Today we are going to talk about canning strawberry jam. I make jam because I like it a little thicker and with bits of fruit in it. Full disclosure, I use the Ball Home Preserving book as a guide and then adjust to how I think I need to as it is being made. You can only “wing it” after you have made some so I would suggest going strictly by the book (or instructions) at first so you don’t poison your whole family. I am kidding, it’s easy to not poison everyone when you are making jam. You do need to take some food safety precautions but really, this is going in a hot water bath and not a pressure canner. This post is lengthy so if you don’t have time to read through all of my rambling, get the book and follow the directions.
First you need some strawberries. It’s ok to get them at the grocery store when they are super cheap like this time of year because they are in season. I have several places to pick my own, so I do that but you don’t have to. If you live in a city or other place where this is not available, just buy them and come home. For this recipe you will need about 8 cups of whole strawberries. Don’t worry if you get too many, you can always eat them.
You will need these tools on hand, you can find most things at Tractor Supply. It might seem a little pricey at first but you want this stuff. Water Bath Canner set is a good place to start. Once you become a good canner, you can upgrade your stuff as you like. I have kept my old trusted set.
OK, so you have your set and everything out, you have your strawberries. Don’t forget your jars, lids and rings. You can always get extra lids and rings at the grocery store if you need to.
You will want to have washed the jars in the dishwasher just to make sure no manufacturing junk is still on them. Most sets also come with labels too so you can mark and date what you make. I write it on the lids, because you can’t reuse the lids. Remember this, YOU CANNOT REUSE THE LIDS. Some people will say it is ok but you want to make sure the lids seal every time you can and there is a wax ring on them that can wear out over time. I always use new lids. The rings are the screw ons that you will use after you put the lids on.
OK. Now we have everything we need to make jam. Our jars are clean and all of our equipment is ready to go. First you are going to cut the strawberries. The tops need to be off and you may want to remove the core. This is the most tedious of jobs when it comes to making jam because it takes a little while. I usually fill my bath canner at this point to just above a jar level and turn it on warm on the stove. I also put my lids in a small sauce pan and turn that on low to warm up that wax.
After you have cut the tops off and cored your strawberries, you can take a cookie sheet and start mashing them. Or to be less messy, use a blender to mash them quickly. Mash or mix to the desired texture that you like your jam. If you like big chunks, you will leave more of those in the mixture.
Put your jars in the bath canner to let them warm up. Still keep that stove on warm and not really hot to boil, yet.
Take your strawberries and the little pot that came with your set and put those on another burner on the stove. You are going to mix in 7 cups of sugar while cooking on high. I use 5 cups of sugar because I don’t need my jam to be so sweet you can’t see. The recipe in the book calls for 7 so if you want to do that this first go, do that. You can going to bring the strawberries to a boil and add that sugar all in one motion. Just pour it all in there and stir stir stir. You will also want to add one package of pectin. Make sure all pectin and sugar is dissolved. Stir this mixture for 1 full minute after it is at a hard boil.
A foam will appear on the top. Use a spoon to remove this foam and discard it in the sink. It sounds harder than it is.
Turn your heat up on the jars in the water bath canner. Remove the strawberry mixture from heat after 1 minute of stirring on full rolling boil. Now, you are going to take your jars out of the canner and put them on the counter to fill. Use the funnel! Otherwise you have molten strawberry juice and pieces all over the place. Fill each jar, leaving about 1/4 a head space in the jar. After all jars are filled, you will use the little scraper in your set and stick it in all jars around the edge to get any air bubbles out. Now you will be ready to take those lids that have been simmering and put them on. Use the magnet tool in your set to get them out of that hot water. Place them on the jars and then use your rings or bands to tighten them. Screw those on tight but not SO tight. Place each jar in the water bath canner after the lids and rings are on. Lower back into the water, that should be over the top of the jars, and put the lid on once all jars are inside. Make sure your heat is high and you want to start a timer once this water reaches a boil. Boil 10 minutes.
While they are boiling, prepare a towel or place on the counter to put the jars when they come out. After 10 minutes of full boil on the jars, remove the lid and turn off the heat. Let the jars cool in there for a few minutes before you remove them. Take each jar out and let it sit on the counter until they reach room temperature. You should hear some little pops as they seal after coming out of the water bath. Just let them sit there until they are cool enough to store in your pantry or other area. They don’t need the fridge until they have been opened. Once they are totally cooled off, put your labels on or write on the lids. After 24 hours, check the lids for the seal. It should be dented in and not out to make sure they are sealed. If not, try water bath again and that should do it. Screw the rings/bands on tighter before storing.
I know this got long so I suggest reading it and taking some notes. Or get the book and go by what it says. Enjoy your own strawberry jam all year and don’t worry about having to get it at the grocery store in January.