|My yummy homemade stuff is on the left. On the right, with less color (and flavor!) is Smuckers.|
*water bath canner w/basket *jar gripper *mason jars *lids *jar bands *wide mouth funnel *5 c. crushed strawberries * 1 box pectin * 7 c. sugar (exactly measured)
The first step in canning is getting your canner boiling. You're going to be bringing several gallons of water to boil. This takes a long time, so get the heat going as soon as you can. I'm not quite sure how much water I used. I filled it up to a line around 2/3 of the way up. Put the lid on and crank up the heat!
Prep is SO important when canning. You need a clean kitchen, equipment and jars. Now, I don't mean that your jars have to be sterile. The water bath in the canner is going to kill all the germs. Wash all your jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and set aside to dry.
After you've prepped all your jars, turn to prepping the fruit. Make sure your fruit is ripe and fresh. The quality of your berries determines the quality of your jam. Wash about 8 cups worth.
I like to set up a little station of fruit prep. A bowl for hulls and any bad berries and a bowl for the capped ones.
I cut each berry in half.
I ended up with 5 c. of crushed berries.
Make sure you have good pectin too. I have found Sure-Jell is the best.
Here's where we get cooking! Pour your crushed berries into a large pot. Bring to a full, rolling boil...one that doesn't stop when stirred. Add the pectin at that point. I also like to add a 1/2 t. of butter. That itty bitty amount of fat keeps the jam from making too much foam as it cooks.
Bring to another roiling boil and add the 7 c. of sugar. It will seem like the sugar clumps up, but the cooking will dissolve all of it.
|Full rolling boil|
|Adding the sugar...keep stirring!|
|All the sugar has dissolved and it's coming to a boil. Keep on stirring!|
Next, fill your jars. Place the wide mouth funnel in one jar.
Then fill the jar with the hot jam. I like to use a soup ladle to fill the jars. Don't go all the way to the top of the jar, leave about a 1/4" of space. This is called head room and it is there so that when the jars are processed, the air is sucked out in the water bath leaving a vacuum in the space at the top of the jar. That way no wee beasties grow in your jam and make you sick later! Place the lid on the top of the jar and then screw the jar bands on.
|An example of head room with just the lid. This is probably a little more head room than is needed.|