Canning has made a big comeback in recent years. For good reason— it’s a fun, easy, and economical family or group activity that even offers some kitchen science, as you watch the mixture transform from liquid to gel. Canning is productive too, and you can’t help but feel good when you see the bumper crop of jars filled with jewel- colored jam or other goodies that you’ll be able to give as gifts or eat all year long.
Anna started making jam with me the summer she was three years old. We had a favorite blueberry farm, about an hour from our house, and we began to travel there each summer during the extremely short (about two- week) blueberry season, to collect ripe berries and sit at a small counter to enjoy the freshest blueberry ice cream imaginable. If you are fortunate to have berries available, now is the time to make jam. Versions of this recipe can be made with many fruits. Consult pectin packaging or canning books or sites for recipe proportions.
You can make excellent jam from most fruits and berries. Because Michael is from Pennsylvania blueberry country, I absorbed his love of blueberry jam, which can be phenomenal and offers a strong taste of sunny summer in the depths of midwinter when you spread just a little on toast. Raspberry jam is wonderful to use in holiday cookies and tarts. Peaches and apricots are also
fun to work with and make excellent jams and chutneys. The jam we turn to most often, though, is the rich, complicated, and flavorful triple- berry jam.
• Canning jars, half-pint size preferable (available in supermarkets
and hardware and drugstores—you shouldn’t use
old household jars, as they might be scratched)
• New canning lids and new or used bands
• Wide- mouth funnel and jar lifter (available at many
hardware and drugstores)
• Ladle and tongs
• Pot holders, dish towels or cloths, and sponge
• Mixing bowls
• Wooden spoons
• Heavy- bottomed pot for cooking
• Very large pot or canner that includes an inch of water
above the jars and plenty of room for the water to boil, and
a jar rack or cake- cooling rack
• 5 cups strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (3
pints strawberries, 1 1/2 pints raspberries, and 1 pint
blackberries) at peak ripeness, chopped (with knife or food
processor, see below)
• 7 cups sugar
• 1 box dry pectin
Wash the jars, bands, and lids in soapy water.
Place the bands and lids in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes, without boiling. Turn off heat and leave them in the hot water until ready to use.
Place rack into the pot and place jars on the rack (to prevent them from breaking in the pot). Fill the pot with water to an inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil and keep the jars in a rolling-boil bath for ten minutes. After that, they sit until ready to be used.
Chop the berries by hand or in a food processor. If using a processor, pulse the berries in small batches so you end up with fruit bits rather than a puree.
Measure sugar into mixing bowl.
Add berries and pectin to the heavy-bottomed pot and mix.
Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Quickly add sugar and continue to stir. Return to a full rolling boil. Then boil, stirring, for one minute.
Remove from the heat and skim off any foam with a ladle.
Remove the jars from their bath with tongs and a pot holder, and place them upright on a dish towel. Ladle the jam mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4″of air, or headspace. Wipe the rims and threads with a wet cloth. Top with lids and screw on the bands.
Place the jam-filled jars back into the canning pot, and boil again for ten minutes to process, or additionally sterilize, them.
With certain vegetables and meats, the sterilization process is especially crucial to prevent food poisoning. Although the trend has moved away from the necessity of processing most fruit
jams, and just leaving them standing when filled, I still like to boil them a second time, the old-fashioned way.
Let filled and processed jars stand for approximately 24 hours at room temperature. Do not retighten the bands.
You know you have a good seal when you push on the lid and it doesn’t pop back. If the seal is not good, the jam can be stored in the refrigerator for three weeks. Otherwise, it can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two years.
Label with the date and type of jam, particularly if you plan to make more.
Yield: Approximately 5 half pints.
Note: It’s important to understand and follow food canning safety guidelines.
Another Note: Thank you Joyce for writing about Fed Up with Frenzy on Baby Center! And thank you for your reminder about low-sugar jam. I do feature low-sugar alternatives in my book. Here is an excerpt:
There are lots of ways to make jam with reduced or alternative sugar. One way is to cut out the pectin, reduce sugar by about 1/3, and boil the jam for 10-15 minutes until it reaches the jell point on its own. Another is to use a low-methoxyl pectin, such as Pomona’s, available at natural food stores. Jam made this way tastes terrific. This recipe makes berry jam.
• 4 cups mashed berries
• ¼ cups lemon juice
• ½ – 1 cups. honey OR
• ¼ – 2 cup sugar
Low methoxyl pectin and calcium water, per package instructions.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman
Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman.
Other posts by Suz you might like:
The Bond of Blueberry Jam, Motherlode blog