So as part of my interest in urban homesteading, I like making my own jams and applesauce.
Yes I know I’m hardly being a champion of self-reliance by making jam, but I’m doing what I can!!
The first time I made jam I went into it 100% obsessed with doing it all “right”. I bought two books, a stater canning set, jars etc. I actually read one of the books, Putting Food By, cover to cover. Yes, it was a little over the top.
But companies in the home presevering industry totally try to freak you out by making it seem like if you make one wrong move while canning you’re going to kill your entire family with Botulinum toxin. Ya, stressful right?
So now you know why I was a little… cautious.
Obviously, I learned to do something right, because my husband and I have successfully ate our way through strawberry and blueberry jam as well as applesauce without any trips to the ER.
So for those of you interested in trying your hand at canning I put together this illustrated step by step guide to make the process less mysterious and scary!*
Start with some fresh picked berries
I use the recipe on the Sure-Jell box, it calls for 8 cups of berries. To make washing easier, fill up your (clean) sink with water and add in the berries. Run your hand lightly over the berries to swirl them around.
Now you need to hull all the berries at once. Grab a berry outta the water and using one hand, gently grasp the berry at the bottom. Using a paring knife in the other hand, insert the tip just under the green stem and twirl the berry to cut the stem out.
Lay out baking sheets covered in paper towel (probably need 3), lay the hulled berries on here so excess water will drip off.
Once you’ve cleaned all the berries, you need to clean out the sink and then wash your canning lids, jars and bands in warm soapy water. Drain the sink again, and re-fill it with hot water. The jars need to stay warm until you ladle the cooked jam into it.
Put the lids into a small pot of hot water on the stove on low heat. These also need to stay very warm until the jam is ladled into the jars.
Fill you canning pot with water and turn the heat to high, it’s so large it takes a while to boil. Also set a full teakettle over medium heat too, as the water from the canning pot boils out, you’ll need to replace it with almost boiling water from the kettle.
Clean your work surface and set out ALL THE UTENSILS you need. Cooking jam goes fast, and you need to have everything at your fingertips.
Measure your sugar, mash your berries and your halfway there 🙂
Cook berries, sugar and pectin together at a full rolling boil (one that doesn’t disappear when you stir it). Watch the berries, but also start setting up your jars.
Once the jam has cooked according to the recipe you’re using (about 10 minutes) ladle into jars, leave some room at the top for the air to expand while it cooks a second time in the canner.
Top the jars with lids, gently screw on the bands, and then get those bad boys in the canner. I use this nifty basket to hold the jars and it makes for easy lifting. Cook the jars in the canner for the amount of time specific in your recipe!!! Yes, this matters.
Once the jars have fully cooled and self sealed (you will hear a pop as the lids compress while the jars cool, that’s how you know its working!) you have beautiful jars of yummy, preservative free jam. Just fruit, sugar and some love. 🙂
Daily Question: What fruit jam is your favorite?
*Note: I do recommend buying Ball’s Blue Book for more detailed recipes, or you can use the recipes on the Sure-Jell box.