So, you’ve mastered the world’s easiest jelly, figured out where to put your yummy creations, lets take the next step and move into jam, another pretty easy canning concoction.
Jam, is very similar to jelly in that it’s ingredient list is short and simple, and it’s a water bath processed food. Basically the difference is that jelly is made specifically with only fruit juices, jam has squashed up bits of fruit and seeds (unless you chose to filter them out) left in. But they are small bits of fruit, where as preserves are spreads like jam, but have large chunks of fruit that spreads easily onto breads etc. Typically Jam contains berries of some sort, but it can also be made with hot peppers, jalapenos, and other fruits, and has a wide range of flavor combination possibilities.
For this recipe, I wanted to make a mixed berry jam, which is my personal favorite, and I chose to use regular pectin, mostly to show you the difference between it and the no/low sugar variety that I usually use.
Step one: Gather ingredients and supplies, prep jars and lids.
I’m using strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and then you’ll need the pectin (I have no/low sugar in the picture but changed my mind at the last minute to use the regular) and sugar. The recipe guide I used called for 2 1/2 cups crushed strawberries, 1 1/2 cups crushed raspberries and 1 cup crushed blackberries. I used what I had to get the 5 cups of crushed fruit I needed but ended up using more strawberries than the prescribed ratio. The recipe also called for 7 cups! of sugar and 1 box of standard pectin.
Once you have everything gathered and ready, start by washing your fruit, make sure to discard any moldy or badly damaged fruit, and hulling the strawberries (cutting off the green stems). Then in small batches use a potato masher (or similar item) to squash your berries. I have found the easiest way to do this (and the best way to contain the small mess it makes) is on a sheet pan (cookie sheet with sides) that way the berries can squish around in the space but still be confined (extra bonus if you can do it on your nastiest, most abused, burnt and charred one just to make my baking pans feel better and less abused)
I think the squished up raspberries and blackberries look pretty! Anyway, when you get them squished to your desired amount, scoop them into a measuring cup, then add them to your large stockpot where you’ll be cooking the jam. repeat until you have done all your berries and have the required amount of squished berries (in this case, 5 cups).
Then, when all your berries are in your large pot, place the pot on the stove, and stir in the pectin. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil (that can’t be stired down) and quickly stir in your sugar and bring it back to a rapid boil and allow it to boil for 1 minute. Be careful, this mix popped, splashed, and spluttered all over the stove, my canning stuff, and me – and it’s HOT!
When you’ve let the jam and sugar boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and start to pot into the jars. Follow the same process from the jelly, funneling the jam into warm jelly jars leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace. Put on your lids and gently tighten a screw band around. Put the jars back in the canner (making sure jars are covered by at least 1 to 2 inches of water), bring it to a boil, process for 10 minutes, remove from heat, remove lid, let rest 5 minutes, then place the jars on a soft towel in an out of the way spot where they can rest 12 – 24 hours. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this process, because as I was removing the jam from the stove to start canning it (not 10 minutes after my husband lovingly told me to be carefull and not drop my phone (which I use to take these pictures) in the jam) I dropped my iPhone in the boiling hot jam. So – after using my tongs to pull it out of the jam, my husband worked at cleaning it while I did the canning. My phone seems to be fine, other than the speakers are muted so sound is very hard to hear and I can’t, you know, actually talk on the phone. It was however very quick to tell me that apparently jam is not an iPhone optimized accessory…
Once your jam has rested, clean the jars, label, and store them. The recipe told me it would make 8 cups (or 8 half-pint jars) as you can see from the picture, this was not the case, it actually made 10! I almost couldn’t fit them into my canner!
Also, a random little side tip. After my post the other day about storage and labeling, I was looking through one of the canning books I got out of the library, and I noticed in a couple pictures, that the author seems to label their jars using their label maker – it was totally an “ah-hah” type moment! So, that’s what I’ve started to do as well – you’ll notice it in upcoming posts. So, if you’ve got a label maker, looks like you’ve got a system already in place you could use to label and date the contents of your jars!
Oh, and I also want to thank Rachel over at OnePrettyThing for featuring some of this canning 101 series!
More canning posts to come this week – as well as… CHICKENS! That’s right, our baby chicks arrive this week, and our whole family is super excited to meet them!