Hang on tight, all. It’s food preservation week here at Balance and Blueberries. Today’s edition: Jam.There are many, many reasons to make your own jam at home. For instance:
- Homemade jam is real food, people. I know that you may really like your jar of Smucker’s strawberry, but check out their ingredients list. The second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. The next is corn syrup. Not real food.
- Can you say “cost effective”? Especially if you have the jars already, the cost per jar of homemade jam is much lower than purchasing it in the store. Even with the purchase of a flat of jars, preserving your own jam is much cheaper in the long run.
- Did I mention that it’s real food? Local food. Organic, if you want.
On the way back from the Wine Festival this weekend, Darcy and I stopped by the side of the road to pick some elderberries. Don’t know what an elderberry is? Check out last year’s elderberry expedition.
It turns out that the picking is the fun part. To pick enough elderberries for jam takes approximately 10 minutes. To get the same amount of berries off their stems takes approximately 2 hours. So there I stood at the kitchen counter, stemming elderberries. For 2 hours. Attempting to have a good attitude. (See all the elderberries on the pan? That’s the un-stemmed stack)
I digress. In order to make jam, you will need:
- Fruit (check!)
- Pectin (in the aisle with the canning jars)
- Sugar (lots of sugar)
Are you ready?
First, get your fruit all ready to go. This means that you have to wash or peel or stem or chop the fruit that you are going to use.
Second, set a large pot of water to boil. You will need to sanitize the jars you are using by boiling them for 10 minutes. In another pot, boil the lids and the rings to sanitize them.
Third, open your package of pectin. If you don’t have a recipe, there will be directions in there for the different kinds of fruit jams you can make. Locate the proper directions, and follow them. Each pectin brand may have slightly different recipes. Be sure to follow the recipe that your brand provides. Because this is true, I’m not going to bore you with the recipe for my particular batch of jam. If you want some ideas, check out Ball Canning Recipes and pickyourown.org.
Fourth, once you have prepared your jam by the directions in the pectin box or a canning recipe and you have sanitized jars, fill them. Wipe the rim, put a lid and a ring on each jar, and flip the jars over.
Lastly, do your dishes. After about 5 minutes, flip your jars right side up. Don’t touch the lids for at least an hour. They need time to seal. After they’ve all sealed, remove the rings and wipe the jars off. If one or two don’t seal, put them in the fridge to eat first.