Jam is one of the easiest ways to start canning at home. It is essentially fool proof, and near impossible to mess up. If you are wanting to start canning and preserving at home I highly recommend starting with Jam.
One of my favorite things to can outside of pickles, is Jam and Jelly. You can take any fruit and make either Jam or Jelly with very few tools and have something you have made yourself, and know exactly what is in it. Since raspberries have, for whatever reason, been growing like crazy around central Alberta this year, it was time to stock up on my raspberry jam. If you are really wanting to delve into the preserving world, I highly recommend getting this book for a starting point. I have two copies, and it is the Bible of home preserving. There are many tips, safety precautions, and how to start.
I have been canning for a number of years, I don’t remember ever not canning in the fall. My mom and dad would process peaches, pears, cherries, jams, jellies, pickles etc. etc. I have very clear memories of a steam filled kitchen, buckets of produce everywhere, and hours of work, and tables and counters full of canned fruits and vegetables ready to fill the cold cellar. I loved it. When I first started canning on my own, my mother gifted me with a starter set. It had everything I would need to start canning minus the jars. I love pint size jars for jams, jellies and antipasto; they are the perfect size for gifting as well. For fruits and pickles I use quart jars.
Today I will take you through the basic steps for making raspberry jam.
Although my method includes a water bath for my jam, it is not necessary; but I am a freak when it comes to words like botulism and bacteria so I always water bath my fruits and veggies. If you feel comfortable with your temperatures, you go ahead and choose what you would like, but I will always recommend water bath for the final step.
List of supplies:
Redpath quickset sugar (homehardware or peavey mart)
Jars, screwtop, and snap lids (one bag of quickset you will need approx 7-8 pint size jars)
First off, prep!
Make sure you clean and sort through your berries, you only want the best of the best going into your jam! You can always freeze what is not good enough for processing. No bumps, bruises or squished.
While you are sorting you berries, you need to sterilize your jars (remember botulism?!) Place clean jars in your oven at 275 F for at least 15 mintes. I just let them sit in there until I am ready to fill the jars. You will want to boil sterilize your snap lids and any tools in a pot of water, just keep at a gentle boil for around 15 minutes as well.
Depending on your recipe, the amount of mashed fruit varies. When using Redpath Quickset, you need 3- 3 1/2 cups mashed fruit per bag.
You add your fruit, bag of quickset, and lemon juice to your stock pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. While this is cooking, fill your canner about halfway with water, cover and bring to boil. You want to have an inch of water covering your jars, so it is always easier to put more water in than needed, as opposed to adding water and waiting for it to come to a boil later on.
As your jam boils, it becomes frothy on top. Do not panic! This is how it should be. Once you remove from heat you are going to skim off all this froth with a metal spoon so you have nice clear jam.
See all that bubbly stuff? That’s what you are skimming off. Sometimes there is alot to skim, and sometimes not so much, but you want to get as much as you can off.
Time to can!
Remove your jars from the oven. Remember – they’re HOT! Try not to touch the top lip, just the sides of the jars. Line them up so they are easily filled from the pot of liquid.
Top left – pot that has lids, funnel
Center top – pot of jam
Jars lined up ready to be filled.
Use your funnel and scoop gently; to fill jars leaving about one inch head space at the top. Trust me, more space is better than less or your jars will explode and that is not fun to clean up. AT ALL. When your jars are filled, you will want to take a clean damp cloth and wipe all your edges of the jars. You want a clean surface for the snap lids to adhere to. Any residue will not allow a proper seal and your jar will be contaminated (again…bacteria) Gross. Now you will take your magnet stick and grab each lid individually and place on jar and screw finger tight. It needs to be tight enough that the boiling water won’t loosen the lid, but too tight and you could end up blowing your jar up. Think Goldilocks, you want it juuuuuust right.
At this point, you can just leave your jars and listen for the “pop!” the snap lids will make. If they don’t pop, you have to water bath anyways, so I just water bath them all and save the hassle and worry. Now, for central Alberta the water bath is for 20 minutes at rolling boil. Time depends on your altitude. This is where the canning book comes in handy as it helps you figure it out. Line the jars around the drop tray, do not over pack, and drop into water. Cover and set timer.
When you remove the jars from the water bath you are going to again listen for the POP, this lets you know they have been properly sealed. I am not going to lie, this is almost the most satisfying sound ever! Every time I hear a jar pop I get a little giddy! (I know, I know; I’m a nerd) Now, do not fret if all your jars do not pop. I give them a half hour or so, and if they still have not popped, make sure the lid is sitting finger tight, and re-process in a water bath. The other option is just to refrigerate and use within the month.
There you have it! Store them in a cool dry place, and you will have fresh jam at your fingertips for months to come!
Snippets of my cold room ready to be re-stocked!
Stay tuned for my apple jelly recipe!