Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Can Strawberry Jam (with Pomona's Pectin)

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Jam is one of the easiest foods to can.  It doesn't require a lot of prep.  The water bath timing is quick.  If you've never canned before, it's super easy to start with jam. 

Calcium water with Pomona's Universal Pectin
If you've been canning jam with MCP, Sure-Jell or Ball's Fruit-Jell (all readily available), I'd recommend trying Pomona's Universal Pectin.  It's a bit harder to find (our local health store carries does Amazon), but the product is phenominal.  It sets easily without the use of much sugar, using calcium instead. Using Pomona's recipe/pectin I made a double batch with 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  The jam actually tastes like fruit--not sugar.   For the same amount of berries, the Ball recipe required 7 cups of sugar!  YIKES! Another lasts forever.  And, if you'd rather use honey or sugar substitutes, Pomona's works with those too.

Before you begin, here is a list of what you'll need:
  • Approved canning recipe. You can't simply take your favorite family recipe and use it for canning. USDA approved recipes (found through extension service websites & publications or through updated cookbooks, like the Ball books) are what you need. To avoid botulism or other food-borne illnesses, following the recipes precisely is important. If you use different proportions, add or delete ingredients, your recipe may not be safe to can. But unless you completely understand the science behind the recipes, stick to them as written.
  • Water bath canner w/rack
  • Jar lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Magnetic lid lifter
  • Canning/mason jars. Again, no substitutes. You can't use pickle or mayo jars. You can use used canning jars (Kerr & Ball are common brands) but check for nicks and cracks.
  • Stock pots: Large and small
  • Canning lids (the flat pieces): These cannot be re-used.
  • Metal canning bands: These can be re-used, as long as they're in good condition (not rusted).
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • medium bowl
  • small bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • 4 cup measuring bowl
  • strainer
  • strawberry huller
  • Plastic knife
  • Potato masher  
  • 2-3 qt. pot
  • 2 qts. strawberries
  • Pomona's Universal Pectin
  • 3/4 - 2 C sugar*  (I use 3/4 cup)

Strawberry Jam

(Low Sugar or Honey recipe for Pomona's Universal Pectin)

Yield:  4 cups (can double or triple recipe)

Before starting, I like to highlight the recipe I'm using.  I've made mistakes before where I start off with one recipe, and accidentally finish with another.  To avoid this, the highlighter comes in handy.  If you're not as scatter-brained as I am, you can skip that step. 

1.  Wash and rinse jars; let stand in hot water.  Wash lids and rings; keep lids hot in a pan of hot water (not boiling).

2.  Fill up the water-bath canner** (about 2/3 full) with water, place the basket handles over the rim (so that it's ready to be filled), put the lid on, and start heating it up.

3.  Wash and hull strawberries.  Mash the berries and measure out 4 cups.  Pour into a pot.

4.  In the small bowl, make calcium water by adding 1/4 tsp. calcium powder (little packet in box) with 1/4 cup water.  Mix well before using. Leftovers can be stored for several months in the refrigerator.

5.  In a medium bowl, measure out the sugar* (3/4 - 2 cups...I use 3/4 cup) and mix in 2 tsp of Pomona's pectin powder (larger white packet from the box).  Mix well.

6.  Bring the strawberries to a boil.

7.  Add the pectin/sugar mixture and stir vigorously 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin.  Return to a boil and remove from the heat.

8.  Once the water in the canner is at a full boil, the jars and jam are hot, you are ready to start filling the jars. I take one jar at a time out of the pots (dumping the contained water in the sink) and place it on a towel next to my pot of jam. I place the funnel on the jar and immediately fill with jam, stopping 1/2" from the top.

9.  Using a plastic (not can damage the jars) knife, poke it along the sides of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Re-fill a bit if necessary. Take a small piece of the paper towel, wipe the rim. Using the magnetic wand, get a lid out of the pot and place it on your jar. Hand-tighten a metal ring around the top, and it's ready for the canner.

I like to quickly prepare two jars at a time, and add them to the canner simultaneously. As the jars are added to the canning basket, it's important to keep it balanced, or the jars will topple over.

Keep preparing jars two at a time, and add them until the canner is full. Carefully lower the basket. When the canner is full, make sure you have a couple inches of water over the jars. If you don't, add more water. Bring the water to a full boil, replace the lid, and set your timer for 5 minutes.***  Remove the canner lid, and remove your jars, placing them on a counter/table lined with a towel. Do not place on a wooden table or your table will end up looking like this:

Repeat until all the jars have been processed.

Leave the jars untouched for 24 hours. After that time, you can take off the band (some keep it on) clean the bottles, label the top, and place in your pantry.

Once opened, the jam will last about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. 

* Instead of sugar you can also use 1/2 -1 cup honey.
** I used to can on my stove top. The benefit to that is that it's faster, as everything is close by. The drawbacks are that 1) it's stove has a ton of dried on steam that turns brownish black and is a pain in the rear to clean, 2) the stovetop is crowded, and 3) it heats up the house. Instead, I get out our Camp Chef stove. Brian bought this for brewing, but I borrow it for canning.
***Add 1 minute of time for every 1000 feet above sea level.
From this:

To this:

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