Easy (and Yummy!) End of Year Teacher’s Gift

On Monday I realized that next week was the last week of Nicolas’s preschool … AND I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to do for an end of the year gift for all his teachers.  A few months ago when I had thought about it, I thought that strawberry jam might make a nice gift.  I love canning and have incorporated some kind of jam, jelly or chutney into my Christmas gifts for the past couple of years.  But, I wasn’t sure how I could make jam seem like a teacher’s gift.  That is when I found a great blog post with the same strawberry jam idea AND cute labels that can be downloaded  🙂

On the back of the labels, I addressed it to the teacher and wrote “Thanks for making this year ‘JAM’ packed with fun!” and let Nicolas sign them.  Very cheesy, I know, but this is preschool we are talking about.
I usually try to find my canning recipes in the Ball Blue Book because I have heard that the canning process can be tricky if the recipe isn’t right.  So, the following recipe is taken directly from that book.  I don’t have a special canner –  I just use our big lobster pot.  It takes a long time for all that water to come up to a boil (I am not sure if a canner comes to a boil faster or not?)  So, I start the lobster pot boiling before I prepare any of the ingredients for the jam.  I wash the jars and put them in the lobster pot and fill it with water.  I put the pot over the heat to get it boiling and sterilize the jars.  One recommendation I would make for this recipe is to use a LARGE saucepan (at least 8 quarts).  The jam foams a lot once the sugar is added.  I made the mistake of using my 5 quart and I had a jammy mess all over my stove when I was done.
Strawberry Jam (from Ball Blue Book)
Makes 8 half pints
2 qts strawberries
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar
Wash strawberries; drain.  Remove stems.  Crush strawberries one layer at a time.  Combine strawberries, pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Return to a rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

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