Home canning can be intimidating and a large kitchen task, but the outcome is worth the work. Homemade jam is delicious and a fairly simple home canning task to start with.
First thing’s first, food safety is very important when canning. Food poisoning is rare when making home canned goods, but make sure not to eat any preserves that have not sealed or have bloated jars or cans. Be sure to follow directions exactly and use only the ingredients listed. Preserving recipes are carefully balanced to make sure there is enough acid to kill botulism bacteria. When processing the preserves, the heat will destroy any unwanted yeasts, molds and bacteria that may be present. Don’t be scared away by the amount of sugar in making home jams. The sugar is what helps the pectin’s (thickening agent) work and is essential in a good jam.
Before you begin:
- Consider purchasing a canning utensil kit (jar tongs, jar funnel, magnetic lid lifter, bubble remover and headspace tool). They are inexpensive and supply you with all the tools needs to avoid burning yourself and breaking jars.
- Sterilize your tools for ten minutes in a boiling water bath before using them and always use clean towels.
- Use only the best strawberries you can find and only fresh lemons (no bottled juice). The better quality fruit you use, the better your jam will be.
- 6 x 12 oz / 355 ml Mason jars with new lids and rings
- 3 lbs/2 kg strawberries
- 1 package (1.75 oz/52 ml) premium fruit pectin
- ¼ cup minus 1 Tbsp lemon juice (must be fresh squeezed) and the zest from the lemons
- 7 cups organic cane sugar
Sterilizing your canning equipment:
- Wash your hands and fruit well. Wash jars, lids and rings with hot soapy water.
- Bring a large pot of water (or a water canner) and a small saucepan to a boil.
- Once boiling, add Mason jars to the large pot of water for 15 minutes. Keep in water until just before filling.
- Add rings and lids to small pot of boiling water. Turn off heat.
Preparing the jam:
- Remove stems and bad spots from strawberries. Place strawberries in a large sauce pan with 1 cup of sugar. Mash with a potato masher until strawberries have released their juices and are in small pieces.
- Add in lemon juice, lemon zest and pectin. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly to avoid burning.
- Once boiling, add in remaining sugar. Allow the mixture to return to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute and remove from heat. Allow to sit a few minutes then remove any bubbles from the top.
- Remove sterilized Mason jars from the pot of water and place upright on a clean kitchen towel. Never touch the inside of the sterilized jars.
- Using a large mouth funnel, funnel jam into sterilized Mason jars leaving ¼ inch headspace (space between the top of the jam and the top of the jar). Use a small spatula to remove any air bubbles from the side of the jar by moving it around in the jar.
- Using a clean damp paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars to ensure there is nothing to get in the way of the seal. Place lid and ring onto jars and tighten to fingertip tight (just as tight as you can get using only your fingertips, not forcing it closed).
- Add jam to pot of boiling water and process for 10 minutes from when boiling starts.
- Remove jars and place on a clean kitchen towel out of direct sunlight. Do not disturb for 24 hours. You will hear a popping sound when the seal sucks in to the jar to create an airtight seal. After 24 hours, if any of the jar lids “pop” when touch they have not sealed properly and need to be put into the refrigerator.
Store for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place.