Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Making Jam

When I was little I very rarely ate store bought Jam. The simple reason was my grandmother seemed to have/be making a never ending supply of jam, mostly strawberry. I remember standing on a stool as a little girl, wearing a handmade apron, watching the strawberries boil away. When she stopped making it, it took me years to adjust back to the store bought variety, granted there are some very fancy store ones now, that are much better than average, but nothing compares to homemade, fresh jam made from deliciously in season fruit. So, for the first time ever, I whipped out my canner and mason jars, and made some fresh jam. The only problem with making jam is that I simultaneously want to share it with everyone I know and keep it all for my hungry self.

Before making your own jam for canning, I recommend checking out The National Center for Home Food Preservation's website. They have lots of useful information about canning safely, the different canning methodologies, using pectins (which I didn't), and recipes too. Here are both the recipes I made, the way I processed the jars is at the very bottom.

First I pre-sterilized the jars by filling them with warm to hot water, and putting them in a canner(a giant pot with a special rack for the jars) and then filling the rest of the canner with warm/hot water. Bring to a boil, then boil COVERED for 10 minutes, it was probably a little longer, because I just boiled them while I was making the jam and left them in there until I was ready to ladle the jam in, since it is best to hot-pack the jars. Leave the pot covered as much as possible and keep the water boiling.

Strawberry Preserves:
6 cups of strawberry
4 1/2 cups of sugar

Wash the strawberries. Slice the strawberries in half or quarters for large strawberries and mix with sugar in a big bowl. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Heat in a large skillet or pot until boiling, then boil until the mixture becomes thick and gels, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim the foam off the top as best you can before filling the jars. This made enough jam to fill 5 half pint jars, although one definitely had a little less than the others.

(Adapted from the he National Center for Home Food Preservation)

Spiced Peach-Blueberry Jam:
4 1/2 cups of peaches, chopped (about 3 lbs)
3 1/2 cups of blueberries (approximately one large container)
2 tbsp of lemon juice, about half a juicy lemon
1/2 cup of water
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tbsp of whole allspice (this doesn't have to be exact)
1.2 tbsp of whole cloves (this doesn't have to be exact)
a piece of cheese cloth

Wash all the fruit. Chop the peaches into pieces similar to what you would find in canned fruit salad (so pretty small). I left the skin on and the jam came out wonderful, you can peel them (in the original recipe they did). Heat the fruit, water and lemon juice in a large skillet or pot, bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Tie the cinnamon stick, allspice and cloves in a piece of cheese cloth. (Note: Tie very tightly because if you don't it will spill out into the jam, which is fine the jam will still seal and is perfectly delicious, but biting into a whole clove is not pleasant). Stir sugar and salt into fruit until combined, when fully combined add toss in cheese cloth. Allow to boil for about 15 minutes until jam is thickened. Stir frequently, but gently (again to prevent the cloth from opening). It is definitely a little extra work to "spice" the jam, but it is so delicious and totally worth it.

(Adapted from the he National Center for Home Food Preservation)

To fill and process jam:

Remove Jam from heat. Ladle jam into hot, pre-sterilized 1/2 pint jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of head space. Basically, fill until just below where the grooves on the top of the jar are, then wipe the top part clean. Put the 2 part lid on the jars and screw the lids on tightly. Place the jars back in the rack and load into the canner/pot, that is already full of boiling water from the pre-sterilizing process (it is easiest to just keep the water covered at a boil the whole time). Boil for 10 minutes to seal jars. Remove jars from the water and let cool on a counter with a few inches in between each jar. When the jars have cooled completely, test to make sure they are sealed by pressing on the lids, if the lid pops back when you press on it then the jars are not sealed, refrigerated immediately and use it up within 2 weeks. If the lids are sealed then the jam is shelf stable for about 18 months, but refrigerated after opening.

The blueberries and peaches cooking...

The strawberries boiling away...

The peach-blueberry jam I didn't seal cooling (so I could eat it immediately)...

The sealed jars cooling...

Happy Eating.



  1. They look fantastic! I made raspberry jam a few days ago too. Nothing tastes as good as homemade jam & jellies. I really want to make the peach blueberry one, YUM!

  2. This looks really interesting. I've never made my own jam, or even thought about it, but the steps seem pretty straight forward. I don't have a canner though. Is it possible to make just one jar for immediate use?

  3. Lady T - You can make jam and not can it, then it can be refrigerated and consumed safely for about 2 weeks, it will still be delicious, it will just be delicious now instead of a few months from now.

  4. Yum - I'm with you on the whole 'give it away/keep it all for yourself' dilemma! I picked wild blackberries yesterday and half an hour later, I had 3 pots of lovely bramble jelly. I did manage to bring myself to part with one today but only because I know it's going to a good home.


  5. Awesome thanks!! Look forward to trying it out.

  6. Yum, your strawberry preserves look wonderful. So much nicer than store-bought.
    My grandmother used to make jams too...plum and grape ones.


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