Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to Make Homemade Strawberry Jam

There is nothing sweeter than homemade Strawberry Jam! It is worth the effort! I learned from a good friend years ago and I have never gone back to the store brands. The best advice I can give is to prepare everything before you start. Which is as follows:
  • Sterilize your jars, rims and lids. I put mine on the "Sanitize" mode in the dishwasher. This takes a while and gets your jars good and hot, so plan according to your time setting.
  • For Jam, I like to use Wide Mouth Pint jars.  Smaller jars are great in gift baskets too.  But I only  like the Wide Mouth jars in any case because there is less mess in the filling process.
  • Place foil in between your burners on your cook top.  You are about to make a sticky gooey mess!
  • Have moistened paper towels at the ready!
  • Prepare a place for your jars to rest.  An old table, piece of plywood, piece of counter top etc.  Someplace where the heat and sweat from the jar will not damage.
  • You will also need a spoon to stir, a spatula to skim and a bowl for the skimmed foam.
  • In this picture, you can see that I have my "Lid" pan on the back right burner. This is kept on simmer to keep the rubber seals ready. I also have my roaster full of rims on low heat next to my stove top. And then the rickety-rackety cake pan across the left two burners on low also. I place my sterilized jars here to keep warm and ready for filling.
  • Other tools in the photo: On the cutting board you will see several tools. A jar grabber (I don't always use mine, a kitchen towel and your hands work fine for this. But you will want one later for hot water baths and pressure canning.  Also, a funnel and a Lid/Rim "Gitter". It's the little green wand . Oh...everything is a "Gitter!" to me. You can call them whatchamacallits if you like. My "Gitter" has a magnet on the end to grab the things I need out of the hot water. It is a Must Have for canning purposes. You can find all of these trusty tools in your Canning aisle at most big box or Farm Aid stores like Farm and Fleet, etc.  If you are a first timer, you can get a kit, like this one:

Maybe you have a great recipe handed down to you, if so go ahead and use it.  My "handed down" recipe is in the Sure Jell box under Cooked Jams!  So get all the ingredients ready to roll also:
  • 5 C. chopped/mashed strawberries (if frozen, make sure you thaw)
  • 7 C. PURE CANE sugar
  • 1 Box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
Measure everything EXACT!  If you find you are a smidgen short on strawberries, you can add water or no sugar added strawberry juice (not the easiest to find) to get your full measure of fruit.

Let's get Jammin'!

**Have everything within arms reach! 
  • In your large sauce pot, combine the strawberries and Sure Jell.  Mix well.
  • Turn on the heat!  A Medium High to High heat will do.
  • STIR CONSTANTLY until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.  Full roiling boil means that it continues to boil when the spoon passes thru, like this:
  • Immediately dump in all of the sugar.
  • Continue to stir...never stop during this entire process!!
  • The mixture will have some sugar clumps...just keep stirring, they will dissolve!  It will then appear that it 'thinned' up a bit.  This is OK!
  • Bring mixture back to a full roiling boil.  It will start to rise up as well.  Be cautious of spill over.  If it starts to rise up too much, turn the heat down just a bit.
  • Keep it at a full rolling boil for EXACTLY ONE MINUTE.  One minute only or you will be eating concrete!
  • After exactly one minute at a full rolling boil, turn the burner OFF.
  • Skim any foam off the top with your spatula and into a small bowl.  Save it...Yes...I will even give a good recipe for this at the end!!
You are now ready to fill your jars and seal!

How to fill your jars:
  • Do Not touch the rims of your jars!  Remember, they are sterilized!
  • Place your canning funnel in the jar closest to you.
  • Ladle the jam into the jar up to the first line of the throat of the jar or @ 1 inch from top.
  • Remove funnel gently from jar and place it in the next jar for next fill.
  • If you slopped any of the jam on the rim of the jar, simply wipe it clean with a moist paper towel.  Do not leave any gunk on the rim of the jar as it may interfere with the seal.
  • Using your magnetic "Gitter", grab one lid from your simmering pot and place it on top of jar.  It's OK to touch the top of the lid, just steer clear of the underside.  It too is squeaky clean.
  • Again, use your magnet to get a rim from your simmering pot as well.  It's OK to handle these.
  • Twist the rim on tight but not uber tight.
  • Lift the filled jar out of the cake pan by the throat!  Do NOT pick it up from the rim/lid as you want it to seal!
  • Transport the jar to your designated holding area and allow space between each jar for airflow.
  • Now some folks will invert the jars for the first 3-5 minutes at this point to help the fruit disperse more evenly thru the jam.  Do what you like and whatever trips your trigger!
  • Repeat process until the jam is all used up.  If you have a bit left over, you can put it in a small bowl and use it for your toast the next morning or in my case...asap!
  • The jars will often "Pop!" when they seal...this is like music to your ears!
Note to the LOOKEY-LULU's:  Do not touch, move, poke, prod or heck - even look at them again for the next 12-24 hours!  So maybe I go overboard a little, but I am pretty passionate about my jars!  Leave'em alone!  Smack the hand of any one who goes near them!

After they sit all pretty-like for 12 to 24 hours, GENTLY test each jar with a light finger to ensure they sealed.  They should not bounce back at you, if they do, store in fridge.  If the jars sealed properly, you can move them to your pantry, open one up and gorge yourself or give them away to the little beggars in your family!  It is advised that you remove the rim for storage purposes.  This way they won't rust from water condensation.  Here is a shot of the gift jars we made for my Mother-In-Law...oops!  Did I just give away your stocking stuffers???

And what is left from our pantry after last year's canning season.  Notice all the rims are off!

Now, a little Foam Tid-bit!

Last year, a few friends and I went crazy making jam one day.  We had foam foam foam!  Rather than let it go to waste we thought "Why not try this?":

Prepare and bake your favorite white cake.  Cool.
Poke holes in the cake with the end of a wooden/bamboo spoon.
Cover the top of the cake with a fresh or thawed container of your sugared strawberries.
Then....here is the big finish....

Fold the foam and one container of whipped topping together and spread evenly on top of the cake.  Refrigerate.


  1. YUM!!!!!!! I can't wait to reap the benefits of your labor :)

  2. See readers...I said "little beggars"...now you know! :) There is more than enough to go around!