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  • Exquisite Strawberry Jam

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  • 4 heaping cups washed and hulled strawberries (1 pound, 6 ounces; to ensure a high pectin content, about 1/4 of the berries should be slightly under-ripe)
    3 1/2 cups sugar
    1/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon butter (to control the amount of foaming during cooking)
    Coarsely chop the berries by placing small batches of them into the workbowl of a food processor and hitting the "pulse" button several times
    You should have 3 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped berries.
    In a large bowl, combine the berries with the sugar and lemon juice. Gently stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until the sugar is evenly distributed and the juices have begun to flow; let the mixture stand, stirring gently every 20 minutes or so, for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 2 hours.
    Wash 4 half-pint jars. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.
    Scrape the mixture into a 12-inch skillet or saute pan. Add the 1 teaspoon of butter (this controls the production of foam). Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a straight-ended wooden or nylon spatula. Adjust the heat downward to keep it from boiling over, and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
    Remove the skillet from the burner and let the jam settle for about 20 seconds; if any foam remains, skim it off. Ladle hot preserves into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rim with a clean, damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars.
    At this point, the jam may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for up to six months or longer without the quality suffering.
    For long-term storage at room temperature, you will need to process the jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (at 1,000 to 3,000 feet, process for 15 minutes; at 3,000 to 6,000 feet, for 20 minutes; above 6,000 feet, for 25 minutes). Using a jar lifter, remove the processed jars from the boiling water and let cool on the counter, undisturbed, overnight.
    Store it in your pantry, the refrigerator or freezer.
    Makes 4 half-pints.
    Note about the consistency of the jam: This is going to be a very "loose" jam — the kind that moves around in the jar slightly as it's tilted. So if you don't like such a soft gel, you might as well steer clear of this recipe. There's also a stronger likelihood of fruit wanting to float toward the top of the jar, which creates a clear layer of jam at the bottom of the jar. Here's how I've managed to repair that phenomenon when it appears to be happening: About 3 hours after the jars have been removed from the boiling water canner, if you notice that clear space at the bottom of the jars hasn't started to fill in with fruit, then you can begin a cycle of turning the jars on their heads for periods of 60 minutes at a time. Gently flip the jars for 60 minutes, then gently flip them back onto their bottoms for 60 minutes; repeat several times during the day or night. This really does seem to work.
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