1. When Making Strawberry Jam, Crush the Berries Before You Cook Them: Doing this will shorten the cook time, helping to preserve that fresh, fruity flavor. Break them down, but not completely—you want some juicy chunks in your jam, after all.
2. Granny Smith Apples Are the Key to Your Strawberry Jam: They add some more fruity sweetness, and their natural pectin will help the jam set up without taking on an overly-gelled texture.
3. When Using Lemon Juice in Canning, Go with the Bottled Stuff: Fresh squeezed lemon juice is great for certain recipes, but it’s not your best bet when making preserves. Why not? Well, it’s got to do with safety. The acidity in fresh lemon juice can vary dramatically, while the acidity of bottled lemon juice is always the same. The level of acidity will impact the final product’s pH—and for strawberry jam, you want that pH level to be from 2.0 to 4.6. (For more instructions on making jam, check out our step-by-step guide.)
4. When Making Bread and Butter Pickles, Kirby Cucumbers Are Best: We prefer them for a number of reasons. They’re small, so they fit easily into canning jars. Larger cucumbers have more seeds, and those seeds can separate from the flesh of the cucumber, which eventually might lead to the disintegration of the cucumber as it’s being pickled. And hey—fresh is best! The fresher the cucumber, the firmer its pectin. And firmer pectin equals crisper pickles.
5. Sanitize Your Jars if You’re Processing for Fewer than Ten Minutes: However, if your canning recipe calls for processing times greater than 10 minutes, the USDA says there’s no need to sanitize the jars—any bad bacteria will be killed off while the jars are being processed.
Quote of the Week: “The only thing that would make these better is a giant, giant sandwich of pulled pork.” —Bridget after eating a forkful of bread and butter pickles
Can't wait for next week's episode? Get your fill with our past episode recaps:
- Season 17, Episode 18 Recap: How to Make the Best Pork Roast
- Season 17, Episode 17 Recap: How to Make Sensational Beef Stir-Fry
- Season 17, Episode 16 Recap: How to Make Better Oatmeal Cookies
- Season 17, Episode 15 Recap: How to Make Better Chicken Marsala
- Season 17, Episode 14 Recap: How to Make Baked Alaska
- Season 17, Episode 13 Recap: How to Make the Best Frozen Yogurt
- Season 17, Episode 12 Recap: How to Make the Best Pantry Pasta Dishes
- Season 17, Episode 11 Recap: Taking on the Best of the Big Easy
- Season 17, Episode 10 Recap: How to Make the Best Korean Rice Bowls (Dolsot Bibimbap)
- Season 17, Episode 9 Recap: How to Roast Turkey and Boil Corn
- Season 17, Episode 8 Recap: How to Make the Best Ground Beef Chili
- Season 17, Episode 7 Recap: How to Make the Ultimate Sticky Buns
- Season 17, Episode 6 Recap: How to Make the Best Shrimp Scampi
- Season 17, Episode 5 Recap: How to Make the Best Cheese and Tomato Lasagna
- Season 17, Episode 4 Recap: Home-Corned Beef and Cabbage—and Shots of Sherry (Vinegar)
- Season 17, Episode 3 Recap: Crispy Chicken Breasts and Creamy Baked Potatoes
- Season 17, Episode 2 Recap: "Two Stews for Yous"
- Season 17, Episode 1 Recap: Cast Iron is Back!
What was your favorite part of this episode of America’s Test Kitchen? Let us know in the comments!