Returning to Our Roots // Homemade Jam

Happy Thursday! Last week they started bringing in fresh, locally grown produce to Stringtown Grocery. We were so excited to get our hands on some zucchini! While we were shopping, they had the most gorgeous local strawberries for sale, and I was suddenly inspired to try making some homemade preserves. I used to watch my mom can as a child but had never actually tried it, so I knew it was time to dive into "the Google" and figure out how I could achieve the jam of my dreams!

Along the way I discovered the blog, Food In Jars, written by Marisa McClellan and dedicated to teaching the proper way to can foods of all kinds. There was so much useful information; I learned many things I never knew before! I could tell you all about how to start canning, but she does a much better job of it. You can read her posts on how to begin canning by searching her archives here. There you can learn all about the equipment you will need, the dangers of botulism, and proper ways to store your jars. If you are new to canning, please go take a look at her page!! If you are fairly experienced, let's begin here with the equipment you will need to start making delicious strawberry preserves:

  • Canning pot. You do not need a pot specifically made for canning to get the job done, just something tall enough to hold your rack, jars, and an additional 2 inches worth of space for the water to cover the jars and have room to boil.
  • Cooling rack. 
  • Stovetop pot. For cooking your product.
  • Wide mouth funnel.
  • Jar lifter.
  • Canning ladle. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/3 cups crushed strawberries (wash, hull, and crush one layer at a time using a potato masher or your hands)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons classic Pectin
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 Ball or Kerr Jars (8 oz) with lids and bands

RECIPE:

  • Fill your canning pot with water tall enough to cover one inch above the jars. Bring to a boil. Place the jars and lids in the water on the rack and simmer, do not boil, for at least 10 minutes. Set the bands aside.
  • Place strawberries in your stovetop pot. Gradually stir in the Pectin. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly.
  • Turn down the heat and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove pot from heat and skim foam if necessary. 
  • Remove the jars from the water and ladle the hot jam into the hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rim clean. Center the lids on your jars and apply band until it is only fingertip tight.
  • Process in the boiling water in the canning pot for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove the jars and cool. Listen for the pop of the seal. Check lids for seal after 24 hours by picking them up by the lid without the ring. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Store in a dark and cool place like a cellar or pantry.

Making jam was a lot simpler than I thought it would be! I did have to go out and buy all of the equipment, which ran me about $40 from the Amish stores in town. I'm not sure if it would be any more expensive anywhere else, I'm sure it could be! However, this will come in handy when we begin our first sustainable garden next spring. Can't wait to share that journey with you! A tip I learned while canning:

Do not stack your jars or leave stored with a twisted ring. This can cause you to believe there was a false seal. The biggest danger of self-canning is botulism, or being poisoned by your canned food. I always thought that you could stack jars and/or store them with the ring seal. However, if you leave the ring seal on, you could potentially be leaving your jar sitting to rot. Make sure to check your canned goods' seals by picking them up by the lid. When stored with the ring or stacked, it is possible that the can is releasing gases and going bad. 

Happy jam making!

xx Jill