It’s time to start canning! I am excited, because I love it. I know it can be really intimidating at first, but once you start you will realize that it’s pretty darn easy. It does take a lot of time, but it’s so satisfying to hear those “pops” as the lids seal and to look at all of those jars full of food for your family. I started off the season making some strawberry jam. I went berry picking in Hyrum, Utah at a farm that doesn’t spray their plants with herbicides or pesticides. It was a really hot day, but I picked and picked and picked until my baby complained and I couldn’t do it any longer! I got a lot of berries and was excited to start jamming! I did hit a calf with my car on the way home and that de-railed me a bit . . . but I knew I had to get those berries put up or they wouldn’t last long. Fresh fruit doesn’t keep very long. I washed all the berries and took the tops off, then sorted through to find those that were too mushy. I wanted to freeze some for smoothies so I took those out and simply placed them in a gallon freezer bag and put them in my freezer. The rest were left for jam and eating!
To make strawberry jam (cooked method) I used the new Ball All Fruit Liquid Pectin. I chose it because it was the only one that didn’t list Dextrose as the first ingredient! It was the best I could find.
3 3/4 c crushed strawberries (about 4 lbs of berries)
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
7 c organic cane sugar
1 packet liquid pectin
Step three: Prepare your hot water bath canner and lids. Put the lids into a small sauce pan and keep them covered with water and hot until you are ready to use them. The water shouldn’t be boiling, just hot. This softens the rubber seal. Fill your water bath canner with water and turn on high. It always takes a long time for mine to get boiling so I start it early!
Step four: Cook the berry mixture over high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring frequently.
Step five: Add liquid pectic packet all at once to mixture and stir. Return to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam, if desired.
Step six: Ladle jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space (the space between the jam and top of the jar).
Step seven: Take a clean, wet dish cloth and wipe around the rims of each jar, removing any jam that may have spilled. Using a magnet wand grab the lids one at a time from the hot water and place them onto the jars. I got my magnet want with a canning kit including a jar lifter, some tongs, and a funnel – if you want to do some canning, I highly suggest getting yourself a kit.
Step eight: Screw on bands until they are just finger tight. Don’t go crazy, just screw them on. Place jars into your canning basket and lower into the hot water.
Step nine: Place the lid on canner, making sure the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Bring the water to a gentle, steady boil.
Step ten: Process the jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. You can easily find an altitude chart for canning through google. I had to process mine for 20 minutes, given that I live at 5,600 ft elevation! Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the jars rest for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner with your jar lifter and place them onto a dish rag on the counter. Let them sit overnight or 24 hours before moving them. After 24 hours check the lids to ensure they have sealed. If you press on the top and you can push down in the middle, the jars haven’t sealed. You can either re-process (boring) or just place those jars right into your fridge to use right way or to give to someone who will use it right away.
Step eleven: Sit back and marvel at a job well done. Then find yourself a slice of bread and slather it with jam.
It was so thrilling to get all of my jam made this year. As I said, it’s not hard, it just takes some time and planning. I don’t want to brag, but this batch of jam was exceptional. Truly. If you get great tasting berries, the jam is spectacular, and I did.
There you have it, a brief intro to canning! Jam is probably the easiest thing you could make to start. Yes, there is PLENTY of sugar, but it IS jam, after all. I found a recipe that used honey for the sweetener, but I don’t love the taste of honey when used to sweeten jam. So I went for it, and I’m glad I did. Hopefully you aren’t eating it by the bowl-full, but I have tempted people already to try it . . . it’s THAT good. I hope you can find yourself some good berries and get jammin!