I just got finished making four batches of fresh strawberry jam! I can hear the popping sound of the jars sealing themselves as I type this.
A friend of mine showed me years ago how to make jam and I've made it almost every year since. It's easy, tastes so much better then store bought and it's fun to do.
So, as I was making the jam, I took some photos to show you how easy it is and maybe you too could make jam for you and your friends and family.
You start off with some great fresh, ripe strawberries. For four batches, I had a crate, which is 12 baskets.
I got these at the strawberry stand by my house. You can't get fresher then these. They grow them right there, pick them and carry them up to the stand.
Be sure to wash your berries. You don't want any dirt, bugs or unwanted items.
Then you need to take off the stem and cut them up into smaller bits.
I like quick and easy so I use the food processor. It makes it go so much faster.
Don't over do it though. You don't want to turn your fruit into juice. You still wants to be able to see the bits of strawberries.
It's hard to tell in this photo but you can still see the bits of strawberries. I don't like big pieces of strawberry in my jam. If you do, then make your pieces bigger.
The most important thing to do is prepare everything before you start.
Get your berries washed and measured out (four cups), measure your sugar (7 cups) and your pectin. I use liquid so I used one pouch.
You will also need to get your jars cleaned and sterilized. I have a setting on my dishwasher to do this but if you don't, then you will need to boil your jars.
Put your lids (the flat part, not the ring) into hot water and bring to a boil. You can then lower the heat down to a simmer.
This will sterilize them and soften up the rubber part so they can seal your jam jars when you are ready.
There are several different kinds of pectin. Like I said, I use the liquid one. There is also dry pectin. I learned how to make jam with the liquid kind and it always turns out so I have stuck with that.
If you use another kind you will need to read the directions to see how much you will need to use.
A super important thing to do is to check the date on the pectin. The only time I had a batch not turn out was when I used some pectin that I didn't know had expired. I had just purchased it and didn't think to check the date.
Since then, I've noticed several expired dates on pectin right in the store.
Now you are ready to start cooking your jam.
Add all the strawberries (4 cups) and all the sugar (7 cups) to a large pan. Stir it well and bring to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is when you can keep stirring and the bubbles don't go away.
It may foam up a bit at this point. In order to do away with that I add 1 Tablespoon of butter. Don't ask me why but it helps.
It will still foam up but, it won't stay that way when you remove it from the heat.
Boil it for 1 minute then add your pouch of pectin. Boil for one more minute. Not longer and not less. One minute!
Then remove from the heat. If you have any foam left at this time, skim it off.
Now get your jars. Keep them hot until just ready to use them. You want everything to be hot. Your jam, your jars and your lids.
Be very careful when you fill up your jars. The mixture is going to be very, very hot! You can use a funnel but, I just use a ladle and spoon it in.
Leave at least 1/8 of an inch at the top. I fill it up to the where the mouth of jar starts.
Then take a wet cloth and wipe off the mouth of the jar. You do not want ANY of the jam on the rim or your lid will not seal. Make sure it's nice and clean.
Get one of your seals out of the water. I use tongs to get them as the water is super hot.
Place it on top of your jar and make sure the rubber part is on the lip of the jar.
Then add the ring part and screw it down tight but not so tight you can't open it up later.
Now, many people will tell you at this point you need to put your filled up jars in a water bath and boil it for so long.
When you make jam you don't have to. The jam has a lot of sugar in it and the temperature gets high enough that you will not get any bacteria.
Plus, if you do my little trick, your lids will seal just fine.
What is the trick? Well, it's simple. Just place your jar of jam upside down for about 15 mins. This will make sure your lid is hot enough to seal.
After about 15 mins just flip it right side up and listen for the popping sound the jars make as they are sealed.
**** IMPORTANT UPDATE
Do NOT follow the above directions. This is no longer a safe practice. Please, place jars in a waterbath for 15 mins. after you fill them up.
USDA no longer recommends the above practice as a way to seal jars for safety reasons.
I love that sound. Sometimes it takes a little longer then you think it will but sooner or later you will hear the pop as long as you did everything right.
Let them cool and sit for at least 24 hour and you will have some of the best tasting jam.
Each batch will make about 8 small jars. I get anywhere from 8 to 9 jars.
These can be stored on your shelf for a year. If for any reason your jam did not seal then you can put the jam into the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
You can tell if your jar is sealed because the center of the lid will be sucked down. If after 24 hours you push on the lid and you can push it down then it did not seal.
I hope if you have never made jam before you try it.
It's pretty much the same with all the fruit you use. Just read the directions in your box of pectin for the amounts of fruit, sugar and pectin you will need to use.