Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How To Make Strawberry Jam (Preserves) Water-Bath Canning

I made two double batches of strawberry jam (or technically preserves since it is super chunky) this week with the kids.  Kaela helped with the first batch and Daeton helped with the second batch.

I know a lot of people think it is too hard to do, or confusing, so I took some photos and thought I'd do a little intro to show how easy it is. 

First, you need lots of strawberries (you can use other fruits as well, we will be doing this with peaches in a few months when our tree is ripe).
Next you need a huge pot.  The measurements of all the ingredients will be less than 1/4 of the pot but once it is at the end and at a roiling boil the mixture will be to the top of this pot.
You also need a metal spoon (not shown) for stirring.

Third, if you want your jam to have a shelf-life, you need to heat the CLEAN jars and keep them in very hot water while you are making the jam.  The lids and rings need to be in here as well.

This is a before picture, on the counter top, of my jars, rings and lids.  I wanted to make sure to pair them up since I had some regular and some wide-mouth rings (better to figure it out now and not when the jam is ready to be poured).

FYI... jars can be reused, rings too. However, if you are doing it this way you need to buy new lids each time *More below about this.

So, we washed the strawberries, cut them up and mushed them a bit and put them in the pot and turned it to a medium flame.

Add the pectin and lemon juice.  **Complete recipe with measurements below.

Kaela cutting up strawberries. The green stems need to be removed.  If you are getting strawberries from a roadside stand ask for some 'older' ones.  They are a little mushy and will be sweeter (but you do not want moldy).

Me stirring the pot.  This needs to be done frequently when everything is heating up.  Once you get it to a boil you can slowly add the sugar, stirring every few cups as you add more.

Once all the sugar is mixed in, bring to a rolling boil for one solid minute, stirring constantly, and then remove from heat.

Ladle most of the white foamy stuff that is the top layer out from the pot and discard (I filled two cereal bowls of it).
Now your jam is done.  Have some damp washcloths and a potholder for the jars (they will be hot from the water and SUPER hot once the jam is inside- you do not want to drop a jar of hot jelly).

Jars are ready, in hot water, in the sink.

(pic of foam).  If you don't get it all out it is okay but it will look weird in the jar once the jelly has settled. If you don't remove it at all it will have a weird, frothy taste, so try to get as much as you can.

Ladle the jam into the jars (a second person for team work is great at this step).  Wipe the rim of the jar (to wipe away jelly that dripped there.
Put the lid on.
Put the ring on and tighten sometimes you can recheck once the jars aren't too hot and re-tighten one more time.

Not everyone does this but I learned to put the jars upside down after they are wiped off and to leave them for at least a day to set.

(pics aren't upside down yet). 

That is it.  Do NOT forget to label the jam if you are storing or giving to others.  In a cool pantry this jam should keep for a year.

It needs to be refrigerated once it has been opened and the seal is broken (it will make a 'pop' sound, like a grocery store jar).

Second double batch I made I kept a tiny bit that was left, kept in the pot and added bananas and more sugar and made strawberry-banana jam.  It is kinda gross looking (the bananas give it a brown-ish color) but it tastes great.

* If you are using (clean) old lids you can make freezer jam. It tastes the same but needs to be either frozen or refrigerated and eaten.  You can not store it in a pantry.

** Complete recipe below.  This is the same recipe I have been using for about 15+ years and is from a Better Homes and Garden's New Cook Book from the 1960's or 1970's.

Strawberry Jam.
8 cups strawberries, caps removed.
(1) 1 3/4 ounce package of powdered fruit pectin (I've tried gel pectin once and it worked the same).
2 Tablespoons lemon juice.
7 cups of sugar (do not skimp on this, trying to be healthy, it won't set right and won't be sweet. Substitutes, like Splenda can be used for diabetics, I've never tried it).

When all done recipe book says to put the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes to 'set' the jar lids.  I have never done this, it isn't the way my mom taught me how.  For me, the heat of the jar in hot water and the heat of the jelly always sealed the jar just fine and I've had the jam last at least a year.

Final note, for those allergic to ingredients in pectin, I learned a way to make pectin recently with fruit seeds, pith and cheesecloth. I have not tried it yet but will post if manage to figure it out.

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