Friday, May 28, 2010

A Jam Session!

So not a lot exciting going on this week...just a lot of organizing, entering giveaways (I'll enter to win anything!), checking my garden, watching Real Housewives, etc.  So I'm going to blog about the one time I did get out of the house this week.

Yea I'm practically a quilt-making-face-pinching-red-lipstick-girdle-wearing-grandma but I love it.  So this week was the start of my canning plan for the summer.  One day I think it would be awesome to make most of the food we eat.  Now when I say most I mean maybe half.  I think I would have to grow my hair out and wear a ankle length skirt if I made more than that but how cool!  We would save TONS of money because we can preserve or grow a lot of the food we eat.  What a great stewardship of the earth God created.  But that is just a dream.  Right now I'm just growing a few things and dipping my toes in the water a bit.  I mean on my favorite money-saving blog, Faithful Provisions, the author makes her own yogurt!  I'm far from her status but one day ( I wrote that I pictured beam of light shining down from the sky while angels sang...I have a vivid imagination!).

**Side note** I need to learn to grow things organically.  We haven't put stuff on our veggies much this year and I'm using an organic insecticide and trying the soap and water mix method but I'm still having some bug issues.

So I made JAM!  Strawberry to be exact.  And I am going to teach you how...You don't HAVE TO HAVE anything special to do it other than jars.  Not even a shmancy, fancy water bath canner.
So gather your supplies...
  • Strawberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • A box of Pectin -- which is a ground carbohydrate used to make the juices gel.
  • Sugar -- don't try to skimp...follow the directions.
  • Lemon juice -- 4 tbsp for strawberry, inside the pectin box is a handout with directions for all types
  • Mason jars -- usually 4 or 8 oz jars for jellys, jams, and preserves
    • Make sure you wash them!  If your dishwasher has a sterilize cycle, use it!
  • New lids -- you never want to reuse a lid
  • Bands -- these can be recycled sometimes
  • A big pot, a handheld masher, a measuring cup
Now lets get started...
1. Strawberries...check!  Now wash them...don't want any animal or bug urine or excrement on them, now do we? No!
We had about 2 gallons and it made 3 batches (about 8-10 jars per batch depending on the size of the jars.)
2. Cut out the caps, any bad places, and any white tips (you know the part at the tip of the strawberry that may not have the red color...this won't mash well so just remove it now so you don't have to pick it out later.)
3.  Mash them using your handheld masher.  (This is so easy, huh?)
4.  Measure 5 cups exactly (depending on the recipe in your pectin box or recipe book) and pour in a big pot.  
5.  Add the lemon juice if called for.
6.  Stir in the box of pectin.
7.  Bring to a rolling boil. **DO NOT USE THE THERMOMETER like we did here.  We tried to follow a new recipe in the Sure-Jell box and HUGE backfire!  The thermometer busted and our first batch of jam had to be thrown out...sad.  So just go with your gut. 
8.  Pour in sugar (that was measured with the same cup that measured the mashed strawberries) and return to a rolling boil that can NOT be stirred down.
9.  Once you reach that crazy high boil, boil for 1-2 more minutes.
**Skim any excess foam.  (I don't really do this much but it says to.)
**You need to be stirring the WHOLE time its on the stove!
**Start heating your lids in some boiling water (in pan on the left).
**To avoid excessive foam add 1/2 tsp of butter to the mix.
10.  Get your jars set out and ready.  
11.  Fill your jars until they are about a cm from the top.  Its a judgement call really.  I'm usually a bit more conservative while my Mom is usually more liberal with it.
12.  Place your lid on top, holdly down firmly while you screw on the band.
13.  Flip jar over!  This is when you would use a water bath canner if you wanted but this time we just flipped them over for an hour or so and they sealed that way.  You can check them by flipping them back over and pressing on the center of the lid.  If it "pop", it is NOT sealed and needs to be flipped over again.  If it doesn't "pop", then its ready!  Yeah!  Now don't leave them sitting on their tops for too long because your jam will be sitting on the top of the jar when you finally set it upright and you will have a gap in the bottom of the jar.  So it will taste good but Martha wouldn't approve.

Now go out there and make your own jam!  Its easy and yummy.  And think... You can make whatever flavor you love and know what the ingredients are, and not have to buy any for over a year.  If you like PB&J then make the "J" yourself.  I myself think that's yuck but it you like it then save some money and preservatives this year by doing it yourself.

Now I'm sorry I went all Amish on you guys but I love making jam!  You guys are welcome to have some if you would like...just give my jars back!



  1. I cant believe you are a "canner"!! That is SO martha. :)

  2. i want some jam!!!! i love all your do it yourself moments. you inspire me...maybe someday when i have a yard...



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