Jam for beginners

I just made my first jam! I chose strawberry; the ingredients were easy to get a hold of, and it’s popular… and it’s so, so good, I’m sharing the recipe I found in a magazine.

This is a long boil jam. It’s not freezer jam. It can be stored on a shelf for up to one year. Once opened, it will be good for about 3 weeks to a month. Follow the recipe exactly, never half or double the recipe or the jam may not set properly.

Recipe Ingredients:

8 cups crushed strawberries (do not wash them. Cooking will sterilize them. The excess water will only hinder the jelling process. It is also best to use slightly under-ripe fruit than over ripe, for reasons of pectin content and flavour)

1/3 cup lemon juice

6 cups sugar

Wash and hull the strawberries. Crush them and measure into a large, deep stainless steel pot. Add the lemon juice and sugar.

Cook time: 40 minutes.

Yield – 8x250 or 236 ml jars. (I got 9, but I think I put slightly less in each one)

I found this to be complicated at first, but it’s really not once you start. I did this without a canner, and with only what I had in my kitchen. If you have a stock pot, this would be the time to use it. I used a deep pot for the recipe, another deep pot for sterilizing the jars and snap lids, and once the recipe was made and the jars filled and covered, I quickly washed out the deep pot I used for the recipe, and used it to boil the jars. It worked perfectly.

Also note – this can get messy. Not like that’s a deterrent!

Place the empty jars on a rack in a boiling canner (I used a deep pot). Cover the jars with water (or as close to covered as you can) and bring to a simmer (note: if you can’t completely cover the jars with water for sterilization, rotate them a little every now and then in the water. Also, a dishwasher will sterilize them as well. Just be sure to keep them warm). Set the screw bands aside. Heat the snap lids as well, NOT boiling (I put the snap lids into the same pot as my jars). Keep them all warm until ready to use.

*I had the jars and lids in the water heating while I was making the recipe.

Prepare the recipe above. To reduce the foaming that will occur, add ½ tsp of butter or vegetable oil to the mixture, if desired. I did. I was happy I did.

Bring the mixture to a boiling point slowly, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil vigorously for the approximate cook time listed above – 40 minutes. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.

When conducting a gel test to see if the jam is ready, remove the pot from the burner to prevent over cooking.


Gel test:

Before cooking the mixture, put a saucer into the freezer. To conduct a gel test to see if the jam is done, remove the saucer and place some jam onto it, placing it back into the freezer until it reaches room temp. Take it out, run your finger through it. If the line your finger made stays, it’s good. If the jam seeps back into the tunnel your finger just made, it’s still too runny and needs to be cooked longer.

If the 40 minute mark has passed and the jam is still not jelled enough, just keep cooking it until it is finished, remembering to stir frequently. The proportions measured for the recipe may not have been exact, causing this to happen, but it’s no big deal. Just cook it until it’s ready.

Remove from heat. If there is any foam, skim it off. Remove the hot jars from the pot and ladle the hot jam into them. Use a non-metallic utensil to remove air bubbles by moving it around in the mixture. Wipe the jar rim to remove any stickiness and center the hot snap lid on the jar. Apply the screw band securely and firmly, until resistance is met – finger tight. Don’t over tighten.

Place the jars in the canner (or in my case, a deep pot of water) and bring to a boil. Boil the filled jars for 10 minutes. Don’t start timing until the water is boiling. Remove the jars without tilting, and cool them upright, undisturbed for 24 hours. Do not re-tighten screw bands.

After cooking, check the seals. The lids should be down and should not snap when pressed. Label the jars and store in a cool, dark place.

Voila! You have jam.




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