Well, I officially feel like a grown up. I made jam all by myself without my Mom and I may have just crossed over into adulthood, finally! I will admit that I had the utmost confidence in myself until I got everything started and realized I had no idea what the heck I was doing! However, after one panicked phone call to my Mother (who did not answer I might add), I pulled myself together and got on through.
It took 3 hours of literally slaving over a hot stove, on a 28 degree day, to create 15 jars of lovely organic strawberry jam, but it was oh so worth it.
I was prompted to set off on this journey by the mass amount of strawberries that I picked from our garden, I mean what else does one do with 5 large freezer bags of berries?
Here is what I did if anyone else feels so inclined to grow up like me!
After weeks of our family all picking the strawberries, we had about 5 freezer bags full of yummy, organic strawberries. The best part about home grown strawberries is that besides being super sweet and juicy, they don't have the hard, white centre to them that store bought ones do. They are red throughout and the little green tops practically slide right off, easy peasy for prep!
I wanted to make organic jam, so I used organic cane sugar and bought a package of Pomonas Pectin. To be honest, I'm not sure its officially organic, but can pectin even be organic?
Anyways, it uses a whole lot less sugar than regular brands and is well worth the extra $2.00 it cost me.
I basically just followed the instructions on the inside of this box. I had to re-read them about 10 times, and after adjusting my pots and burners about the same amount of times, I had a good system.
I remember making jam with my Mom and it was a little different from this process, hence the panicked phone call!
First I cooked up all my berries with a mix that you create from one of two packages in the pectin box. I also added 2 cups or organic sugar, which is way less than regular pectin's call for. I got about 24 cups of jam from this, so the sugar content is actually quite low!
It took about 15-20 minutes of cooking and mashing to get them all soft enough and boiling away.
Meanwhile I had two other pots on the go. One smaller one of boiling water for all the lids and rings, and my largest pot for boiling the jars.
I pre-boiled all the jars before hand and then placed them back in the boiling water right before filling with the jam. One thing I did remember is that when making jam its very important that everything is super sterile and clean, otherwise they may not seal.
I had my metal tongs all sterilized as well as my measuring cup for pouring the jam into the jars, and everything was all laid out on a clean cloth, ready to go. Being organized certainly is important when making jam, as the process involves what seems like a million steps!
Once the strawberries were cooked, and all the jars, lids and utensils were ready to go, I added the pectin (the other package in the box) to the strawberries and cooked for another 2 minutes or so. Then I added the jam to the jars, gave the tops a quick wipe with a cloth that was dipped in the boiling water and placed the lids and rings on.
Once all the jam from the pot was in the jars, the jars needed to go back into the boiling water for 10 minutes. Now here is one thing that I don't remember from jam making before. The jars were supposed to be submersed with an inch of water on top to help with the seal. I however, being the amateur jam maker I am, did not have a deep canning pot! So I did the best I could and spooned the boiling water on the tops of the jars that were to tall to go under the water.
I then used my slippery tongs to wrestle the jars back out the boiling water, and after a few burns and perhaps a couple of mumbled bad words, I had all the jars out! Next time I will be sure to get the special tongs used for getting jars out of water, what a novel idea!!
After looking at my jars with a sigh, I got started on batch #2! Although, the second time went a little quicker :) The end result was lovely, the jam was a beautiful red colour and tasted just like strawberries out of the garden, yum!
I certainly will set out on another canning adventure, but for now I will sit back and enjoy my toast with jam every morning, I certainly have enough of it to last me awhile!