And it's perfect timing because strawberries are in the peak of their season right now. Late last week I went strawberry picking with a few mommy friends of mine and took back a nice load of beautifully fresh, sweet, ripe strawberries, and I thought it would be a great idea to make jam out of them. Yummy, sweet strawberry jam.
Making jam is really an easy thing to do. And so is canning. I think a lot of people have a little bit of trepidation when it comes to trying something new with food like canning, but it really is easy. I canned for the first time last summer with help from my mother-in-law (you might remember her from this post), and I was surprised how easy it was to do. So I then did it on my own, and we have already devoured the fruit of that labor.
And so I thought I'd share how to do it with you.
To start, you will need a little equipment:
half-pint canning jars with lid and rims
A big pot that can handle upright jars covered by an inch of water
A jar lifter or tongs
A big pot for making the jam
And here is some optional equipment that you can get but you don't necessarily need. (And just fyi, I found most of this in my local grocery store in the canning aisle, which most stores should have this time of year)
Canning rack (basically a big metal thing to lift jars in and out of the water easily
Jar lid magnet (for making it easy to get the lids out of hot water)
Funnel (to make less of a mess...in theory)
Now that you've got the stuff, we got to make it ready for the jam. First, you've got to make sure that all of your stuff is clean. So wash everything with hot soapy water. Do a first inspection to make sure there are no cracks in your jars.
Put the jar lids in a different, smaller pot and bring to a simmer (do not boil). Let it simmer until you are ready for them.
And onto the jam!
from Canning, a Better Homes and Gardens SIP
12 cups strawberries (3 quarts)
1 1.75-ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
7 cups sugar (This is a lot of sugar, but there are recipes for lower sugar ones. Just find one and follow it. Canning is not an area where you want to experiment with recipes. The ratios need to be just right to stay shelf stable.)
Makes about 10 half-pints (I got about 9)
1. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher a little at a time until you have five cups of mashed berries.
Put it in the pot with the pectin and the butter. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add the sugar all at once and bring back to a boil. Boil hard for one minute.
|After skimming, not perfect but better|
2. Take the jars out of the hot sterilizing water bath, and do a quick check to make sure there are no cracks.
Then ladle the jam into the hot jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace.
Wipe jar rims, and put on lid to fingertip tightness (meaning just as tight as your fingertips can make it, which should be easy to do since you're dealing with hot jars and don't really want to handle them too much).
3. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner (your big pot) for five minutes starting when the water returns to a boil. Make sure that there is about an inch of water covering over the top of the cans once you place them all in. Remove the jars and cool on wire racks.
You will hear the jars ping as they cool (mine did it within a matter of minutes after being out of the hot water, but just as long as it happens before they are completely cool). This is the sign that the jars are sealed. You will want to check them by gently pressing on the tops of the jars to make sure that the button does not give. If it does, it's no problem. Stick that jar in the fridge and use it right away. The others can be stored in your pantry for up to a year...if it can last that long!
And just so you know that I am no pro, but I can still do this. Here's one of the little failures that happened while making this jam.
So give it a try! You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it was, and there is a great satisfaction in making your own food from scratch. Plus, I know all of the fathers in my life love a good jar of jam. Don't they say that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach?
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