Learning about canning and preserving can seem overwhelming at first, but after a little research and practice, you’ll realize that there’s nothing to it. Knowing how to can, just like our ancestors, is a useful skill to have and can result in having delicious fruit jams throughout the entire year.
Good, organic jams can be hard to come by in some places, and when you can come by it, it’s often quite expensive. Jam is a delicious way to add a splash of color and flavor to any dessert, cheese, or meat meal that you can think of, and it’s super easy to make, too.
Making jam is one thing. Canning and preserving jam is another, but read on and you’ll see just how simple both of these things really are.
Making a Fruit Jam With Pectin
You can make jams with basically any fruit in the world. Just recently I came across a jar of apple cinnamon jam and I thought, “How can you possibly make jam out of apples?” Well, I bought it and rushed home to try it and it was like eating jellified apple sauce! It was so sweet and flavorful and made me realize that there are so many flavor combinations that would make great jams.
Pectin is an amazingly easy ingredient to use that will help your jelly set, and it’s all-natural! Pectin can be found naturally and is even in apple peels, so don’t feel like you aren’t being a real jam-maker if you use pectin just because your grandma didn’t use it. Trust me, if she could have used pectin, she would have! You can make jam without pectin, but the setting process will take much longer.
The following recipe will work for any fruit that you want to use, however the way you have to prepare these fruits may be slightly different.
You Will Need:
- 2 cups of your fruit of choice (you can mix different fruits together, too)
- ½ tbsp of pectin powder
- 1 cup of sugar (add more or less to taste)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (If you are using a sour fruit like cranberries or raspberries, don’t use as much, but the acidity will help with firming your jam)
Step 1 – Crush your fruit. Using a blender, masher, or food processor, mash your fruit. If you do not want chunks in your jam, strain the juice from the mashed fruit. Note: You would need at least 2 cups of fruit juice.
Step 2 – Pour into a pot. In a pot, pour your fruit and juice (or just juice), sugar, pectin, and lemon juice. You can also add in any spices or additional flavorings at this point.
Step 3 – Stir well and boil. While stirring every few seconds, let your mixture boil. Don’t forget to keep stirring! The jam should start becoming firm after about 12 minutes.
Step 4 – Take your jam off the heat. By now, a lot of foam will have formed at the surface of your jam. With a spoon or ladle, skim the foam off your jam. You can test to see how firm your jam is by seeing if it sticks to the spoon or ladle. If it doesn’t, you can add more pectin and boil the jam again.
The jam will become more firm as it cools down, so do not put in too much extra pectin right away.
Step 5 – Store your jam. Pour your jam into sterilized glass jars or containers. If you will be eating this jam right away, just store it in your fridge.
That’s it. Making jam is so easy, and it’s an impressive thing to do, too. Your friends and family will surely be surprised when you tell them that the jelly you’re putting in your peanut butter and jelly sandwich is homemade.
Now, if you want to be able to store your jam for up to one year without letting it grow mold or lose its flavor, you will need to know how to can and preserve your jam once it’s made.
How to Preserve Your Homemade Jam
Once your jam is made, it will last in your refrigerator for a few weeks, but you won’t be able to savor it all through the year that way. Here is a quick, beginner’s guide to canning and preserving.
You Will Need:
- Glass jars with air-tight lids
- A deep pot for boiling water
- Jar tongs
- A cake rack to put into your pot (or a dish towel)
Step 1 – Sanitize your jars and lids. To do this, place your jars (lids off) into a pot. Fill the pot with water so that the jars are completely covered, then bring the water to a boil. Don’t place your glass jars directly onto the surface of the pot, or else they may crack or shatter. Instead, put them on a cake rack inside the pot. (If you don’t have a cake rack that fits inside your pot, you can put a dishtowel on the bottom of your pot.)
Then, do the same thing with your lids. You can do this in a separate pot of boiling water, or do them after sanitizing the jars. You should keep the jars and lids in the boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Do this right before you will be pouring your jam into the jars.
Step 2 – Fill your jars. Pour your jam into your jars, making sure to leave about ½ – 1 inch of headroom per jar. You can use a funnel to make this process easier.
Step 3 – Twist on the lid. Put your lids on your jars tightly, but not too tightly. You still want any trapped air inside the jars to be able to get out. So, twist the lids on just until you can feel resistance.
Step 4 – Boil again. Now, put the filled jars back into your pot of water and bring to a boil. According to Martha Stewart, 10 minutes of boiling is good for a half-pint jar.
Step 5 – Test your seal. Take your jars out of the hot water and let them cool off for up to 24 hours. Make sure to not put the hot jars directly onto your counter, as the extreme difference in temperature can cause the jars to crack. Put them on a dishtowel.
After 24 hours, press down gently on the top of your jars and see whether there is enough pressure inside the jar for the top to not pop back up. If your lid does not pop up and down, it means that your seal is tight enough. Now you can tighten the lids a little bit more if you want to.
Step 6 – Store. You can store jams for about 1 year, give or take a few months. Make sure you check your jams every once in a while to make sure that they are not growing mold. If they do start growing mold, it means that your seal was not tight enough.
Store your jams in a cool, dark place.
And that’s it. Making jam is incredibly easy, and canning and storing it can be easy, too. Jams are a perfect way to add a special sweet kick to a meal, and they are also loved by all ages. There are all sorts of flavors of jams that you can discover, so get creative and have fun! Maybe you can even try to make your own apple cinnamon jam.