Friday, July 18, 2014

Strawberry Jam for Beginners

Hi everyone! Charlie and I had a great time making 3 batches of fresh strawberry jam a while back so I thought I'd share how to do it for anyone interested in giving it a go.  I love to can, and I used to can all the time back before Charlie was born.  However I haven't canned for quite a while because I've been nervous about the heat and how grabby Charlie was.  Now that he's almost 4 I thought he could definitely help me this year so we gave it a go!  We picked a LOT of fresh strawberries and then made jam the next day.  I'll try and share where Charlie helped too, that way anyone with little kids around can make it as well :)

Here's what you'll need to get started

Mason jars (I chose a larger size because my husband eats jam like a fiend), a strainer, and a big bowl

A jam canning kit, a potato masher, and a cup measure.  There are lots of canning kits out there nowadays, I bought mine 5 years ago and still love it.

A small saucepan, a big pot, and a pressure canner or a big sauce pan.  I love my pressure canner (I've had it for almost 7 years!) because I don't have to worry about something boiling over, it's really big and can fit a lot of jars, plus I'm able to can things besides jam, like salsa and chicken stock.

A buttload of strawberries (child labor helps here *cough cough*), and NOT PICTURED- one packet of dry powdered pectin, 7 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp butter.

Now on to the jamming!

Step 1.

Rinse your strawberries and then cut them in to quarters.  Charlie used a butter knife to help here but loved doing it, and he did a pretty decent job too! They'll all be mashed later so it doesn't matter if they turn to mush ahead of time.  While you're doing this fill your pressure canner with water and heat on high.  Put your jars in the pressure canner ensuring they are below the water line.  Also fill your small saucepan with water and bring to a light simmer.  Add the lids for the jars and keep an eye on the water so it doesn't evaporate away.  Make sure this pan isn't boiling, or else the glue in the lids could dissolve away.

Step 2. 

Mash 'em up! Use a potato masher or the flat side of a spoon and mash those strawberries into a liquid-esque state. Charlie wasn't great at mashing but he loved pretending!  Measure out 5 cups of mashed strawberries for one batch of jam.

Step 3.

Add your strawberries plus a teeny tiny pat of butter (1/2 tbsp) into a large saucepan and heat on high. The butter supposedly helps with the foaming but my jam is usually foamy and I don't give a care.

Step 4.

Once the strawberries are boiling add 7 cups of sugar (yikes! I know it sounds nuts, but also keep in mind most people only use a little jam at one time) and one packet of DRY (NOT LIQUID or it won't set) pectin.

Step 5.

Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil vigorously for 1 minute- use a timer to make sure you're getting the timing down correctly.  For this part I made Charlie wait far away since hot + sugar = pain.  Turn off the heat and skim off the foam (if you care, I don't) and then prepare your jars.

Grab a jar from the hot canner and empty the water back in to the pot.  Place on a dish towel

Use a funnel to ladle your jam in to the jar, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace at the top (don't fill too high or your jars could explode)

Wipe down the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel to ensure there's no jam that could prevent the lid from sealing.  Grab a lid from your small saucepan and place on top of the jar.

Use your jar clamps to hold the jar while you twist on a ring top.

Place jar back in the pressure canner and repeat until all jam is used up.  Place the lid on the pressure canner and bring water to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes and remove jars from the water to a clean dish towel (there will be some popping noises).
After your jars are cool press the lids on each one to ensure there is a good seal.  If the lid pops up after you press it than the jar didn't seal properly.  No worries though, just put the jar in the refrigerator and eat it like normal! All the other jars can be stored in the pantry.

And voila! Easy peasy strawberry jam! We love this stuff at our house- give it a shot :)


  1. Thanks for sharing the info. The jam looks yummy! Looks like you had a great little helper with you...:-)

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