On Smashing Strawberries

This time of year I have traditionally made lots of jam. I even have a third place ribbon for my grape jelly at the Minnesota State Fair back in 2016 – the only year I got around to entering so far.
In my opinion, strawberry jam is actually best as a ‘freezer jam’ – it looks a beautiful bright red color (much brighter than the maroon you see below in canned jam) and has a sharp clear taste. But it’s more practical to do water bath canning method when freezer space is at a premium -or when you are about to move, like I am.
One thing that has always annoyed me about strawberry jam, going back to my youngest days, are the large chunks of strawberry in the jam that add large chewey-slimy patches to an otherwise wonderful piece of peanut butter and jelly toast.
Thus, an experiment. Due to the fact that I had enough berries (grown here at Katie Lane) to demand two batches  in a large Dutch Oven, I decided one would be more mashed, and one could be less mashed.
And I had, by chance, a half-filled jar that I ladled in the last of one batch, and followed with more from the second batch. It clearly shows the difference:

Perhaps the difference is not much with a quick glance at this photo, but the more crushed jam is clearly superior.

The more crushed jam (done with a potato masher while cooking) is the superior jam. Why? Firstly, it’s far more pleasing, in my opinion, not to have large crude chunks in the jam. The finer crushing job also traps far fewer air bubbles (absence of bubbles is important for prize winning jams). Some people might prefer the more ‘natural’ and ‘raw’ look of the less crushed jam, seeing it more healthy somehow (it’s not), but I believe most will prefer the finer, smoother product.
That aside, making jam is bit time consuming, and also probably a bit expensive if you don’t have homegrown produce in large quantity. However, it is quite easy, and rewarding to do, and well worth a try if you don’t do so already. I stick to the basics: strawberry, grape, mixed berry, but if you want, there are other options like Kiwi Daiquiri, Pineapple-Mango-Chili, and quite a number using rhubarb.
Ongoing jam making.

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