It’s that time of the year again when the fruits start to ripen and it’s time for picking and preserving.
I have often wondered if making your own jam and preserves is worthwhile after paying for the fruit, labour, and picking the fruit at a pick-your-own farm.
So I decided to do a little experiment to see if picking my own strawberries and making my own gourmet strawberry jam was cheaper when compared to my local grocery stores and using coupons.
This task may seem a little overwhelming and perhaps some people may even debate whether it’s worth the time and cost involved in making jams and preserves. I am going to give you a break down of cost and taste!
Luckily I was given 250 Home Preserving favorites by Yvonne Tremblay Cookbook to review.
This cookbook on making preserves is ideal for a beginner or a seasoned pro. There is something for everyone in this easy to follow cookbook with recipes scrumptious jams, jellies, conserve, marmalade, fruit butters and chutneys as well up to date preserving information.
Steve and I picked strawberries at a farm in Saanich that allow you to pick your own strawberries at a cost of $3.25 / pound.
This brings us to the costs of our homemade jam.
Cost breakdown & ingredients for a batch of Strawberry Mango Daiquiri Jam (yields 8 jars)
|Strawberries||$6 for 1L of strawberries from the you-pick farm or 2 cups crushed|
|Jars||$1.30/ jar (includes lids) – 8 * 250 ml|
|Pectin||$2.49/ 1 pack|
|Sugar||$0.75 for 5-1/2 cups|
|Lime Juice||$0.49 for 1 1/2 cup of Lime juice|
|2 Mangos||$0.49 each (2 or 1 cup of finely chopped or mashed ripe mangos)|
|Rum||I had some in the cupboard (1/2 cup – could also be omitted)|
8 jars of Fresh Strawberry Mango Daiquiri Jam made with real chunks of fruit = $21.11 or $2.65/ jar.
This cost could go lower if you already had jars.
Benefits of making homemade jam
1. Knowing exactly what is in your food.
I always enjoy making food from scratch and we try to not purchase prepared food or canned food. No more reading the labels of canned goods at the store. Commercially canned foods contain a number of preservatives and extra colour that we just don’t need.
2. Has Smuckers ever made Strawberry Mango Daiquiri jam?
At the grocery store, most flavours are just boring, Blueberry, Raspberry, and Peach. It was fun making an exotic jam.
3. Great personal gifts for friends.
Any home-made preserves make great gifts for friends and neighbors. Most people are thrilled to receive decorative jars of jam!
4. Saves at least $1 from other gourmet jams at the grocery store.
Based on the calculation from the table above, it saves money. In saying that if you were to combine a sale and coupon you can find jars of Smuckers for less than $2. One trick is to purchase the lids separately and try to find free bottles on your local craigslist.
You also need to source the fruit economically. I saw a farm that had pick your own strawberries for slightly cheaper price per pound. Also, you need to make sure that you pick for the right season.
Killer Gourmet Strawberry Jam Recipe
There are so many great jam recipes to choose from with combinations of various fruits to try. I decided to go with what was in season – strawberries and mangos!
1. In a large, deep, heavy bottomed pot, combine strawberries, mangos, lime juice and rum. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
2. Add sugar in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar.
3. Immediately stir in pectin, return to a full boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from heat and skim off any foam, Stir for 5 to 8 minutes to prevent floating fruit.
5. Ladle into sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch (0.5cm) of rim, wipe rims. Apply prepared lids and rings, tighten rings just until fingertip-tight.
6. Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minute. Transfer jars to a towel lined surface and let rest at room temperature until set. Check seals, refrigerate any unsealed jars for up to 3 weeks.
This recipe book of jams, chutneys, jellies and marmalades is a must have for anyone that is either a beginner or seasoned pro. It outlines tips and terminology on the process, which fruits to use at what time of the year glossary of terms and my most useful tool was how adding certain ingredients provided different tastes. Try out some of the savory jellies like- mojito jelly, cabernet wine jelly, apple jalapeno pepper jelly or my favoite mint jelly!