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Blueberry-Honey Jam 2

Posted on August 08, 2013 by Sahar

As we are now officially in the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to stay inside and bottle up some of the more pleasant summer memories of summer by making some more jam.

And there are few better memories than (seasonal) blueberries.  While, admittedly, they are not my favorite berry eaten out-of-hand, once blueberries have been cooked, they are a lovely thing.

Wild blueberries are grown as far as ideal conditions will let them; even as far north as human habitation (think northern Canada). Botanists and culinary historians believe that the indigenous peoples of America used wild blueberries for a number of foodstuffs: eating out of hand; drying them in the sun for preservation and use in pemmican (a form of dried meat), cakes, and puddings.  The dried berries were also ground for use in soups.

The blueberry that most of us know today were first commercially cultivated in the early 20th century.  They’re a variety called “highbush”, meaning that they are grown on bushes and small trees as opposed to in boggy soil of the lowbush blueberries.  Highbush berries are also larger than the lowbush varieties. Most  commercial cultivation of highbush blueberries comes from  British Columbia, Maryland, Western Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington.  Lowbush blueberries are a native fruit crop to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine.

Blueberries are in the same genus as cranberries.  The Genus Vaccinium.  Blueberries are also related to lingonberries and huckleberries.  All of these fruits are grown in acidic soil and can have a wide variation in acidity both in pH and in taste.  One thing they all have in common is they are all very high in natural pectin.

(Some information from wikipedia.org and The Oxford Companion to Food, Davidson, 1999).

As I stated above, the indigenous peoples of America have used blueberries for millennia before settlers were introduced to them.  Now, thanks to importation and cultivation, blueberries are grown and eaten all over the world.  They are especially prized in France for use in pastries.

And, of course, for jam.  Yummy, yummy jam.

Now, on to the recipe.

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A few notes:

1.  You can use frozen blueberries in a pinch for this recipe.  I like to use blueberries in season – which, in Texas, would mean May – September – but, I have used frozen in the past and they work fine.

2.  Always buy extra blueberries.  This will make up for any that are bad, not ripe, or what you eat.

3.  If you would like to make this a totally sugar-free recipe, sugar-free honey is available at some grocery and health-food stores.  You can also use maple syrup if you’d rather go that route.  I don’t use artificial sweeteners, Stevia, or Splenda in my jams, so don’t ask about substitutions. Or, you could just omit the sweet component altogether. However, this will affect the set-up of the finished jam.

4.  Don’t forget the lemon juice.  It adds the acidity needed to activate the pectin in the blueberries.

5.  Don’t use too dark a honey (i.e. cotton or buckwheat).  The flavor will overpower the blueberries.  You want them to compliment, not compete.

6.  The set of this jam will also depend on how long you cook it.  The longer you cook, the more solid the set.  However, it won’t set up as stiffly as a jam made with commercial pectin.

7.  For the complete hows and whys of canning, please see my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam” (http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=756).

 

The Ingredients.

The Ingredients.

Beautiful blueberries.

Beautiful blueberries.

 

6 pt. blueberries (12 c./approx. 4 1/2 – 5 lbs)

-or-

8 ea. 10-oz bags frozen blueberries, thawed, juices saved (5 lbs.)

1 c. honey (I like to use wildflower or clover honey)

2 tbsp. lemon juice

 

1.  Wash and pick through the blueberries.  Discard or compost any that are spoiled or underripe.  If you are using frozen berries, place them into a large colander set over a large bowl and allow to thaw.  Be sure to save any juices that accumulate in the bowl.

I ate these.

I ate these.

2.  Combine the berries, honey, and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan. (If using frozen thawed berries, add the juice as well.) Stir to combine.  If you want to crush the berries with a potato masher to release some of the juices from the berries, go ahead.  It’s not necessary, however.  The berries will break down as they cook.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

3.  Cover the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir frequently.

4.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, uncover the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low and boil the mixture for about 1 hour or until the jam looks thick and glossy.  Again, stir frequently.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

Boiling the berries.  If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam.  220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Boiling the berries. If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam. 220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam.  Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it's done.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam. Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it’s done.

The jam ready to be jarred.

The jam ready to be jarred.

5.  Once the jam is ready, ladle it into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Be sure to wipe off the rim of the jar, otherwise the jars may not seal properly. Place the lids on top and finger-tighten the rims. Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. (Begin timing after the water comes to a boil.)

6. Take the jars out of the water and set them on racks to cool.  Once the jars have sealed (you’ll hear a “ping” noise, the lid will be concave, and, if you pick up the jar by its lid, it won’t come off), tighten the rims.  Let the jars sit until they are cool.

Nice.

Beautiful, delicious, blue-purple  blueberry jam.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Four Berries Jam 0

Posted on June 06, 2013 by Sahar

Summer is my favorite time of the year for fruit.  Plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and, my favorite, berries.  All of them.

Berries are one fruit that are now available all year ’round.  However, I tend to eat them only seasonally.  The fruit sold in the winter not only has little taste but is generally shipped from South America; a very heavy carbon footprint.

Of course, one age-old way to hold on to that summer flavor is to make preserves.  So, that’s what I did.

 

Now, on to the recipe

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A couple of notes:

1.  You can use any combination of berries you like in this recipe.  Just make sure you have 9 cups total.  I used the four most commonly seen in the grocery, but if you find/have gooseberries, boysenberries, etc., you can use those as well.

2.  Always buy extra.  This is to take into account bad berries, trimming, and any that you eat along the way.

3.  Check the date on the pectin.  You want to be sure it’s good.  If it’s out of date, buy new.

4.  To get a full explanation of the hows and whys of canning, please read my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam”.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

 

9 cups total fresh berries, trimmed, picked through, and washed  (For this recipe I used 3 c. strawberries, 2 c. blackberries, 2 c. blueberries, 2 c. raspberries)

6 tbsp. powdered pectin

1/4 c. lemon juice

6 c. sugar

 

1.  Wash the jars, lids, and rims in hot soapy water.  Place the jars in a large stockpot of boiling water to sterilize them.  Leave them in the boiling water, topping it off as needed (you need at least 1″ water above the tops of the jars).  Place the lids into a small saucepan.  Bring the water just to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the water simmer.  The rims don’t need to be sterilized.

2.  In a large saucepan, take the berries, 1/4 at a time and crush them with a potato masher.  It’s OK if there are some large pieces.  You don’t need to mash the berries smooth.

Crushing the berries.

Crushing the berries.

3.  Add the lemon juice and the pectin.  Stir until the pectin has dissolved.

Adding the pactin and lemon.

Adding the pectin and lemon.

 

The crshed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together.  And, we're ready to go.

The crushed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together. And, we’re ready to go.

4.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  (You want it to come back to a boil immediately after stirring.)

A rolling boil.

A rolling boil.

5.  Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

Continue stirring frequently until the mixture again comes to a rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute.

Another rolling boil.

Another rolling boil.

6.  Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully skim the foam from the top of the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

7.  Take the jars from the boiling water and drain.  Carefully ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4″ of head space in the jar (use a jar gauge to make sure you’re at the right level).

Ladleing the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel.

Ladling the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel. It certainly reduces mess.

Measuring the headspace in the jar.

Measuring the head space in the jar.

Clean the jar rims with a damp towel.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won't seal properly.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won’t seal properly.

8.  Place the lids and rims (tighten them only finger tight) on the jars and place them back into the hot water.  Bring the water up to the boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.

9.  The jars can take up to 24 hours to seal.  However, it usually doesn’t take that long.  You’ll know the jars are sealed when the lid becomes concave.  You’ll also hear something like a “ping” when the jar begins to seal.  Once the jar is sealed, you can tighten the rim.

Ideally, let the jars sit for about 24 hours before moving them.  But, as long as you let them sit until they are cool, you should be fine.

If the jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.  You can also remove the contents from the jar, wash it and the rim, discard the lid, re-sterilize everything, fill the jar again and process.  It’s up to you.

Be sure to label and date the jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

 

Enjoy!

 

Sweet Cherry Jam (with frozen cherries) 2

Posted on December 17, 2012 by Sahar

Yes. Yes. I know. It’s past cherry season.

By the way, in case you didn’t know when peak season is, it’s summer.

However, if I don’t have any cherry jam left from the summer, or, in this case, I wanted to send some to a few select people for the holidays, I will use frozen cherries. Because, well, they’re available. And, why not?

There are certain frozen fruits that will work just as well as fresh when making jams, preserves, and butters.  Peaches, mangos, cherries, and raspberries are a few that spring to mind.

Of course, fresh, ripe, in-season fruits are always best.

But, I wanted to show in this recipe that frozen fruit is an excellent substitute and you can make wonderful jam any time of year.

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Now, to the recipe.

Note:  If you need a full tutorial on the how’s and why’s of making sweet preserves (jam, jelly, etc.), please read my August 10, 2012, post “Classic Strawberry Jam”.

The ingredients

Clockwise from top: Pectin, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest.

 

 

3 lbs. ripe sweet dark cherries, pitted

-or-

3 lbs. frozen sweet dark cherries, thawed, juices reserved

1 ea. 1.75 oz. package “classic” powdered pectin (6 tbsp.) – do not use gel pectin

1 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 c. lemon juice

5 c. sugar

 

1.  If you’re using fresh cherries, stem, pit and, if you like, roughly chop them.  If you’re using frozen cherries, pour them into a large colander and set it in a large bowl.  Allow the cherries to thaw and let the juices drip into the bowl.  Reserve the juices.

2.  In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, the reserved juice (if any), pectin, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Cherries, cherry juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, and pectin ready to be mixed and cooked.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Cooking the cherries. The mixture will begin to thicken as it heats up.

3.  Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it’s dissolved.

Mixing in the sugar.

4.  Turn the heat down to medium low and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Again, be sure to stir frequently.

Cooking the jam after the sugar is dissolved.

Once it’s come to a rolling boil, boil the jam for 1 minute.

Boiling cherry jam.

5.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  If there is any foam on top, take a spoon and skim off as much as possible. (Be careful. The jam is very hot at this point.)

The finished jam.

6.  Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Ladling the jam into the jars.

Measuring the headspace in the jar.

Clean the jar rims, seal, and process for 5 minutes. (Begin timing after the water has come back to a boil.)

Cleaning the jar rims with a damp towel. If you don’t do this, the jars won’t seal properly.

7.  Once the jars have processed for 5 minutes, turn off the heat under the canner (or very large stockpot), carefully take the jars out of the boiling water, and place them on racks to cool.  The jars will seal as they cool. (You’ll hear a “ping” or a “pop” noise as the jars begin to seal. This could take up to 24 hours.)

If the jars seal, the jam will keep approximately one year (recommended).  If not, refrigerate the jars and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.

Yummy, yummy cherry jam.

 

Makes approximately 8 half-pints/16 4-oz jars

 

Classic Strawberry Jam 1

Posted on August 10, 2012 by Sahar

I enjoy making sweet preserves.  Of course, this catch-all word also includes jams, butters, conserves, and jellies.  Most of the time, I try to use fresh, seasonal, and, if possible, organic fruits.  Because, why not?  That’s when the fruits I choose are at their best.  However, I have used frozen fruit as well (mostly cherries and peaches) and most seem to work just fine.  Especially when I have a craving for peach butter in the middle of winter and don’t already have some on hand from the summer season.

Overall, I just have fun when I make preserves.  It’s a lot of work; but, when done right, the end result is worth it.

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The exact origin of preserved fruit remains debated by food historians. However,  jams, jellies and preserves have a rich history and long have been appreciated and loved by generations of happy eaters.

The making of jam and jelly likely began centuries ago in the Middle East, where cane sugar grew naturally. It’s likely that returning Crusaders first introduced jam and jelly to Europe; by the late Middle Ages, jams, jellies and fruit conserves were popular. Especially among the upper class and royalty. (Another example of something good coming from something bad.)

In fact, the word “jelly” comes from the French word “gelée” which means to congeal.

The world’s first known book of recipes, Of Culinary Matters, written by Roman gastronome Marcus Apicius in the 1st Century, includes recipes for fruit preserves.

Marmalade is believed to have been created in 1561 by the physician to Mary, Queen of Scots, when he mixed orange and crushed sugar to keep her seasickness at bay. It has been suggested that the word marmalade derives from the words “Marie est malade” (Mary is sick), but it is far more likely that its origin is from the Portuguese word marmelo for quince.

Marmalades were a kingly delicacy and many a royal sweet tooth demanded an array of fruit flavors rich with sugar. Chroniclers describe at length the magnificent & table groaning feasts of Louis XIV, which always ended with marmalades and jellies served in silver dishes. Each delicacy served at Versailles was made with fruit from the king’s own gardens and greenhouses.

In the United States, early New England settlers preserved fruits with honey, molasses or maple sugar. Pectin extracted from apple parings was used to thicken jellies.

In 1897, Jerome M. Smucker first pressed cider at a mill in Orrville, Ohio. Later, he prepared apple butter too, which he offered in crocks that each bore a hand-signed seal — his personal guarantee of quality.  And, thus, a well-known brand name was born.

A grape jam patent was first issued to Paul Welch in 1917 for the puréeing of grapes. He called the product “Grapelade.” The entire production was purchased by the U.S. Army and shipped to France for consumption by the troops during World War I. When the troops returned to the States after the war, they demanded more of this “Grapelade,” and it was produced in quantity. And many generation of happy children have enjoyed Welch’s Grape Jelly.

The Food and Drug Administration established Standards of Identity for what constitutes jam, jelly, preserves and fruit butters in 1940.

(information from www.jelly.org/lore.html)

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What is the difference between different types of preserves you ask? Good Question.

Jelly is a clear product generally made by cooking fruit juice with sugar and pectin as a jelling agent and citrus juice (lemon or lime) as an acid to help give it an even firm, even texture.  As a rule, jelly contains no fruit pieces.

Jam is made from crushed or chopped fruit cooked with sugar and, sometimes, pectin, and citrus juice (lemon or lime).

Preserves are fruit cooked with sugar to the point where large pieces of fruit are basically suspended in a sugar base.

Marmalade is a soft, usually citrus-based, jelly that includes both the flesh and peel of the fruit in the base. The peel helps give the marmalade its sour/bitter flavor.

Conserve has more than one fruit and also usually includes nuts or raisins or currants.  It is cooked down until very thick and can be used as a spread or like a chutney.

Chutney originated on the Indian Subcontinent. It is generally not served as a spread, like a conserve, its closest Western cousin, but as a condiment. It can range from mild to hot on the spice scale.  It usually consists of chopped fruit, vinegar, spices, and sugar.

Fruit Butter is a fruit puree combines with citrus juice, sugar, and spices.  It is slowly cooked down to a smooth, thick consistency.  It contains no actual butter, however.

Curd is a dairy based spread made with butter, eggs, sugar, and is usually flavored with either citrus, especially lemon, or berries.

Fruit Spread is a relative new comer to the preserve family.  It’s is generally a lower calorie spread made with fruit juice concentrate and/or low-calorie sweeteners as all or partial replacement for sugar.

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One of the most important ingredients in making fruit preserves, is pectin.  Pectin is a complex, non-nutritive polysaccharide extracted from apples or citrus fruit. It helps form a gel when combined with the correct amount of acid and sugar.

Essentially, pectin helps forms with water in an acid enviornment.  The added sugar helps the pectin’s ability to gel and effects the texture and consistency of preserves as they set.

Some fruit, such as apples and plums, have enough natural pectin to generally not need any extra pectin added.  Other fruits, such as strawberries and pears, always need added pectin.

You can also make your own pectin from apples.  There are numerous recipes available in books or on the internet.

Classic Pectin. Both powdered and liquid. This is most commonly used type of pectin.

Liquid and powdered pectins are not interchangeable.  Liquid pectin is always added after boiling and not reheated back to a boil but immediately ladled into the sterilized jars. Powdered pectin must be added then boiled for a period of time to activate the gel process.

Instant pectin. It’s used for uncooked freezer or refrigerator jams and jellies.

 

Low/No sugar pectins. These use calcium powder to start the gelling process. You can use up to 40% less sugar, low calorie sweetener, or honey in place of regular granulated sugar.

Pectin can fail to gel your preserves if it is too old, or under/over-cooked.  Also, if an ingredient, like sugar, is added at the wrong time, it can interfere with the pectin and the jam won’t set up.

On the left, improperly made strawberry jam. I put in the sugar too soon and cooked the jam too long. The pectin failed and the jam never set. One the right, a masterpiece.

There are a few tools that are very helpful when you’re canning.  A wide-mouth funnel, a magnet (for picking up lids out of hot water), a bubble remover/headspace tool, and jar tongs.

The starter kit with all the utensils. It’s fairly inexpensive.

Magnet, funnel, headspace tool, and jar tongs.

If you don’t have these items, you can do some substituting.  Just be sure that whatever you use is non-metallic or a non-reactive metal (i.e. stainless steel) so it doesn’t react with the acid in the preserves. (As a matter of fact, I find a pair of standard tongs with rubber bands wrapped around the ends work better for picking up the 4-oz jars instead of the jar tongs.)

 

Jars. Gotta have them.  There are 4 standard sizes of jars available to the home canner: 4-oz, 8-oz (1/2 pint), 16-oz (pint), and 32-oz (quart).  The pint and quart sizes are more often used for pickle, vegetable, and whole fruit preserves.  4-oz and 1/2 pint jars are used mostly for jams, jellies, etc.

4-oz and 1/2 pint jars. These are the most common sizes used for jam & jelly making.

When you buy jars, they generally come in a box of 12.  They will contain jars, rims, and lids.

The components of the canning jar. Jar, lid, rim.

When you open the box, inspect the jars carefully.  Make sure there are no cracks in the jars.  If you find any, throw the jar away.  Keep the lid and rim, though, if they’re not damaged.

Jars and rims are reusable if you want to make preserves again.  The lids are not.  The seals on the lids are one-time-use only.  If you want to just use the jar for storage, then you can re-use the lid.  But it can’t be used again for sealing the jar after processing.

There are also 2 sizes of “mouth” on a canning jar: regular and wide.  I generally use regular mouth jars for sweet preserves.

Boxes of regular and wide mouth jar lids. When buying extra lids, be sure you buy the correct size for the type of jar you’re using.

Size comparison.

 

It’s always good to have an extra box or two of lids on hand.  As I stated above, lids can’t be reused unless you’re going to be using them merely for storage.  Otherwise, the lid must be discarded.

Before starting the canning process, the jars, lids, and rims must be washed in hot, soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, and drained.  This can be done in the dishwasher if you like, but I find it easier to just wash by hand.  Plus, it’s faster.

Clean jars, lids, and rims.

 

Have a large canning pot, or as I happen to have, a large stock pot, with a jar rack in the bottom.

My well-used jar rack.

 

Fill the pot with water  (filtered, if you can) and then place the jars in the rack.  Ideally, the jars don’t touch.

Jars ready for sterilizing.

 

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil and boil the jars.  Make sure the water is at least 1″ above the tops of the jars.

Most books I’ve seen recommend boiling the jars for anywhere between 1 – 5 minutes.  Me? Once the water is boiling, I just let it boil and leave the jars in.  I’ll add water as I need to.

Place the lids in a small saucepan and cover them with water.  Again, I generally go at least 1″ above the lids.  I bring the water to just the boiling point, turn the heat down, and let the lids sit in barely simmering water.  This sterilizes the lids without melting the seals.  (If the seal melts before it’s placed on the jar, it’s no good.)

Lids in simmering water.

You don’t need to sterilize the rims.  If everything is done properly, they’ll never touch the food.  But, if it makes you feel better, you can sterilize them if you like.

 

And, finally, a few notes on jam making (and preserves in general):

The USDA doesn’t recommend modifying canning recipes (and NEVER make multiple batches at once; i.e. doubling), since improvising could affect the acidity of your canned goods and create an environment for bacteria to thrive.  But as any cook knows, half of the fun of making a recipe more than once is the tweaking!  There are a few changes that you can make to the recipes, safely, however.

SUGAR:  Feel free to add more or less.  It’s only added for flavor and to help stabilize the shape, set, and color or whatever it is you’re canning.  It’s not added as a preservative.  Keep in mind, though, that insufficient amounts of sugar in jams and fruit spreads will result in runny, dribbly spread, which can sometimes – but not always – be remedied by increasing the cooking time or by adding more pectin.

LEMON or LIME JUICE:  Unless otherwise noted in a recipe, always stick to bottled citrus juices, since fresh can vary in acidity.

HERBS and SPICES: Feel free to play with the amounts of herbs and spices called for in a recipe – it won’t adversely affect the recipe’s pH.

HONEY:  Honey can be substituted for sugar, though keep in mind that it’s not a cup-for-cup conversion, since honey is more dense than granulated sugar.

A few changes to never make:

NEVER decrease the amount of acid, whether vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice

NEVER substitute vinegar for bottled lemon or lime juice in a recipe, since vinegar is slightly less acidic than the citruses.

(Source: Tart and Sweet, Rodale Books, 2010)

 

Now, on to the recipe.

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The ingredients

 

4 lbs. strawberries (Always buy extra to take into account bad berries, trimmed out bruises, and from removing the tops)

1/4 c. lemon juice (use bottled; see above)

1 pkg. (6 tbsp.) powdered pectin

6 1/4 c. sugar

 

 

1.  Wash, trim, and cut the strawberries in half or quarters, depending on the size.

4 pounds of cleaned, trimmed, and cut strawberries.

 

Place 1/4 of the strawberries in a large saucepan.  With a potato masher, crush the strawberries.  Continue with the rest of the strawberries, 1/4 at a time. (The strawberries don’t need to be smooth.  A rough crush will do.)

Crushing the strawberries

2.  Add the lemon juice and pectin to the strawberries.

Adding the pectin and lemon juice

Place the saucepan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring the berries to a boil.

Boiling strawberries.

 

3.  Add the sugar and stir constantly until it is dissolved.

Adding the sugar.

4.  Stir frequently until the strawberries come to a boil again.  When the come to a hard boil, stir constantly and boil for 1 minute.

Just after all the sugar is dissolved.

Boiling strawberry jam.

 

5.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Skim off as much of the foam as possible.

Skimming off the foam. Take care not to get any of the hot jam on your skin. It hurts.

 

6.  Now, it’s time to use your tools.  Take the small saucepan with the lids off the stove and set it close to where you’ll be filling the jars.  Take the canning pot from the heat and carefully, using the jar tongs, remove the jars from the boiling water.  (If you’re using regular tongs with rubber bands, make sure you pick the jars up on the outside. Do not have anything touching the inside of the jar.)  Take care when you pour out the water so that you don’t burn yourself. I like to have a rimmed baking pan lined with a towel to put the jars on as I take them out of the pot.  It makes them easier to carry to where I’m filling the jars and to take them back to the pot for processing.  Leave the jars right side up.

Take a jar and place the funnel on top.  With a ladle (stainless steel is fine. It won’t react with the acid), carefully fill the jar, leaving 1/4″ headspace at the top.

Using the headspace tool to measure 1/4″. Very important that the headspace is correct.

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A word on headspace:

During processing (either in a water bath, as this recipe calls for, or a pressure cooker for low acid foods and meats), the heat causes the contents of the jar to expand. Air escapes around the two piece lid.  If there isn’t enough headspace, the food could seep under the lid as it expands. This will interfere with sealing.

After processing, the contents of the jars contract as they cool and the lid is pulled down tight and the jars seals themselves. If you have too much headspace, the processing time specified in the recipe may not be long enough to drive out the air. This can also interfere with proper sealing.

Any canning recipe should specify the headspace, but, generally, use 1 inch for low acid foods (such as vegetables), 1/2 inch for whole fruits, and 1/4 inch for jams, jellies, and most other sweet preserves.

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Use the other end of the headspace tool, if needed, to remove any air bubbles.

Now, to help make sure the lid will seal properly, take a damp paper towel, and wipe off the rim of the jar.  Any food on the rim will interfere with the seal.

Cleaning the rim of the jar.

Take the magnet and pick one of the jar lids out of the hot water, shake off the excess water, and carefully place it on top of the jar.

Taking a lid from the water.

Now, take a rim and screw it to finger-tight on the jar.  Don’t make the rim too tight, or air may not escape during processing.  You can tighten the rim once the jar has sealed.

Jar ready for processing.

Continue with the rest of the jars.

Once all the jars are filled, put them back into the canning pot.  Be sure the water level is at least 1″ above the tops of the jars.

Jars all ready for processing.

Cover the pot and bring the water back to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, boil the jars for 10 minutes.  You are now processing the jam.

Once the jam has been processed, take the canning pot off the heat and carefully remove the jars.  Place the jars on racks and let cool.

Strawberry Jam. Fresh from the canner.

The jars can take up to 24 hours to seal.  However, it usually doesn’t take that long.  You’ll know the jars are sealed when the lid becomes concave.  You’ll also hear something like a “ping” when the jar begins to seal.

Once the jar is sealed, you can tighten the rim.

Ideally, let the jars sit for about 24 hours before moving them.  But, as long as you let them sit until they are cool, you should be fine.

If the jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.  You can also remove the contents from the jar, wash it and the rim, discard the lid, re-sterilize everything, fill the jar again and process.  It’s up to you.

Be sure to label and date the jars.

Jar labels

You can keep sealed, unopened jam for up to 1 year (recommended).  Once it’s opened, you should eat it within about 3 weeks.

If you find any mold, throw the contents away.  Immediately.  Just a little safety tip.

However, if all was done properly, you should have no issues.

 

Enjoy!

 

 



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