Friends, have you ever rushed through something just to get it done, then later wished you had spent juuust a few more minutes on it? I sometimes have a patience problem (don’t we all?), and that is exactly what happened the first time I tried to make jam.
Homemade anything takes a little patience. And if you’re not up for that, just go buy it at the store, right? I’ve only made jam a few times, but I have tried a different recipe every time. I’ve found that the longer you cook it, the better it gets. But when you’re standing over a hot stove, *five. more. minutes.* takes forever.
The recipe in today’s post took a few test runs. But once I got the timing down, the results were totally worth the time! Delicious, sweet, jiggly jam takes more than a few minutes. Let’s get started!
Quick disclaimer: I fused a couple different recipes together for this one. I took Canning 101 from The Pioneer Woman, ingredient ratios from this recipe at Intimate Weddings, and some other tips from the packet in the pectin box. This mashup recipe worked great for me, but if you want to explore jam-making, these sites have excellent options!
Okay. I mean it this time: let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- about 4.5-5 lbs. strawberries
- 6 C sugar
- 1/4 C lemon juice
- 1 box of powdered pectin (NOT the low-sugar kind. It matters!)
- canning jars (size is up to you; I used 250ml)
- wide-mouth funnel
We’ll start by prepping our jars. They need washed and then sanitized. You can do this a variety of ways, including using the dishwasher, baking them, or washing them in the sink, then doing a hot water bath.
The method I love the most is washing them in hot soapy water in the sink, air drying them, then baking the jars. To do this, heat your oven to 215 degrees. Put your jars and lids on a baking sheet and let them heat up until you’re ready to use them. This does 2 things: sanitizes the jars to free them of bacteria that could spoil your jam, and it heats the glass to a similar temperature as the boiling jam. If the jars were cold when you put the jam in, there’s a chance the glass could break. Yikes.
Now for the jam: Wash and hull your strawberries. I found a fancy little trick online to make this easier.
Using a hard plastic straw, push up through the center of the berry and pop off the top. Works like a charm! 🙂
Now that all your berries are hulled and in a large pot, start crushing them with a potato masher. (This is harder than it looks. Or maybe I just need to hit the gym..)
Begin to cook the berries over medium-high heat while adding the sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. Some recipes (especially old-fashioned ones) will tell you to put the sugar, juice, and pectin in at certain times during the cooking process, but in my experience it works the same if you just mix it all in there at once.
Bring the jam to a strong boil – one that doesn’t calm down when stirred. Boil like this for about 2-3 minutes, then bring the temperature down to medium.
Let the jam boil lightly for 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly and pausing to skim the foam off occasionally. Keep the foam in a bowl and save it – trust me, it will be useful! I’ll tell you how later. This is the hard part, guys. You’re standing there over a steaming pot and a hot stove, stirringstirringstirring your arms off and it seems like it takes for.ev.er.
But stay with me here, because it’s going to taste amazing really soon!
Periodically, spoon some jam onto a clean plate and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Tilt the plate to test its thickness. If it runs like syrup, it’s not ready. Just keep stirring, sister. Keep doing this until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
Now that you’re finally there at that perfect thickness, it’s time to fill our jars.
Remove your prepared jars from the oven, and get them lined up so that you can move quickly. Using the wide-mouthed funnel and a ladle, spoon the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Put the lids on and tighten the screw bands until you just get some resistance. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve read that tightening them further will hinder the preserving process. I’d rather not take chances on this beautiful jam!
Now cover the filled jars with a dishcloth, and leave them alone for 24 hours. Within a few hours, you should hear the lovely popping of the lids sealing. Ahh, I love that sound.
Finally, it’s time to figure out what to do with that foam you skimmed off the boiling jam. You should notice that in the bowl you put the skim in, the foam has floated to the top and separated from the remaining strawberry syrup. Remove the foam from the top with a spoon, then put the syrup in a container.
This syrup is sugary sweet and tastes like summer strawberries. Add it to lemonade for a sweet drink, add alcohol of your choice for something a little more fun ;), or use the syrup as an ice-cream topper. However you use it, don’t waste it because that stuff is gold!
You did it! Congrats on making a delicious, sugary spread. I like to put mine on english muffins, which I’m out of right now 😦 How do you like to enjoy jam? Let’s chat in the comments!