As I explained in yesterday’s post I’m trying to get canning down so when it comes time to make a ton of jams, chutney, pickles, and preserves in general I’ll be all set. I really want to get it right the first time so I don’t botch a ton of great produce from faulty methods. Yesterday I canned some pizza sauce and today I tried my hand at what I thought would be strawberry jam. Well, I wasn’t sure how much “2 quarts” was equal to in lbs while standing in the store so I just grabbed one lb of strawberries – it was about half the amount I needed to make the jam. Actually less than half! It was a total of 2 cups crushed. Thankfully my mom had loaded me up on raspberries from her garden and I still had a big bag left over. I thawed them out and added them to the mix… still not enough – how about 1 cup of blue berries too! Perfect.
Here is how I made my jam
8 – 8oz jars with rings and new lids
1 LARGE sauce pan – I thought mine was big, but now I know better
1 HUGE crock pot (like those enamel speckled ones) – it needs to be able to have a rack in it and then the jars and then 1-2 inches of water and then another 2 inches above that for boiling room – i used my pressure cooker and just didn’t seal the lid (which I read works and it did)
tongs of some kind to pick up the jars – jar tongs are best but not required
Helpful but optional supplies
small sauce pan for lids
magnetic lid stick (picks up the lids nice and easy out of the hot water)
stick to release air bubbles (a really clean chop stick works well)
1 package pectin (comes with instructions – I used Sure-gell)
7 cups granulated white sugar – holy crap that’s a lot of sugar
2 cups crushed strawberries (1 lb container)
2 cups blackberries or raspberries crushed
1 cup blueberries crushed
Make sure to follow the directions contained in the Sur-gel box – they have it down to a science. I pretty much followed the instructions – except the berry ratio is different. Here is how it went down and what I learned along the way.
I started out by mashing all my strawberries (cleaned and halved) and then realized that I only had 2 cups mashed.
So I added the additional blackberries and blueberries and mashed some more.
And I still had some HUGE chunks of strawberries – so I decided to whip out the good ol’ immersion blender and get rid of some of them. It is still pretty chunky, but not bad.
I put the berry mixture into my biggest sauce pan and started heating it up to a boil. I added the pectin to the berries and stirred often until it came to a full boil and continued to boil even when stirred.
In the meantime I sterilized all my jars and rings just for good measure, I figured it wouldn’t hurt any. I took them out of the pot after a few minutes and got them ready to receive their jam. I took the pan off the heat and dropped in the lids to sterilize those too.
Then I added all the sugar and stirred while it came back to a rapid boil – it actually spilled over a little bit, but not too bad, I had to stir really carefully. I let it boil while stirring for exactly one minute. Took it off the heat and poured into my jars. Capped them – You just put the lid on and then screw it on, not really tight, like don’t wrench it closed. Then I placed them in my pot and poured a little boiling water over the top to make sure they were covered all the way. I boiled them for 10 minutes. It’s kind of neat because you take them out of the boiling water, set them on the drying rack and “pop pop pop” all the lids get sucked in as soon as they start cooling down. Once they are all the way cool I’m going to take off the rings, wipe them down, and store them for later tastiness. I did keep one unsealed and am just letting it set up. I made some super heavy whole grain bred on that would just taste wonderful with some treo berry jam.
Craft Cat Molly stared like a big creep-o the whole time I was making the jam. I would like to say she was supervising, but I think she was just plotting my death.
She said you should check out these great resources for preserving fresh produce:
Canning USA – we really liked their videos on salsa and tomatoes in general
Pick Your Own.org – she has a nice faq for strawberry jam and some nice pictures of the process
Ball has a great section of tutorials for low and high acid canning that you can go through on the site or download the pdf
National Center of Home Preservation – this is probably THE best source for safe preserving methods and recommendations
Oh and I picked a book from the Ames Public Library today called The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader And it is packed with a ton of great info on all types of preserving from drying to canning to cold storage. Plus there are 150 delicious recipes for making all sorts of chuntneys, relishes, pickles, vinegars, jams, and jellies. Yum yum yum. I still haven’t used my gift certificate to better world books so I think I will to get a copy of this. I think it will prove to be a valuable resource all year round – but especially when looking for ideas on how to use up all those great veggies this summer.
So have any of you ever canned before? What do you like to preserve? Have you ever done cold storage to keep potatoes fresh longer? I’ve been thinking about trying it for this year’s potato crop – if I don’t eat them all first, haha.
Have a great night!
ps – in honor of full disclosure, I just wanted to let you know I posted this over on Craft Leftovers too