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How to Make Jam

If you have never made jam before but have always wondered how, then this post is for you!  Or, if your daughter is currently obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and you want to seem like a hero, then go buy some fruit.

I am blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law who has taught me many things. How to can my own jam is one of them. I thought I would share what she has taught me, in case you want to give it a whirl.

Today at Whole Foods they had a special, one-day blueberry sale where they were selling 12 pints of organic blueberries for $19. That’s a really good deal! So today when Grammy took Jenna(2.5) to the beach, I made my family’s favorite low-sugar jam. My recipe includes:

  • 4 cups berries
  • 3 T low sugar Ball pectin
  • 3 t lemon juice
  • 1 cup apple or white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

1) First you have to make sure that your kitchen is brand-spanking clean. Use disinfectant and bleach out the sink, just in case. Then wash your canning jars and bands on the absolute hottest setting your dishwasher has to offer. Some people sterilize their jars in boiling water, but Grammy said that the dishwasher will work too.

2) Next prepare your berries. You need 4 cups of fruit, gently mashed. You can’t use a food processor or blender, because this will completely ruin everything, and your jam won’t jell right. With blueberries I usually don’t mash them because my family likes jam a bit chunky.

3) You also need to prepare your work station. Once everything is boiling, you don’t want to have to hunt down sugar. I use brand new canning lids every time, but I reuse jars and bands. I keep the lids in warm water, so they are ready to go.

I have an actual, water bath canner (shown on the left), but you don’t need one of those. An extra-large soup kettle will work too. That’s what I used for my first few years of canning. On the right is a small pasta pot used to make jam. I only cook one batch at a time, because otherwise the pectin jelling process can get screwed up.

4) Bring 4 cups berries, 3 T low sugar pectin, 1 cup juice and your lemon juice (if using) to a boil. Stir constantly.

5) Once you have a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, add your sugar. Continuing stirring and let boil for one minute. I usually let this boil for two minutes just be safe.

6) Fill your jars up to about 1/2 an inch at the top. Wipe the rims with a clean paper towel. Do you see the “gimpy” jar on the bottom left? That one is not going to be canned. Safety first!

7) Put on the lids and screw on the bands. You might hear some popping sounds, and that’s normal. It’s okay if you don’t hear anything though.

8 ) Put your jars in your kettle and cover with a lid. Let the water heat up until it is boiling.

9) Boil for ten minutes with the lid on. I usually let it go a little bit longer, just to be safe. It is okay to hear the gentle clinking of glass. Canning jars are really strong, and I have never had one break. But if it is sounding totally crazy in there, turn down the heat a little bit. This is called “the water bath method”.

10) Take the lid off and leave the jars in there for about 15 minutes.

11) Take your jars out and put them in a safe place. They need to stay there and rest for at least 24 hours. Once again, you might hear some popping sounds but that’s normal. The heat pulls the seal in and you hear a “pop”.

This type of jam is shelf-stable for up to a year, but be sure to refrigerate after opening. It makes great teacher gifts, especially if you add a gift card with it! 🙂

P.S. More information about home canning can be found here.

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