Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Homemade Strawberry Jam - cost comparison

Greetings and happy July!  Can't believe we are here already...but life is good, so I'll just do my best to cherish everyday.

As the local berry season comes to a close, I went out for one last flat of strawberries...the jam that I have been making has been a huge hit around here, so I thought I'd try to get a few more batches done while the gettin' is good.

However, all of this jam making got me wondering…Is it really more cost effective to make my own jam or am I just providing my family with wholesome goodness?

Many of my former colleagues are probably getting a good chuckle out of this post because I spent the greater part of my career analyzing the cost to produce and trying to make everything and anything more cost effective.

So, it really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I am constantly trying to find a more efficient way to do anything, including feed my family.

Strawberries (pick your own) $2.00/lb*2 lbs = $4
Sugar $1.49/9 cups = $.50 for 3 cups
Box of Less Sugar Sure Jell- $2.29

$6.79 = ingredients makes 7- 8 oz jars (56 oz) = $0.12125/oz

12 oz jar of smuckers jam = $2.19

12 oz of All Things Libby's Jam = $1.46

**Freezer safe jam jars = $0.66 each**

**I view the jars as a start-up cost, since they are re-usable.  
For my second batch, I was already using some of the jars over again, so then their cost goes down to $0.33 each and will continue to decrease every time they are used.  

So, after this brief analysis, I'm confident in saying that not only is my home made jam better for my family, but it is a more cost effective way to feed my family!  

As far as the jam making process, I followed the instructions on the sure-jell website, with, of course, just a few of my own revisions.

Most importantly, they specifically advise against pureeing the fruit.  

After fighting with the masher for a while, I decided to go with the blender and my kids (who are the main consumer of the jam) are thrilled with the consistency and ease of spread.

So, I'd definitely recommend the blender. 

Next, 1 package of Less Sugar Sure Jell pectin and 3 cups of sugar are mixed in a sauce pan, which is very important to do before the water is added.  

The nature of pectin and it's water absorbing properties, don't lend itself to being dissolved in water, unless dispersed in something like sugar, which dissolves easily.  

Add 1 cup of water to the sauce pan and bring to a boil for a full minute, while stirring constantly.  

The boiling process activates the pectin so that it will continue to absorb water as it cools, key to the fabulous texture of the jam.  

Finally, the sugar/pectin slurry is poured in with 4 cups of pureed strawberries and stirred for another minute to ensure the pectin is evenly dispersed.  

Pour the strawberry jam into jars, cover with lids and allow to cool on the counter for the first 24 hours.  

According to the instructions, this jam lasts 3 weeks in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.  

By the way, there is no way this jam would last 3 weeks in my fridge….I can barely keep a jar around for a few days.