Once again Spectacularly Delicious took center stage at the astonishingly gorgeous 5th Annual House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year in Rockefeller Center. SpecD oversaw the fierce battle (state against state, blog against blog, USA against Canada) for the title of America’s Ultimate Strawberry Jam Recipe.

During the open-to-the-public judging my most excellent team of culinary ambassadors assisted with a demonstration batch of my Strawberry Lemon Marmalade with the Ball FreshTECH jam maker.

The call for entries elicited a delightfully eclectic response.  Of the recipes submitted two trends bubbled up: ‘berries and booze (Grand Marnier, tequila, cognac, Champagne) and spicy hot (jalapeno, serrano, chipotle).

The Champagne-infused jam had the right balance to advance to the final tasting.  None of the hot pepper jams made it to the taste-off, undoubtedly disappointing daredevils from coast to coast. Nonetheless, jam-crazed crowds poured through Rockefeller Center that fateful morning while the deliciously different jams valiantly vied for the coveted crown.

The winner? Juanita Malone of Laurel, MD shared her eponymous low-sugar recipe. Tasters reported that the flavor of the strawberries shone through, undoubtedly due to the reduced sugar.  The people have spoken — Juanita rules! And in the event she is unable to fulfill her duties any of the other finalists’ recipes can step up to “Ultimate” status.


Note: Adding some sugar to reduced-sugar pectin works fine in this recipe

1.75 ounce box Ball No Sugar Needed Sure-Jell (pink box)
6 pints freshly picked strawberries
4 cups sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter
16 4-ounce quilted crystal jars or 8 8-ounce quilted crystal jars
Regular jar lids
Regular jar rings

1. Place 16 4-ounce size or 8 8-ounce size jars in top rack of dishwasher.  Place corresponding number of regular mouth jar rings in the top rack of the dishwasher.  Set washing cycle to sanitize and start.

2. Avoid fruit with insect marks or over ripe spots. Carefully inspect fruit. Remove any stems, soft spots, insect marks. Rinse well in metal colander.

3. Fill canner two-thirds of the way full with water and set on high heat also set full teapot on high heat. Lay jar lids into 9×13 glass cake pan in a single layer. When teapot boils pour boiling water over the jar lids. Allow the lids to sit in water.

4. Move strawberries to a metal bowl, use a potato masher to crush the berries. Do not puree, finding chunks of strawberry in the jam is the perfect texture.

5. Measure exactly 4 cups of sugar into a separate bowl, set aside. Inaccurate measuring will make the jam fail to set.

6. Move clean jars and rings from the dishwasher to staging area for use after jam has reached second full boil.

7. Place the crushed berries into an eight quart stock pot and place on medium heat. In a small bowl, measure ¼ cup of sugar, from your pre-measured sugar and mix with the 1.75 ounce box of no sugar needed Sure-Jell. Stir this sugar Sure Jell mixture into the strawberries. Mix with a wooden spoon, increase heat to high and allow mixture to reach a full rolling boil. If there is a lot of foam, on top of the berries add 2 teaspoons of butter.  A lot of foam would cover more than half of the surface of the stock pot. Any amount of foam less than half the surface could suffice with 1 teaspoon of butter.  I find I need the maximum 2 teaspoons of butter if I use very ripe berries. When a full rolling boil is reached, add the remaining sugar and stir constantly until the mixture again reaches a full rolling boil. When a full rolling boil (constant bubbles) is reached allow the mixture to continue for 1 minute. If I have a lot of overripe fruit, I allow this boil for 3-44 minutes. Remember you must stir vigorously the whole time. Remove the pot from heat.  Skim off any foam at the top of the pot.

8. Immediately, ladle the jam into the clean jars. Work carefully as you pour the hot jam into the jars. Place new canning lids onto the jars and secure the lids in place with a jar ring. Wipe the outside of the jars to remove any splashes.

9. Place the jars into canning rack, ensure that jars are not touching each other. Lower the canning rack into the boiling water. Be sure the jars are at least 1 ½ inches submerged under water. Secure the canning lid into place.  Allow the jars to boil for ten minutes.  Pull the whole canning rack out of the canner. Using jar tongs, place the jars onto a folded tea towel (soft surface). Listen for the ping sound as the cool air creates a vacuum and pulls the jar lid into place creating the seal.

10. After 24 hours, check the jars. You can usually see a slight indentation in jars that have sealed.  You can also check by pushing down on the jar lid, movement indicates a seal did not form, refrigerate and jars that did not seal immediately.

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Written by on September 16, 2012 under ALL RECIPES, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Relish.

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