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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Here's One Mom's Experience While Making Raspberry and Strawberry Jam (Feel Free to Leave Some Tips)

It's Not That Hard To Make Your Own Jam (or Jelly) at Home! If I Can Do It... YOU Can! Yesterday, I made 20 8 oz. containers of Raspberry Jam (1 was Jelly for a friend who doesn't like seeds), and today I made 10 varied sized containers of Strawberry Jam (1 was Jelly because I wanted to try some myself!).

First of all, the recipe I used was straight off the Sure-Jell regular package (which can also be found on their site at Sure Jell Strawberry Jam)

Ingredients for 1 1/2 batch

SURE.JELL Strawberry Jam

Average Rating: 5 starts
Prep Time: 45 min
Total Time: 45 min
Makes: About 8 (1-cup) jars or 128 servings, 1 Tbsp. each

What You Need

5 cups prepared fruit (about 2 quarts fully ripe strawberries)
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Make It!

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 5 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.

Stir pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Kraft Kitchen Tips

Strawberry-Lime Jam
Prepare as directed, adding 2 tsp. grated lime peel and 1/4 cup lime juice to prepared strawberries in saucepot.

How to Measure Precisely
To get exact level cup measures of sugar, spoon sugar into dry metal or plastic measuring cups, then level by scraping excess sugar from top of cup with a straight-edged knife.

Altitude Chart

At altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase processing time as indicated: 1,001 to 3,000 feet - increase processing time by 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 feet - increase processing time by 10 minutes; 6,001 to 8,000 feet - increase processing time by 15 minutes; 8,001 to 10,000 feet - increase processing time by 20 minutes.

So I'll have to apologize now for the pictures... there is just something wrong with the lighting in our kitchen, and here in the Seattle area it was overcast today, so I didn't have a lot of good lighting by the windows either...

Set Up:  Here is how I have the range top and jars set up:

I actually keep the jars and lid rims hot in the dishwasher until I need them, and I then fill them inside to keep the mess easy to clean up! More on that in a moment...

I have the canner on the upper left, and I get that started while I'm getting my ingredients ready because it takes so long to bring the water to a boil.  I use the other large burner to make the jam, and behind it I have a small sauce pan of boiling water so I can get the lid inserts ready for use.

The jars should be hot when you put the jam/jelly inside so they are clean and don't shatter when you put something with a different temperature inside.  (I didn't have a lot of luck today keeping mine hot, so keep it in mind, but I didn't have any trouble with marginally warm jars.)

Cooking Your Jam/Jelly:

I followed the recipe and combined the slightly crushed strawberries and pectin in the pot and brought them to a boil. NOTE: I didn't really crush the berries much ahead of time, so I just used a potato masher while they were cooking and it turned out great and saved time!

Next, I added the sugar and stirred the jam until it boiled for a full minute.  By this time, the jam is ready to be removed from the stove and it will have a little foam on it, so try to skim off as much as you can.  (In the third picture, you can see some foam on the top of the jam.)

Prior to removing the pot from the stove, I had placed my bread board on the counter above the dishwasher so I could put the pot above the dishwasher for ease of filling the jars without scorching the counter top.

Using a funnel and a 1/2 cup measuring cup, I filled the jars (4 at a time), then used a dishwashing glove to handle the hot jars to put the lid/ring onto the jars, sealing them. I then moved the jars to the far side of the dishwasher rack.

Canning/Processing the Filled Jam Jars:

Once all the jars are filled and the lids are secure, it is time to process them in the waterbath so they can be stored in the pantry.

By now, the water in the canning pot is boiling.  Wearing the dishwashing gloves, I put the jars in making sure to balance them carefully on opposite sides to keep the weight even and stop the pot insert from falling in the water.  Once the jars are inside, lower the instert and make sure all the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water.

Process according to the instructions, in my case, it was 10 minutes.  While this was happening, I quickly put away my extra clean jars, and refilled the dishwasher with the dirty jam making things.

When the jars were ready, I took them out wearing the dishwashing gloves and a pot-holder (nope, I didn't use the neat canning jar picker-upper thing because I don't have one...), placing the jars on the clean breadboard to cool down.

After a few minutes, you may hear the tops popping a bit and this is a GOOD sign.  It is the seal becoming tighter as the jam/jelly cools.  Follow the cooling instructions, then store in a cool dark place.

Note: How To Make Jelly (no seeds) Instead of Jam (seeds):

Use a strainer or cheese cloth to strain the finished jam and take out the seeds, making it a jelly instead of a jam.  The completed jars shown are: Jelly on the left, and jam on the right.


A Note about doing this with kids...
1. I let my 4 1/2 year old help measure and combine the ingredients before it got too hot (ie, he could pour the pectin into the strawberries and he could help mix it up)
2. A 1 1/2 year old is VERY curious........ ummmmmmmm..... this made for some very interesting moments until I thought to put him in his high chair and move it to where I was working so he could see without pushing the dishwasher rack in and out...
3. Yesterday, a friend and her son came over, and she helped the kids stay out of the kitchen which was a HUGE help :)
4. After the spoons cool (yes I used more than one), the boys liked to like the jam off!!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  I am by no means an expert!!!  I've made jam a handful of times in the past, and most recently did it yesterday and today.  Make sure you follow the instructions for the type of jam/jelly you are making and the type of pectin you are using.

If you have any tips or suggestions you'd like to share, please feel free to leave a comment!!


bermudaonion said...

I've never made jam or jelly, but yours looks wonderful.

jayedee said...

my favorite parts of canning are a) lifting the jars out of the canner and hearing them 'ping' and b) how pretty all those finished jars look with the light shining thru them...like edible jewels!
*sighs* doesn't feel wonderful to feed your family food that you've seen to yourself!?

Elena said...

I like making jam, but I don't use the box instructions. Instead I like using the Berndardin Home Preserving Book.

I like the tip of using the dishwasher that way. I've used it to sanitize, but not as a place to fill the jars. I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks for the tip.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Wendi,

Jam making here in the UK is quite a thriving business these days and some of the specialist makers can charge a small fortune for their produce.

I love jam of any flavour on sandwiches (not the US version with peanut butter I'm sorry to say) and Marmalade (Not sure if you know of this), but as there are just the two of us at home and we are both out all day, we seldom eat sandwiches, so I fear that making it myself would turn into something of a waste!


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