Monday, September 13, 2010

Jam Making 101
Thought I'd share today on my latest hobby, canning. I promise you that if you've never canned before, you'll be hooked once you start. It's cheap, fun and what a great way to give a sweet, homemade gift to someone you care about.

First things first. You need equiptment.

1. Some canning jars with lids and rings. I use Ball which can be found at Walmart for around $7.00 for a pack.

2. A large pot with (preferrably) a stainless steel basket that can be lifted in and out. However, I've heard that just using a regular gallon pot will work as well. As long as your cans are submerged 100% in the water, you're fine.

3. Some canning tongs. I've tried using regular stainless steel tongs before, but wound up losing grip on my jars and they slipped out, splashing boiling water on my arm. Not fun. Splurge on the canning tongs that have rubber on them. I got mine for $9.00 online, but you can find them at Walmart too.

4. rags

5. water

6. a knife

7. a potato masher

8. a regular pot to mash the fruit, lemon juice, sugar and pectin in

9. a ladle


10. 4 cups of fruit

11. measuring cups

12. a lemon

13. 8 cups of raw, organic sugar (I use turbinado)

14. a box of Pectin, each box contains 2 packets of pectin (Found at Walmart and most grocery stores.) Know that there is MSG in Pectin, so it's not the healthiest. I've seen jams made with using natural pectin (the yellowish-green on the bottoms of strawberries), but it takes much longer and your fruit has to sit out awhile and set.

Step #1: Pick your produce

We're going to use organic strawberries today since they're easy and most everyone likes strawberry jam. Cut up your fruit in no specific way. Just so they can be mashed well in your pot.

Step #2: Get your water boiling in your large pot and place clean jars (not lids or rings) into the water to bring to a boil.

Step #3: Squeeze a lemon and place juice aside.

Step #4: Place strawberries and lemon juice in a pot to mash together. Then mash with your potato masher. When it's well and mashed, you're going to add your 8 cups of raw sugar. Yes! 8 cups! (I know. Not the healthiest, but all in moderation right?) Stir and mash until it comes to a complete boil to where even when you're stirring it, it's still bubbling.

Step #5: Using your canning tongs, remove your hot jars from the large pot and set them on a surface that is covered with a rag that you don't mind getting stained.

Step #6: Add the 2 packets of pectin.

Step #7: Let it boil for another minute or so, scraping out the excess foam off the top.

Step #8: Remove from heat.

Step #9: Use a ladle to pour into jars to where there's only 1/8 inch left at the top. Just enough to expand a bit when boiling. If you don't fill it high enough, you won't get a good seal on your lids and your jam will go bad. After wiping your jars, place on lids with rings and seal them tight, but not too tight or you won't be able to open them. :)

Step #10: Using your canning tongs, place full jars back into boiling water and boil 30-40 minutes.

Step #11: After jars have boiled 30-40 minutes, lift your jars out and place them on the counter to cool for 24 hours. You'll know you have a good seal when you press your finger on the center of your lids and they don't pop back at you. Store in a cupboard until you want to use them. I've heard that they can last up to a year! Enjoy!
I've found it to be about half the price of purchasing store-bought jellies/jams and twice as tasty. Especially if you're going to use organic ingridients, it's well worth it. Remember that to save extra money, buy fruits that are in season and are chaper. Organic strawberries can be found for as low as $2.99 a pint, but when out of season, up to $6.00 a pint!
Happy Canning!

1 comment:

Jana said...

My first canning experience was with applesauce. The real stuff is so much more tasty than even the "no sugar added" versions in the store! I love to make freezer jam out of my strawberries. You don't have to cook the berries as long so it comes out a beautiful red color like the fresh strawberries are. I have many happy memories of canning fruit with my grandmother. Haven't tried it in our RV yet but you gave me inspiration to do so!