Homemade Jars of Strawberry Jam

Simple Homemade Strawberry Jam

GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE

My fondest memory of my Grandmother Tessie was how much she loved her family, and I also loved her homemade strawberry jam. While we visited my Grandmother each year, we were welcomed with a home-cooked breakfast. Each morning, we could wake up to count on: bacon, sausage, grits, homemade biscuits, butter, and homemade strawberry jelly. I have always loved food and am particularly fond of a big breakfast and the star of Grandmother Tessie’s breakfast was her strawberry jam.

STRAWBERRY JAM AND BUTTER

My Grandpa Ford showed me how to mix butter and strawberry jelly together in just the right amounts to make a delicious topping for anything. We would take a fork and mash together the two ingredients and although it didn’t look very pretty, it had a heavenly taste. I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled back in my head with delight each time we concocted it. When I was in middle school, I learned Grandmother’s delicious jelly actually was made with figs. Since I didn’t know anything about a fig, I was a little shocked and turned off by my new knowledge. My ignorance quickly faded and I maintained my reverence of her strawberry jam.

Superfoods Home Page Strawberry Plant Garden Hands
Home Page Strawberry Plant Garden Hands
Strawberry Jam Helping Hands
Strawberry Jam and Helping Hands

Grandmother Tessie lived to be 97. She lived a long, loving and loved life, filled with a large family, and homegrown and homemade foods.

CHILDREN IN THE KITCHEN

I knew just the thing to do when I discovered an abundance of strawberries in my refrigerator. I rounded up my boys and we made homemade strawberry jam. My boys are always so excited to help us out in the kitchen. Their faces lit up and they are so delighted to get their hands on the food and assist. I call my boys my great little helpers often – and they truly are. They wash berries in the sink, cut off the stems, place berries in a bowl, squeeze lemon to make fresh juice, and dump in sugar, and vanilla extract from my pre-measured spoons and cups. They also stir it all together before I place it on the cooktop to simmer.

When your children assist you in the kitchen, it may take longer for the task to be completed, and your kitchen may get dirty. Yet, I believe the benefits of including your children in cooking preparation far outweighs the negatives. We can help you discover tips on how to get your children more involved in the kitchen.

  • STRAWBERRY JAM: The recipe is super simple and super delicious! I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did.
SIMPLE, HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY JAM

Ingredients:

2 pounds strawberries, sliced and stems removed
Juice of one lemon
Zest of half a lemon
2 cups sugar (raw cane sugar or coconut sugar - I'm going to try honey next!)
2.5 teaspoons fig balsamic vinegar (or plain balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and stir frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally. 

Jam should be ready in about 60-90 minutes. It should be thick and jam-like.

I stored my jam in a mason jar in the refrigerator. It should keep for a month. However, I don't think it will last that long!

This recipe is adapted from a Completely Delicious recipe. I use fig balsamic vinegar because it reminds me so much of my Grandmother’s homemade version. I also add lemon zest for brightness since a little extra lemon is almost always a welcome addition! If you try this jam recipe, please comment! I would love to hear how it turns out for you! 

Finally, Boys in the kitchen strawberry jam

 

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Helping hands in kitchen. Fresh vegetables.

Try a Farmer’s Market and CSA

Top 5 Reasons to Try a Farmer's Market
Top 5 Reasons to Try a Farmer’s Market

FARMER’S MARKET:

Have you tried purchasing your food at a Farmer’s Market? I highly recommend it! There are so many benefits to purchasing foods at your local Farmer’s Market. Here are some of the positive aspects below to purchasing food from a Farmer’s Market:

  1. MEET THE FARMER

    Ask questions about their best farm practices such as, “Do you use pesticides on your vegetables?” or “What do you feed your cows?” or “Do your chickens have access to grass?” Get to know more about your food life cycle so you can make informed decisions and purchase the best foods you possibly can.

  2. FRESH, HIGH-QUALITY FOOD

    At the farmer’s market, chances are the food was freshly picked the day before or the morning of. This allows you to absorb the most nutrients you can from the vegetables or fruits. Farmers at Farmer’s Markets often produce foods that are certified organic or nearly organic. Talk to them about this if its a concern to you.

  3. TASTINGS/SAMPLES 

    At a local Farmer’s Market we attend, most vendors provide samples so you can try their tasty wares before purchasing. We have had the pleasure of tasting local, raw honey, savory Indian sauces, granola, gluten-free, homemade pizza, and raw, unpasteurized, organic whole milk on a weekly basis. My children’s favorite bits of attending farmer’s markets are definitely trying the samples!

  4. SUPPORT A LOCAL FARMER

    It is always nice when you can support a local farmer or business. They are trying to make a living just as many people are. I think its nice to support someone local to your area.

  5. INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN 

    When my children come with me to the Farmer’s Market, they see me tasting fresh foods, talking to vendors to learn about the foods, and ultimately purchasing fresh foods that we take home to cook. Children are learning by the daily example we set as parents, and the modeling we are doing. Help them make the world a better place by letting them discover a Farmer’s Market. We often bring along our own bags, because my children love helping. This basket would be a great one to have on hand.

Helping hands in the kitchen. Peeling vegetables.
Helping hands in the kitchen. Peeling vegetables.

CSA (COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE):

Have you ever tried purchasing a CSA? CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Essentially, a customer like me, purchases a weekly or bi-monthly box of organic, local vegetables from a farm and the payment goes toward the farm’s needs. It allows them to continue growing the food for the community and stay in business.

My family and I began our first CSA with Johnson’s Backyard Garden about a year and a half ago. During the first winter time we received the CSA box twice a month. There were always a variety of dark, leafy greens included in each box. For the first time in my life, I regularly consumed spinach, kale, collard greens and similar dark, leafy greens.  

HEALTH BENEFITS

One of the best health benefits I experienced was immediately, my headaches that I had suffered from consistently for as long as I could remember, subsided. After doing some research, I attribute this to the consumption of the leafy greens, as they are an amazing superfood.

Another amazing thing about using a CSA box is that it gives me the opportunity to consume foods that I would never have purchased just going into the grocery store. They are a great price, too. I pay for a year up front now because its the most economical option, and best of all it winds up a better price than Whole Foods. I receive a fresh, just picked box of organic produce as part of our weekly CSA and I believe the produce is far superior when it is farm-fresh!

counting carrots with letter c unit
counting carrots with letter c unit

NEGATIVES:

  • You can’t choose your specific vegetables. This can be daunting wondering what in the world you are going to do with a turnip, for example. Quickly though, I discovered this was a blessing in disguise. My family and I are exposed to a great variety of foods and nutrients that would never have come into our life had we not done a CSA. We used our fresh mint this week to make homemade strawberry mint sorbet!

POSITIVES:

  • You consume a variety of nutrient-rich, organic, local produce.
  • You can choose your pick-up location, day and time. I pick up my CSA box at the local Farmer’s Market. Alternatively, you could choose to pick up at your local grocery store and do all of your grocery shopping for the week in one swoop!
  • Johnson’s Backyard Garden (JBG) offers information on storing each vegetable so it will last the optimal amount of time. I have learned so much here!
  • JBG also has a blog where you can see beautiful photos of their farm and progress. They provide recipe ideas too to use the produce from your CSA box!
  • Finally, you can also volunteer your time in exchange for a free box of vegetables!

Finally, have you attended a Farmer’s Market or have you ever been part of a CSA?

b is for berry
b is for berry
fresh mint
finally, fresh mint

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Favorite Vanilla Bean Cupcake Recipe

Favorite Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

First, I share our struggles to get pregnant. Next, I share how we opened up a cupcake shop. Finally, I share my favorite Vanilla Cake Recipe!

INFERTILITY

My husband and I tried for more than three years to get pregnant. I was more disheartened with each passing year when I did not become pregnant. I wondered why I had this huge desire to be a Mama, yet not be able to obtain it. My doctor recommended blood work and a radiology exam to check for infertility. All of my levels appeared normal, so we waited.

I took Clomid, an ovulatory stimulant, for five months with no positive results. My doctor said he had taken us as far as he would go, so he wanted to refer us to a fertility specialist. My husband and I had a discussion and we finally decided to let this goal go for awhile and focus on other things.  I was heartbroken, and mourning the loss of my dream, so I cried for several days.

BEGINNING A CUPCAKE SHOP

For more than a year, I created and tested cupcakes recipes in the kitchen. We valued high-quality ingredients since that is how we eat at home. Organic, whole milk, Madagascar vanilla, cage-free, organic eggs, and organic fruits were staples in our sweets, therefore I wanted to bring that to my business. We would use as many organic ingredients as possible in baking and also provide an abundance of gluten-free options. Flavor played a key role and each cupcake was taste tested happily by family and friends. I worked towards making the best tasting cupcakes I could, using the best ingredients I could in order to present the best quality.

PREGNANT

Finally, we acquired keys for the shop. About two days later, we found out we were pregnant! I was shocked and filled with wonder for so many different blessings during that time in our lives. God’s love is amazing. My husband and I prepared for our special miracle at the same time preparing to open a cupcake shop.

Boys in the kitchen strawberry jam

OPENING DAY

I clearly remember the first day of opening. We didn’t advertise or market. The health inspector had approved us for opening the day before. We decided to bake about 120 cupcakes to see what would happen. On opening day, so many customers, friends and family poured into our doors so by the afternoon, we were SOLD OUT of cupcakes.

Business that first weekend was even better and in one Saturday, we had sold more than 300 cupcakes. This was a huge deal because we were in a small town! I put in long hours daily at the shop, was pregnant, therefore, I could barely keep up with production that first year.

Colored Egg Play. Boys helping in the kitchen.
Colored Egg Play. Boys helping in the kitchen.

VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE

While I didn’t bake this particular recipe while we had my shop, if I did it all again, this recipe below would be my go-to for vanilla cupcakes. They are the most delicious we have made. These cupcakes contain high-quality ingredients which may lead to a superior flavor.

ALMOND CUPCAKES (or Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Cupcakes)

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (grass-fed)
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup brown rice or sorghum flour 
1/3 cup cane sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat your oven to 325'F. Line a cupcake/muffin tin with approximately 12 regular size liners. I prefer the unbleached kind.

Whisk your eggs. Use a knife to cut the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add them to the bowl with your eggs. Add the honey, yogurt, butter and mix together. In a separate bowl, sift the almond flour, your choice of other flours, sugar, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix together. Use an icecream scoop to pour the batter into your cupcake liners. Bake until a cake tester or knife inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. The baking time varies depending on your oven, but a good rule of thumb is about 20 minutes. Set aside the cupcakes to cool on a baking rack.

FROSTING INGREDIENTS
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cane sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract (Madagascar vanilla)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
pinch of sea salt

Whip the cream with a mixer until it thickens. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until fluffy. At the end, add the mascarpone and a pinch of salt. 

Top the completely cooled cupcakes with the frosting and add berries for a beautiful and delicious touch. Eat and try to share.
Birthday Boy Favorite Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
Birthday Boy Favorite Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

NOTE: This recipe is adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. You can find her amazing blog here. Purchase her book below among my favorite and well-used cookbooks!