It’s that time of year—your kitchen garden and farmer’s markets are winding down for the season. Whether you’re new to canning or an old hand at preserving your garden’s bounty, you can capture the freshest flavors for your family’s enjoyment throughout the year. Make a delicious strawberry jam and learn the easy waterbath preserving process. But first, get started with the right equipment.
Mason jars are designed to seal with two-piece metal closures and to withstand the temperatures and reuse associated with fresh preserving. True mason jars also conform to specific shapes and capacities compatible with heat processing methods and times. If you’re starting with brand-new jars, remove their lids and rings. If using older jars, check the rims to make sure there are no chips or cracks.
New flat lids are a must for every canning season. Made from a flat metal disc with a flanged edge lined with sealing compound, lids are used in combination with metal screw bands for vacuum-sealing preserving jars.
The sealing compound comes in contact with the lip of the jar and forms a seal when the jar cools after processing. Used lids should be thrown away.
The screw band holds the lid in place during processing. The bands are reusable if they are not bent, dented or rusted.
Use your fingers to screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Do not use a utensil or the full force of your hand to over-tighten bands.
Use a waterbath canner or a large saucepan deep enough to immerse jars in water by 1 to 2 inches and allow for the water to boil rapidly with the lid on. It requires a rack to lift jars off direct heat.
This tool allows you to lift jars from and lower jars into a boiling water canner.
A wide-mouth funnel allows for easy pouring of a food product into the jar.
The non-metallic utensil removes air bubbles trapped inside the jar and provides a handy edge for accurately measuring headspace.
Fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies and other fruit spreads, salsas, most tomatoes, pickles, relishes, chutneys, sauces, vinegars and condiments are among items safely preserved using the waterbath canning method. Because these common foods contain high amounts of acid or the recipe incorporates the correct balance of acid, waterbath canning is the recommended process.
Homemade strawberry jam is one of the easiest recipes for a beginner to make (and one of the tastiest!). Follow these steps to start your canning journey. Here’s what you need.
- 5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 6 tbsp Ball. RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
- 7 cups granulated sugar
Yield: 8 – 8 oz half-pints
Put the rack into the canning pot and put the jars on the rack. Fill the pot with water to cover jars and bring to a simmer until ready to use. Wash the lids in warm soapy water (While conventional wisdom directed us to put the lids in a small saucepan to simmer, years of research indicates that preheating Ball® and Kerr® lids is no longer necessary).
Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rim. Center the lid on the jar and a apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Don’t over-tighten. Return water in canner to a rolling boil. Place the filled jar in the canner and set your timer for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
When your timer goes off, remove the jars from the waterbath right away. Gently place them on a towel-lined countertop and let them cool for 24 hours. The jar lids should begin pinging soon after they’ve been removed from the pot. This is the sound of the seals forming; the center of the lids will become concave as the vacuum seal takes hold. After 24 hours, remove the bands and test the seals by trying to lift lids off with your fingertips. Remove rings and store your jars in a cool, dark place for up 18 months. Any jars with bad seals can still be used—just store them in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.
Try out this recipe, then make it your own as you discover new flavor twists on an old favorite.
For Vanilla Strawberry Jam, add half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, to the crushed strawberries. Cook as directed and remove vanilla bean before ladling jam into jars.
For Peppered Strawberry Jam, stir ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper into the cooked jam just before ladling it into the jars.
Delectable spreads made from jellied or preserved fruits are irresistible additions to breakfasts, teas, appetizers, and entrees. The burst of flavor added with a dollop of a sweet seasonal spread can make your meal more delicious and memorable.
If your preserves turn out a little runnier than you’d expected, don’t despair. The taste is still there and they make a great topping for cheesecake, yogurt or ice cream.
Create a simple yet elegant dessert with strawberry preserves in a stemmed dish. Place some jam in the dish, and alternate with cubes of pound or angel cake. Top with a drizzle of jam and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Garnish with a fresh berry or citrus slice.
© Caruth Studio