Day 4: Strawberry Jam Challenge Let's Make Jam
The Strawberry Jam Challenge Canning Day!
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Yeah! We are finally here. Let’s get jamming.
Make sure you have all your canning equipment and ingredients on hand before you begin.
Run through the checklist once more to just to make sure! Read the instructions from start to finish a couple of times.
Print them out and have them close by so you can refer to the steps as you are making your strawberry jam.
Strawberry Jam Ingredients
- 4 cups of sliced strawberries, (about 2 quarts of berries)
- 7 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine (optional)
- 3 oz Certo Liquid Pectin
Getting ready to make jam!
Clean off a work station. Your kitchen counter, a kitchen island or table top will work.
This area should be close to the stove where you will be cooking the jam. Set up your canning area close to the stove.
You’ll also need enough room for the pot of hot strawberry jam, the jars and all of the tools required to make a batch of jam.
I place a towel or a double layer of dish towels on the counter right next to my stove. I place all of the tools, jars, bands and flat lids in this area. First I wash all of the jars, lids and bands with hot soapy water and check the rim of each canning jar for cracks or chips. Discard any damaged jars.
I then place the washed jars, lids and bands on the towels ready to sterilize.
To make room on my counter for the other items I place the washed jars into the empty hot water bath canning pot right side up on top of a rack.
I then fill the pot with water making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Once the pot is filled with water I then place it on a burner and turn the heat on high and bring to a boil.
To properly sterilize the jars the water must come to a full boil and boil continuously for 10 minutes.
When using the freshTech Automatic Canning System I follow the manufacturer's instructions for filling with water and placing the jars inside the appliance. I do not start the sterilizing process until 15 minutes before I start cooking the jam. See next section.
Next I wash and set out all the items I will need to make a batch of jam on the towel. This area is also where you will fill the hot jars with hot jam.
Sterilizing Canning Jars
Sterilizing the canning jars is one of the most important steps in canning!
Two canning pot options
Place the empty jars in a deep pot like the Ball Canning Pot on the left and fill the pot with water making sure that the jars are covered by 1 inch of water.
Using a large enamel pot will allow you to sterilize and hot water bath preserve up to 10 half pint jars at a time.
If you don’t have a large canning pot you can use a two smaller pots if you have room on your stove. The problem with this is that you will need two racks, one for each pot. If you are making a smaller batch of jam that will only yield 4 half pints a smaller pot is an option.
This recipe will make 7-8 half pint jars.
NOTE: Do not attempt to sterilize 4 jars in a smaller pot, cook the jam and fill those jars. Then begin to sterilize the other 3 or 4 jars you will need for the rest of this batch of jam.
You need to fill hot jars with hot jam to safely store the jam for an extended period of time.
I would not suggest keeping the jam on a warm burner while the second batch of jars sterilizes either. Overheating or over cooking jam that has been prepared with liquid pectin will not yield a perfect batch of jam.
The pectin and fruit should only be cooked 1 minute as directed on the package. The jam needs to be at or near the temperature it was at during boiling.
The freshTECH Automatic Home Canning System is my choice when it comes to sterilizing canning jars and hot water bath canning.
It really makes the process of sterilizing and preserving with the hot water bath canning method so much easier.
Sterilizing jars in the freshTECH Automatic Home Canning System
It is a pricey little appliance that will only be used when canning. It would make a perfect Christmas gift so leave a few hints with family members if you think you might use it.
Start the Jam making process
Measure the sugar into the a bowl.
Cut the top off the liquid pectin pouch off and stand the pouch in an empty glass next to the stove within reach of the burner you are cooking on.
Prepare the fruit
TIP: Do not remove the stems from the strawberries before rinsing to keep the strawberries from absorbing extra water.
Rinse the strawberries under cool water in a large colander and allow to drain well before proceeding.
Cut the cap and leaves off then cut the berries into slices and put into a large bowl.
Crush the chopped strawberries using a potato masher or the bottom of a heavy glass.
Cooking the jam
Put the sugar, crushed strawberries and butter in a large non reactive pot.
Place the pot on a burner and set the heat on low. Stir well to mix the strawberries with the slowly dissolving sugar and melting butter.
Once the sugar has dissolved turn the burner temperature up to medium high.
Continue stirring the mixture until it comes to a full roiling boil.
Once the jam ingredients come to a full roiling boil.
TIP: A Roiling boil is a boil that can not be stirred down. See video.
Check out this short video I made as I was making a batch of strawberry jam. This is what Strawberry Jam at the roiling boiling point looks like.
Continue to stir with one hand as you empty the entire pouch of liquid pectin into the pot with your free hand.
As soon as the jam ingredients come back to a roiling boil set a timer for 1 minute.
Stir the boiling jam constantly during the one minute.
Once the minute is up using pot holders carefully move the pot of very hot jam off the hot burner.
Use caution as splashing hot scalding jam on yourself will burn badly.
TIP: I like to place the pot on a towel on the counter next to where I will fill my jam jars.
Skim the foam
The amount of foam that forms will vary from batch to batch of jam.
Using a tablespoon skim the foam off the top of the hot jam by gently pulling the edge of the spoon across the top of the jam.
Try not to dip the spoon edge below the foam too much or you will be throwing away part of your jam batch with the foam.
Discard the foam in a nearby sink or garbage can.
Filling the jars
Carefully remove one hot and sterilized jar from the pot with jar lifter.
Using a towel to protect your hand flip the jar upside down so the water drains out onto the towel then flip the jar right side up.
Place the wide mouth funnel in the top of the jar. Use the ladle to carefully fill the jar with hot jam leaving a ¼ headspace.
If you bought the Ball 9 Piece Home Preserving Kit you will have the headspace tool to measure the headspace.
If you do not have the tool the very top thread inside the lip of the jar is exactly ¼ of an inch.
With the dampened paper towel wipe the rim of the jar to remove any jam that may be present.
Place a flat lid on the jar and screw on a band just to finger tight. Place the filled jar to the side out of your way as you repeat the steps to fill all of the jars.
NOTE: It is no longer recommended that you need to heat or boil the flat canning lids to get a proper seal.
NOTE: Once you get to the last jar to fill you may find that there is not enough jam to completely fill the jam to the ¼ inch head space. This is very common. Place a flat lid and band on that jar and refrigerate it to be used immediately.
Never hot water bath preserve a jar that has not been filled to the recommended headspace.
Hot Water Bath Processing
Place your filled strawberry jam jars into a large pot with a wire, metal or plastic rack on the bottom of the pot.
You can use the same pot and water that you used to sterilize your jars.Once you have placed as many jars as possible that will fit into the pot without touching pour enough water into the pot to cover the jars by at least one inch.
Turn the burner on high and bring the water to a full boil. Place the lid on the pot and boil for 10 minutes.
Set a timer to make sure you boil the jam jars for at least 10 minutes. Once the jam has been processed for 10 you can safely store the jars for 12 months.
When the timer goes off turn the burner off. Carefully remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter and place them back on the towel on the counter to cool.
NOTE: Ball has recently updated their flat canning lids. Check the label on the box of lids you have purchased.
Once the jam jars have been processed with new flat lids your jam can be safely stored for 18 months.
NOTE: It is now recommended that you remove the bands for storage.
If processing the strawberry jam in the freshTech Automatic Home Canning System please follow the manufacturer's directions
Cooling the processed jars of jam
Freshly processed jars should be allowed to cool for 24 hours before storing.
How to check for a proper seal
If this is your first time making jam you might have noticed when you lifted the hot jam jars from the hot water bath canner you could hear a soft pinging sound from some or all of the jam jars.
This magical sound is the sound of your jam jars sealing. It is possible that all of your jars made a pinging sound as you removed them from the pot.
More than likely there were a few jars that did not make the sound at the very moment you removed them from the canning pot.
As the jam jars cool you will randomly hear the soft pinging sound if you are listening for it.
It can take up to 24 hours for some jars to seal. This is common and you have no need to worry during the first 24 hours.
After 25 hours you should check each and every jar lid to make sure it has sealed before storing.
Run a finger over the center of each jar lid. A properly sealed jar will be completely flat and will not give as you push down on it in the center.
If a jar or two has not sealed properly after 24 hours you can try and place the jars back into the canning pot and boil for 10 minutes following the same steps as above.
If the jars did not seal the second time around place them in the refrigerator and enjoy the jam instead of storing them.
Never store a jar of jam or jelly that has not sealed properly!
NOTE: Why didn't my jars seal properly? More than likely when you were filling those jars they were either overfilled or under filled and will not seal properly. This is why filling the jars to the proper head space is so important.
Home canned jams and jellies will have a slightly different set than store bought jams and jellies. They will not be as firm as some store bought jams and jellies are.
They will have a thick spreadable consistency. When homemade jam is warm or at room temperature it will be much thinner than it will be after refrigeration.
Always refrigerate you jam or jelly before testing for a proper set.
Usually strawberry jam will have set in the first 24-48 hours.
NOTE: Jams, jellies and marmalades made with citrus can take weeks to reach their proper set.
Congratulations you have just made a batch of homemade strawberry jam! Sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy your homemade jam!