Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam
I’m not very kitchen-savvy. At all. And I don’t particularly enjoy being in the kitchen either. But the reason I keep trying is because I want to serve my family the healthiest food possible. It’s a slow and gradual process and I am the first to admit to how frustrating it may be at times. But the reality is that healthy food is homemade food.
In my recent article, I spoke to you about ‘upgrading’ your child’s lunchbox. Taking basic everyday staples and dramatically upping their health factor by simply making them at home instead of purchasing them ready-made. I advised you to choose one or two ingredients that your child loves and can’t do without and start from there. Well, for my son, that would be strawberry jam. He has a strawberry jam sandwich every day for school so it seemed the logical place to start.
I would not have known how to create a recipe on my own. I followed their instructions exactly except I halved the ingredients in case I completely made a mess of things I did not want to waste all those strawberries.
Beyond that, I wanted to see exactly how long the process would take; how easy or difficult it would be, and if it would be realistic as a sustainable effort; and obviously if it would pass my son’s taste test.
The reason I chose this recipe in particular is because it doesn’t contain any white sugar or any artificial sweeteners. More importantly, the ingredients-all four of them-are readily available. (I know strawberries are seasonal, but I figured if I managed to do a good job, I could actually can a good quantity for the whole year.)
Here’s how it went.
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup raw honey
1 Granny Smith apple, the green ones
I washed the strawberries, lemon and apple. Next I hulled and halved the strawberries, grated the apple and peeled and squeezed the lemon. Time: 20 minutes. But I grated the apple by hand. You can save time by using a food processor.
I put the strawberries, grated apple, honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice all together in a pot and turned it on high heat so that the mixture could boil. That took 15 minutes.
Once the mixture began boiling, I turned the heat down to a simmer and waited another 20 minutes. In that time, I removed any excess foam that formed on the surface of the strawberries.
I then mashed the strawberry mix with a big fork since I didn’t have an immersion blender and I really didn’t feel like using my blender, so I wouldn’t have one more thing to clean. There were some chunks left but that’s ok, we like chunks in our jam.
The final instructions were to leave the mixture on a low simmer anywhere from 10-45 minutes to allow it to thicken. Since my mixture looked quite watery, I decided to leave it for 45 minutes. I turned down the heat even more.
Once the 45 minutes were up, I filled an old jam jar with my homemade jam and waited for it to cool down. I did this so that my son wouldn’t know I changed his favorite jam. This is a simple trick to get kids to eat homemade foods. Kids want what they know and what they are familiar with and don’t do well with change. By using the jar he knows, he wouldn’t have a chance to object.
Total time: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
That might seem like a long time at first. But in reality, the effort required of me was only about 35-45 minutes. Much of the time was spent waiting for the next step. And while I waited I checked emails, chatted with a client, replied to a comment on facebook and washed up the utensils I had used to prep the jam. This was not a time-consuming, labor-intensive chore in any way. And I imagine many of the kitchen chores we are avoiding for the simple reason that we mistakenly believe they will take too much time, are probably on the same scale of manageability. Especially since they are not things we will do daily. I will probably need to make this quantity of jam once every two weeks.
I urge you to try ONE shift this week. Take one food that your child loves that you can make at home instead of buying ready made. The time and effort you put into it will be well worth the incredible health benefits you will be gifting your children.
And my son’s taste test verdict: went off without a hitch 😉
Read also: Easy ways to upgrade your child’s lunchbox
Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.