It’s that time of year again folks! Here in the Southeast, spring is already in the air. The birds are singing, the air is getting warmer, days are getting longer, and new life emerging forth is omnipresent; all that means many different things to different people. However, if you are a fan of fresh berries, now is the time to start planting, in order to have a bountiful harvest. Berries purchased from your neighborhood grocer pale in comparison to their freshly picked counterparts. There is nothing quite like biting into a supple, richly colored berry that bursts with utter sweetness, at the peak of the season! It doesn’t seem fair that we should enjoy these pleasures only during one season. Why not take the opportunity to preserve those sweet, juicy flavors so they can be savored throughout the entire year? Canning is not a difficult task, as some people may think. If you can follow a recipe, measure ingredients, and have a little extra time on your hands, you are well on your way to preparing delicious homemade jellies, jams and preserves! The hardest part about making your own delectable jams and jellies is the anticipation of tasting the final product! There are two ways to can berries. You can use the “non-cook method” or the “cooked method.” This article discusses only the cooked method. By using this method, you are assured that everything is sterilized and all bacteria is killed. The “cooked method” also gives your delicious, fruity products a longer shelf life; they will retain their freshness for a whole year! Following is one of our favorite recipes, along with step by step procedures for preparation, in order to ensure you get a perfect product every time! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s jam!
- The first and most important thing you will need is a good, fool-proof recipe. This recipe is such, and can be used to make strawberry, blackberry, or raspberry jam.
Cooked Jam Recipe (Strawberry, Blackberry or Raspberry)
Yields 8- ½ pints
- 5 cups of your choice berry or a mixture of all three. (This means 5 cups, after you have washed and sliced them. Not 5 cups of whole berries.
- 7 cups of granulated sugar (Measure accurately into a separate bowl)
- ½ teaspoon of unsalted butter
- 1 package of powdered pectin
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar(Optional) If you add, it balances the sweetness very nicely, if you omit the jam will be very sweet
Utensils you will need:
- Paring Knife
- Sterilized jars, lids and bands
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Hand-held Potato Masher, Blender or Food processor
- Heavy Duty Rubber Gloves or Jar Grabber
- Wide Mouthed Funnel
- Place the jars in the canner and cover with water. Place on top of the stove, over high heat and heat to boiling. Reduce heat slightly, but keep simmering.
- Place berries in colander and wash. Let them drain. Slice off the tops and then hull the berries. Hulling is cutting down into the berry to cut out the white parts of the berries.
- Either place the berries in a large stockpot and mash with potato masher, or place in a blender or food processor and gently pulse to chop them up just a bit. If you prefer smaller bits of berries in your jam, pulse them more. When berries are to correct consistency, pour into a heavy stockpot.
- Add the pectin, butter, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice to the stockpot with the berries. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar all at once, stirring constantly. Turn stove unit on high. Stir continuously and bring back to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat, stir and skim to remove foam for 5 minutes.
- Using jar grabber or heavy-duty rubber gloves, remove the jars from simmering water. Sit them on a level surface, lined with kitchen towels. Turn heat back up to high on canner to bring water back to boiling.
- One at a time, place wide-mouthed funnel into jar and ladle hot fruit mixture into jars, leaving a ¼ “ headspace at the top of each jar.
- With a clean damp cloth, wipe the rim of each jar clean. Place lids on jars and tighten to finger tight.
- Place jars back into boiling water canner, and process for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and remove jars from canner.
- Sit jars of jam on kitchen towel-lined countertop. Allow to cool to the touch and turn jars upside down. Allow to cool 20 minutes more and then turn back upright. This helps to distribute the fruit evenly.
- When jars are completely cool, label and store or open a jar and enjoy some right away.
That’s all there is to it! Enjoy!