. And yes…it pained me to toss those little buggers.
Click this link to see the process of making this recipe. Then go out and get some Pomona’s Pectin and strawberries to make your own batch!
Pomona’s Pectin can be found on Amazon or in many health food stores.
- 4 cups mashed strawberries, about 6 cups chopped
- 2 teaspoons calcium water
- 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder
- ½ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Wash, hull, and mash strawberries. Measure mashed strawberries into sauce pan.
- Add calcium water and mix well.
- Thoroughly mix pectin powder and sugar in a small cup.
- Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sugar and honey or other sweetener of your choice. Stir for 1 minute while mixture returns to a full boil. Remove from the heat.
- Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Source: Pomona's Pectin