Have you ever wanted to can foods, but are afraid of the daunting task? I thought it was a difficult task before I started canning 5 years ago. Canning is actually easier than most people think. It is, however, time-consuming. I suggest getting your feet wet by making jam. Canning high acid foods don’t require pressure canning and minimal supplies are needed to get started. It is important that you follow all safety guidelines when canning foods. The Ball Blue book of canning is a great resource.
It is a little early for Strawberry season. We usually have strawberries from my in-laws garden in May. My son had a fundraiser at school and I bought a flat strawberries that had recently made their way on a truck from Florida.
We have been enjoying the beautiful ripe berries. But, you can only eat so many before they start to go bad, so I decided to make some strawberry jam.
I have tried many different jam recipes. I have made strawberry jam with pectin, strawberry jam without pectin, and strawberry jam with honey. The jam that I recommend starting with is the jam with pectin. It doesn’t require as much cooking time and you will be more successful with the jam setting up.
The ingredients are simple. You will need 8 cups of whole strawberries, 7 cups of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of prepared lemon juice. The recipe I use comes from page 8 of the Ball Complete Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I highly recommend this book for safe canning recipes.
1. A water bath canning pot with a rack. This pot actually belonged to my grandmother. But, you can buy them inexpensively on Amazon or at your local big box store. You will want to keep the lid on the pot to keep your water from evaporating while heating.
The first step is to get the water boiling. You’d be surprised how long it takes for this large pot of water to boil. You will want enough water in the pot to cover your jars with one inch of water.
Next, you will want to wash your canning jars with soap and water. This recipe calls for eight 8oz jars. You can wash them ahead of time in the dishwasher. I reuse my jars each year, so mine just need to be rinsed.
You can go ahead and add the jars to the water pot to start the sterilization process. You do not want to boil the jars, but don’t worry. My water is usually not boiling until time to add the jam. You will want to be sure the water covers the jars at least one inch.
Add your lids to a pot of water that you will want to heat, but not boil. I reuse my jars and rings each year, but you cannot reuse your lids. Do not heat the bands. Just the lids.
A new package of jars will come with lids, but I purchase the replacement lids.
You will want to wash and cap your strawberries. I use a spoon to cap the tops off of the strawberries. I love my over the sink collider for rinsing the strawberries. You will need 8 cups of whole strawberries.
Once the strawberries are capped you can begin mashing them. I just mash them until I get enough juice to use my immersion blender.
My immersion blender is one of my favorite kitchen tools. You can puree’ right in the pot. We like our strawberry jam smooth, so I use the immersion blender to blend it. I leave the mixture only slightly chunky. This is a personal preference. You will want 5 cups of the mashed strawberries.
Transfer this mixture to the stove and add 4 T of lemon juice. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the mixture at this point to avoid having to skim off foam later in the boiling process.
Add 6 T (or one box) of the pectin.
Whisk the pectin into the mixture.
You will want to bring this mixture to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly. and then pour in 7 cups of sugar all at once. You will want to have the sugar ready ahead of time, so you can pour it in at the proper time.
Next, pour in 7 cups of sugar all at once. You will want to have the sugar ready ahead of time, so you can pour it in at the proper time.
Keep stirring the mixture to dissolve all of the sugar.
Now comes the trickiest part. The ball book directions suggest bringing the mixture to a rolling boil that can not be stirred and allow it to boil like this for one minute. However, my jam doesn’t reach the gel stage at that point. If yours doesn’t either, you will want to keep boiling the mixture. You must stir constantly.
When the jam has boiled long enough you will see it start to form sheets on a cold spoon when inserted into the pot. At this time, your jam is ready to can!
Remove your jars from the water where they have been sterilizing and use a jar filler to reduce spillage to fill the jars with 1/4 inch headspace. Headspace is the area between the top of the jam and the top of the jar. My jar funnel has handy little marks so that you can clearly see the headspace measurement. This step is important. If you don’t have enough headspace the jam could boil over during processing. If you have too much headspace you will create too much air inside the jar which could increase the potential for spoilage.
Once all of the jars have been filled, you will want to clean the rims of the jars. You don’t want any jam on the rim that might interfere with the jar sealing. A tight seal of the lid is important.
Add your lids and rings. DO NOT tighten the rings too much. You want to use your fingertips to tighten them. They should be only “fingertip” tight. Tighten only until resistance is met. This allows some of the air to escape during the boiling process.
Using your jar lifter, you will now return the jars to the water and put the lid back on the pot. Once the pot has reached a full boil, you will process the jars for 10 minutes with the lid on. This step is very important. Yes, the jars might seal without this step, but this step is important for killing any bacteria that may have entered your jars from the air during the ladling process. After the 10 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and wait 5 minutes before removing the jars.
Place your freshly canned jars on the counter and do not touch them. You will hear them start to pop. When the little bubble in the top of the jar is indented slightly you know that the jar is sealed. After 24 hours make sure the jars are still sealed. If one fails to seal, you can refrigerate the jam and use it.
Always check the jars before using them to make sure the seal is still secure.
Yum! This jam so sooo good!