Did you know that you can make and can your own jam? It's actually quite easy, and it tastes much better than store-bought jam. Plus it has less chemicals and preservatives, making it a much more natural treat. You can use many kinds of fruits, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, peaches, plums, or many other fruits. You can even mix them together for your own unique jam.
- Fruit (8 cups)
- Pectin (one packet)
- Large pot
- Jar grabbing tongs
- 8-ounce canning jars with lids and rings, about 8
- Or use 4 pint-size canning jars
- Canner (a large pot to boil the jars)
Preparing the berries. The best jam is made from homemade berries. If you don't grow your own, use fresh ones. You can also use frozen ones, as long as they do not have added syrup or sugar. Do not try to double the recipe, or it will not set up correctly. Measure the berries whole, not mushed.
Sterilize the jars. Wash the jars and lids in the sterilize cycle of your dishwasher, or boil them for 10 minutes. If you choose to boil them, keep them in the hot water until you're ready to use them. Because the jam will be hot when you pour it into the jars, this will help keep them from cracking.
Clean and mash the berries. Wash the berries, and pick off any stems and leaves. Now, slightly crush the fruit. This will release natural pectin, which helps your jam thicken. Once they have been mashed, you should have about 6 cups of berries. If you want seedless jam, strain the berries.
Measuring the sugar. If you're using low-sugar pectin, use 4 cups of sugar. With regular pectin, use about 7 cups. Exact amounts can be found inside the box of pectin you choose.
Cooking the jam. Place the berries in the large pot, and add the packet of pectin. Boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Make sure that the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the sugar to the berry mixture, and bring it back to a full boil for a minute. Remove the jam from the heat and skim any foam that has formed off the top of the jam. To know if your jam is ready, place half a spoon full on an ice-cold metal spoon. Once it cools to room temperature, if it is the consistency you like, then it‘s ready. If not, mix in a little more pectin, and bring the jam to a boil once again.
Storage and serving. Fill each jar to within 1/4" of the top and wipe the rim to ensure a good seal, and screw on the lid. Now, place each jar into the canner full of boiling water. Boil them for 5 to 10 minutes. While it's important to leave them in long enough that they seal, don't leave them in too long or the jam will turn out runny. Once you remove them from the boiling water, let them sit undisturbed for about an hour. Then, check the seals by pressing down lightly in the center of the lids. As long as they have sealed properly, they can be stored on a shelf for up to a year. If one or two failed to seal, keep them in the refrigerator, and use them within a month.
Homemade jam is easy to make at home. It tastes much better than the store-bought stuff, and you have much more control over the flavor. It tastes great on toast, crackers, waffles, or pancakes and makes a great gift!