Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Homemade Strawberry Jam Tutorial

It's really easy, and fun, in my opinion, to make your own jam.  It's also healthier and better for the budget!  I'm a fan of anything that can be considered more natural and/or budget friendly!  And I really LOVE it when those to things go hand in hand - which they usually do!

 I love to can and freeze.  I love it because you can skip whole sections of your grocery store - not because you don't have the money, but because you already have it at home - AND you know that yours is homemade, taste better and is very nutritious!

Picking and washing...

Pick berries that are nice and red. Plump, no mushy or discolored spots.  Organic is a nice plus!  :)  

Rinse berries in cold water.  I like to let mine sit in a bowl of water for a few moments while I gather the things I need.  {Raw sugar or honey, jars, pectin, a knife, ladle, rings and lids, large pot, water bath caner, spoon, small pot with water {to boil lids and rings} and a sink full of soapy water to clean as you go....and you may need a few kids to do odd jobs as you go...I've a few I can rent out if you need one!}

Next cut the leaves of the tops of the strawberries and any mushy spots off too.  Strawberries go in the big pot and strawberry tops go in the compost bin.  

Now it's time to mash.....

  Kids love to smash things!  Grab a kid, hand him a spoon and make a useful critter out of him.  He'll have great fun...but better watch!  They seem to think it's a free for all.  You may end up with much less jam than you had planned if you turn your back for too long!  ;)

You can leave the berries as big or as small as you wish.  It's your jam.  If mashing with a spoon or a potato masher isn't working for you, you can use a food processor.  

Let's get this party started...

Put your mashed up strawberries on the stove and add 1/4 - 1/2 of a cup of raw sugar or honey per pint of strawberries and follow the directions on your package of "Low Sugar Pectin".   

Bring your strawberries to a rapid boil, stirring occasionally.  Add your  pectin, sugar or honey, and butter if you like.  {Some people use butter to help cut back on the "frothy stuff".  I don't worry about it.  You can skim it off later or just do what I do and don't worry about it.  It's nothing more than jam with air bubbles in it.}

You can prepare your jars while your fruit is coming to a boil if you haven't already.

Bring to a rapid boil that can't be stirred down.  Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  

Remove from heat and skim foam {or frothy stuff} if necessary.  Like I said, I don't worry about it.  You can skim it off and use it for breakfast the next morning or serve it right away on toast for a nice snack.

Let set for about 5 minutes.  Jam should start to thicken or set. You will know when it's thick enough by the "spoon test".  If the jam is thick enough to stay on the spoon, you know that it's ready to be ladled into the hot, sterilized jars. 

Do be sure your jars are CLEAN!

Ladle hot jam into your jars....

Ladle hot jam into your clean, prepared jars.  Be sure your rims are clean and chip free.  Add your sterilized lids and rings.  Tighten them carefully and put in your water bath caner.  

I have a water bath caner, but it's MASSIVE and I'm only making 4 pints tonight, so I opted to use my pressure caner and just leave the lid the same!

I think I can...

There you have 4 pint jars in my super old pressure caner.  {It was my great-grandmother's, but that just makes me love it even more!}  Be sure the jars are covered by at least 2 inches of water.  Bring water to a boil.  Let boil at least 10 minutes.  15 for quart jars.  

Remove from caner and allow to cool.  You should hear the, pop-pop-poping of the lids as they seal themselves!  Music to my ears! 

Some people don't take the time to process their jam in the water bath, they simply add the hot liquid to the hot jars, and let them seal themselves.  I've done this before, and it does work, but I don't recommend it.  

After spending all the time and effort to prepare and preserve, I say take the extra step.  It's so much better to know that your jars are sealed and your food is safely preserved.  You can do all the kitchen clean up while the jars are processing and when it's all said and done you can rest knowing that the jars are sealed and your food will last for a very long time!

And finally..... 

You need taste- testers!  I always save a bit of the left-overs along with the foam for late nigh snacks and breakfast for the next morning.  Taste good on ice cream too! 

As far as the foam goes ~  I always skim if I'm making it for someone else just because it looks better without it.  I really don't care how it looks if it's just for us.  It tastes the same and it's all used and gone after the first 2 slices of toast or PB&J sandwiches anyway.

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  1. Thanks for the nice tutorial. I haven't tried canning, yet. Someday I will do that. You're right about homemade stuff tasting better and being better for you. The plus is that you also know exactly what is going into the foods that you're eating, too :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;)

  2. Yum yum yum! I cannot wait till I have enough saved so I can pressure can. I just started doing fruits, stock and tomatoes a few weeks ago!