Oh the sounds of summer: kids playing, pools splashing, late night music, frogs croaking, crickets chirping and jars sealing. You gotta admit those are some good times…yep, I really said jars sealing. Growing up I spent many summer days and nights helping and watching my Mamaw can green beans, tomatoes, pickles, and jams. I grew accustomed to hearing those jars pop all night long as they were cooling off and sealing. That was the sound of sweet success!! Now that I’m grown with a family of my own, and my grandmother has long since left this world, I can’t wait for my first canning every year. To hear those familiar pops takes me back to my Mamaw’s kitchen. How I’d love for her to see me canning like she did.
Nowadays in our home, my babies get excited each time a jar pops. They know all our effort is paying off. I think they also know that the strawberry or blackberry jam is gonna be awesome for breakfasts and on their PB&J’s too! These moments are the ones I cherish, and I can only hope they will too.
If you’ve never canned before, in my opinion, jam or pickles are the easiest for getting started. I’m just gonna give a brief run down of the basics to canning strawberry jam from start to finish. For any of you out there who are kinda skittish about canning, or maybe think it’s too much trouble, I hope this brings clarity to any questions you may have.
First things first, wash and cut your strawberries. Try to have good, firm, ripe berries. You really don’t want bruised or over ripe fruit. (Canning rule of thumb is: high quality in = high quality, long-lasting canned goods.) Once you’ve washed and cut berries into halves or fourths, then you smash or crush them. I use my meat masher thingy from Pampered Chef to get them good and crushed.
From there you follow the recipe on the pectin box or container. I use Ball brand fruit pectin. It gives you exact measurements for your strawberries, pectin, and sugar. I’m pushing my recipe to the max (be careful when tripling or quadrupling jams/jellies) with 8 cups crushed berries, 8 TBSP pectin, and 9 cups sugar. Add strawberries and pectin first to the pot with 1Tbsp butter. Bring this mix to a full rolling boil. Once it can’t be stirred down, add all of your sugar to the pot. Bring this mix back to a full rolling boil. Let it boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
While all that’s going on, have your jars heating (sanitizing) in the water bath canner. You also need to have your rings and lids heating up in a smaller pan. This way once your jam is finished boiling, your jars and lids will be ready to go as well. Ok, rolling boil has done it’s minute, now your ready to jar and lid your jam. Simply ladle your mix into your jars, be sure to use a canning funnel. Fill each jar within a 1/2 inch from the top. Fill up all your jars, wipe the top edges of each jar to remove any loose jam, then top them with the hot lids and rings. Once all the jars are topped, use a canning lifter to place jars gently in the water bath canner. Put the top on the canner and wait for the boil to come back. When it begins to boil again (you’ll see steam coming out of the lid) that’s when you start your timer. For jam, processing (boiling) time is 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of processing, remove jars with jar lifters and place on a kitchen towel. Let them sit here to cool and seal. You’ll hear them within a few minutes start popping, which is the evidence of sealing. It’s a wonderful sound…I love it!
Let the sealed jars continue to cool overnight without moving if possible. You can eat immediately, but I generally recommends letting them cure for a week to ensure full setting and flavor. After all of your effort, you now have some amazing jam to last you throughout the year. Just a little added hint: homemade jams and jellies make great gifts.
Good luck…and happy canning!