Strawberry jam

I invited a friend over recently, and she brought me a most fabulous birthday present: a canning starter kit. Wow! I was totally blown away, and very excited to make jam on my own. When Boyfriend came home and saw the canning kit, he got stars in his eyes and ran out to buy me some jars. Here is my first batch.

 

Before you get started: Listen up! Canning can kill (I should write slogans), so go read up on it before trying this at home.  In my first post about making jam with my sister M, I went into very detailed instructions, but this time I’m just posting the basic recipe and sterilization information:

  • Sanitize jars in the oven, pre-heat to 108°C / 225°F and heat jars for 10 minutes, then keep in the hot oven until needed.
  • Sanitize lids in a pot of steaming (not boiling) water, keep in hot water until needed.

Time required: 2 days (1 hour of actual work, needs to set 24 hours)

Yields: um… stay tuned on that

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $18.

Cost per jar: well…nevermind

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Pectin
  • 4½ C of crushed strawberries
  • 7 C granulated white sugar

Instructions:

1. Place canning rack in canning pot, fill with water about halfway. Simmer and cover.  Sanitized jars should be in hot oven, sanitized lids should be in hot water (see tips above).

2. In a bowl combine ¼ C white sugar and pectin. (Reserve the rest of the sugar for later.)

3. Crush the berries with a potato masher. Make sure you have 4½ C of crushed berries, which is not the same thing as 4½ C of berries. Very important difference!

Actually I didn’t own a potato masher until yesterday, I took the berries out to thaw, and realized I had nothing to crush them with. One rushed trip to the store and…

4. Transfer berries to large pot, and stir in the sugar/pectin mixture.

5. Put pot on stove and bring to a boil, then stir in remaining sugar. Increase heat til you achieve a rolling boil (can’t stir it down). Let pot boil for 1 min, stirring often.

You should stir often so it won’t scorch. It actually started to boil over at one point.

6. Remove from heat, stir and skim for 5 minutes.

Voila!

7. Place a funnel into a hot jar. Use a fresh measuring cup to spoon the jam into the jar.

8. Fill to the ¼” mark (the one tool I don’t have is a headspace gauge so I eyeballed this to the top ring).

What’s this?? Three filled jars and I’m out of jam. WTF.

9. Use the end of a measuring spoon to gently stir out air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean when you are done. (Jam on the rim will affect the seal.)

10. Use magnetic lifter to get the hot lids onto the jars.

11. Use your finger tips to screw the ring onto the jar. You don’t want it super-tight, because the air in the jar will expand as the hot jam heats it up, and that hot air needs to be able to escape the jar, to create the vacuum seal when the jar cools.

12. Now it’s time to use the canning pot and rack. The water should be hot but not boiling yet. Use the jar lifter to set the jars onto the rack. The water needs to be 1 to 2″ above the tops of the jars.

13. Turn up the heat until you have a full rolling boil, then cover and cook for 10 minutes.

14. Use jar lifter to remove jars from pot, and set into a lined pan. Leave room between jars for air to circulate. Let jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours. You should hear a “pop” as the jars cool.

15. The next day check the seal. (If you have sealed your jars correctly, you can pick them up by the lids without the lids coming off.) Remove the rings, the lids should be “sucked down”. Press down on the centre of the lids with your finger. If the lid goes down it did not seal.

Verdict: Well, considering I don’t even like strawberry anything (except the fresh fruit), I thought this was pretty good. I made strawberry because it sounded easy and Boyfriend likes it. The reason I only got three jars of jam is that I used the wrong size jars. I thought I would get six or seven 250 mL jars, but what I had was 500 mL jars, oh well!

Playlist: Final Fantasy

Blueberry jam

Last week my sister M taught me how to make blueberry jam, the same way Grandma taught her. Am feeling very proud of myself, and my jam!

Time required: 2 days (1 hour of actual work, needs to set overnight)

Yields: six 250 mL jars of jam, or 7 cups of jam

Total cost if you have none of the tools and ingredients: about $80.00 since making jam requires an initial investment to purchase the equipment. Everything you need can be purchased online at Golda’s Kitchen, they sell the Bernardin canning starter kit for $67.25 which contains:

  • waterbath canner
  • canning rack
  • jar lifter
  • funnel
  • magnetic lid lifter
  • bubble remover/headspace gauge
  • 4 mason jars with rings & lids
  • pectin
  • how-to canning DVD

FYI: The jars and rings can be re-used, but the lids cannot be. A 12-pack of lids costs $3.50, and you can also get extra jars and rings for a fairly cheap price.

To put the cost in perspective, once you have the equipment, to keep going you’ll need to keep buying white sugar, fruit, and the pectin which is $2.25 per package. The actual cost per jar is around $2-$3 which is amazing considering you can make DELICIOUS HOMEMADE JAM whenever you want.

Before you get started:

You don’t want to poison your nearest and dearest so listen up. Part of canning is learning how to properly seal the jar. If you screw this up your preserves may develop botulism which can be fatal.

Read a book on canning, ask your granny, consult the pros, know what you are doing!

Storage: if the seal is correct, jam can be stored for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place. Once the jam is opened it needs to be refrigerated. Any jar that did not seal correctly should be refrigerated and consumed within 2 weeks.

Spoilage: visible signs of spoilage may not appear right away, it can take time for bulging or leaking to occur. When you open a jar, watch out for discolouration, mold, or weird odors.

Sterilization: equipment must be sterilized before you put the ingredients together.

  • Sanitize jars in the oven, pre-heat to 108°C / 225°F and heat jars for 10 minutes, then keep in the hot oven until needed.
  • Sanitize lids in a pot of steaming (not boiling) water, keep in hot water until needed.
  • Rings do not not need to be sanitized.

Don’t tinker with the recipe. Doubling the batch or skimping on sugar will cause your jam to not set.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pectin (we used Certo)
  • 2½ C granulated white sugar (divided)
  • 1 box frozen blueberries
  • 1 C water

1. Place canning rack in canning pot, fill with water about halfway. Simmer and cover.  Sanitized jars should be in hot oven, sanitized lids should be in hot water (see tips above).

2. In a bowl combine ¼ C white sugar and pectin. (Reserve the rest of the sugar for later.)

3. If using fresh berries, crush with a potato masher. If using frozen berries, microwave them for a minute first. You need to obtain 5 cups of crushed berries (this is not 5 cups of whole berries).

A big glass measuring bowl is helpful. Once you have enough fruit, transfer to a large pot (not your canning pot).

4. Add water to fruit.

5. Add the sugar/pectin  mixture to fruit. Give it a good stir.

6. Put pot on stove and bring to a boil, then stir in remaining sugar.

Increase heat til you achieve a rolling boil (can’t stir it down). Let pot boil for 1 min, stirring often.

7. Remove fruit from heat, stir and skim for 5 minutes. See how it bunches up towards the left side? You don’t want that in your jam, gently pull it up and away and discard.

8. Place a funnel into a hot jar. Use a fresh measuring cup to spoon the jam into the jar.

9. When the jar is nearly full, use the headspace gauge. The little corners mark different heights, we filled to ¼ of an inch to the top. The jam should just touch the bottom of the gauge. (Too much space, or not enough space, affects the seal.)

10. Use the end of a measuring spoon to gently stir out air bubbles. M is braver than me, she is handling the hot jars barehanded. Wipe the rim of the jar clean when you are done. (Jam on the rim will affect the seal.)

11. Use magnetic lifter to get the hot lids onto the jars.

12. Use your finger tips to screw the ring onto the jar. You don’t want it super-tight, because the air in the jar will expand as the hot jam heats it up, and that hot air needs to be able to escape the jar, to create the vacuum seal when the jar cools.

13. Now it’s time to use the canning pot and rack. The water should be hot but not boiling yet. Use the jar lifter to set the jars onto the rack.

Use a stick to ensure you have at least one inch of water above the lids.

14. Turn up the heat until you have a full rolling boil, then cover and cook for 10 minutes.

15. Use jar lifter to remove jars from pot, and set into a lined pan. Leave room between jars for air to circulate. Let jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours. You should hear a “pop” as the jars cool.

16. The next day check the seal. (If you have sealed your jars correctly, you can pick them up by the lids without the lids coming off.) Remove the rings, the lids should be “sucked down”. Press down on the centre of the lids with your finger.

If the lid springs up after you take your finger away it did not seal. :[

17. Put on bread and enjoy!

Verdict: Making jam was very fun. I feel like a pioneer now, bring on the sod. Boyfriend was very impressed. Thank you M!! Homemade jam is also very delicious, I am enjoying some right now.

Playlist: Final Fantasy Distant Worlds