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How to Can Strawberry Jam
Reasons to Make Strawberry Jam
Canning has experienced an increase lately, as people seek a way to have cost-effective, wholesome food available for their families. Canning strawberry jam takes a little time, but is extremely easy to do - the process of gathering berries and making the jam is a process the entire family can participate in. There are several reasons to make your own jam:
- Canning jam is cheaper than buying it at the store. I recently bought $12 of strawberries at a pick-your-own farm, which produced 20 jars of jam. This is a cost of only $0.60 per jar (the cost rises to about $0.74 per jar when the cost of sugar is included).
- There are no chemical dyes, preservatives, or high fructose corn syrup in homemade jam. Many store-bought versions of jam contain (at the very least) corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup; many contain artificial dyes to mask the dull color of sub par fruit. Homemade jam contains strawberries, sugar, and pectin.
- Homemade strawberry jam has a brighter, richer flavor. Finding a pick-your-own farm greatly enhances the flavor of the jam, because these farms often contain different strawberry varieties and the picker can choose the ripest, reddest strawberries from the plants. Strawberries available in stores are generally chosen for their ability to withstand shipping conditions, and not flavor.
Pick Fresh Strawberries at a Farm
Strawberry Jam Ingredients
- Strawberries. A pick-your-own farm is the best source for strawberries, though store-bought berries will work fine, too. If you are picking your own berries, look for berries that are entirely red, have a brilliant color, and have no signs of rot. One bad berry can contaminate the rest of the batch. You will need 5 cups of strawberries for the recipe, so purchase two quarts to ensure there are enough berries.
- Sugar. 7 cups will be required for the recipe, so be sure to have a sufficient supply on hand.
- Pectin. Pectin can be purchased in the same aisle that contains canning supplies. I typically use Sure-Jell pectin, because the recipes call for a whole box (this eliminates having to measure out pectin - a bonus when your hands are messy from mashing berries)!
Basic materials are required for canning, and all can be purchased at a supermarket or general store. Search garage sales for canning jars, as this will save a large sum of money (the rims and jars are reusable, but the lids must be purchased new every time).
- A canning pot. These are very large pots with a removable rack. The jars sit inside the canner on the rack, and the rack can be lowered or raised into the boiling water.
- A canning supply kit containing: a lid lifter (magnetic), jar lifting forceps, funnel, and head space measuring tool).
- Canning jars - I use the 8 oz. jelly jars made by Ball for my canning. When bought new, these come with rims and lids. If using older jars, new lids will have to be ordered.
- A large saucepan for cooking the jam.
- A smaller saucepan for boiling the lids.
- A kitchen timer.
- Kitchen towels, including a wet washcloth for wiping the rims of the filled jars.
- A wooden spoon for mixing the jam.
- a large casserole dish (the strawberries will be mashed in this).
- A measuring cup.
Preparing to Can
Wash the jars and rims with soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and set aside to dry. Set the lids into a small saucepan and boil to sterilize.Set up a "work station" which can tolerate hot objects and is resistant to staining. I use a card table for filling my jars: it is inexpensive and tolerates a lot of abuse!
Strawberry Jam Recipe PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Strawberry Jam Recipe
- Measure out exactly 5 cups of strawberries into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mash the strawberries with the back of a measuring cup.
- Pour the mashed strawberries into the large saucepan.
- Add the box of pectin and stir until it is dissolved.
Once this step is completed, place the lids in a small saucepan filled with water and boil to sterilize the lids.
- Fill the canner with water and set it on the stove-top to boil. It will take quite some time for the water to reach a boil: make sure the water level is deep enough to cover the submerged cans by 1-2".
COOKING THE JAM
- Measure out 7 cups of sugar into a bowl and set aside. Measure the sugar exactly, as too little sugar will result in a poor jam set.
- Set the saucepan of jam on the stove and stir gently until it comes to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is when the pot of jam is still boiling, even when stirred.
- Add the sugar to the jam and stir to dissolve. Continue stirring. Skim off any foam.
- When the jam has reached a full, rolling boil, set the kitchen timer for 1 minute. Boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from the stove-top.
FILLING THE JARS
- Place the funnel on top of a jar and pour the hot jam into the jar. Leave 1/8" head space.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp washcloth, removing any jam from the top and rings of the jar.
- Using the lid lifter, remove a lid from the boiling water and place it on top of the jar.
- Secure the lid with a ring.
- Repeat this process for each jar. To speed this process, I usually fill all of the jars, then wipe all of the jars, and then put a lid on each jar (rather than working on one jar at a time).
Processing the Jam
- Place the filled jars onto the rack in the canner. Lower the rack into the canner, ensuring the water depth is sufficient to cover each jar to a depth of 1-2". Cover the canner and bring the water to a gentle boil. Process the jam for a full 10 minutes (if you live above 6,000 feet, the jam will have to be processed for 15 minutes).
- Remove the hot jars from the canner and tighten the rims - use a washcloth or towel to protect your hands from the heat of the jar.
- Place the jars on the counter and allow them to cool at room temperature. Let the jars sit for a full 24 hours.
- The lids will begin "pinging," which means a vacuum has been created in the jar, forcing the seal down. Test each jar lid to ensure a proper seal has been formed. If the center of the jar flexes up and down, the jam in that jar must be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks. A properly sealed jar will have a center seal that remains down at all times.
- Store the jam in a cool, dark location (like a pantry) for up to 1 year.
The Final Strawberry Jam
Label the jam and store it in the pantry. Homemade strawberry jam is unrivaled in flavor - we frequently eat the jam on toast, biscuits, and on the kid's sandwiches. Slight variations in the recipe work well: I recently made strawberry-blueberry jam with 4 cups of strawberries and 1 cup of blueberries. The resultant jam was a beautiful, jewel-toned purple.
The only difficulty with canning your own jam is that it will be in high demand, so make a lot of jars to keep an adequate supply!