Home Canning is Cool Again! | Ideas and Supplies for Making Jam

Every other day, it seems, a new study comes out saying that something or other is bad for your health. In reaction, many in pursuit of the healthiest lifestyle possible have picked up canning. Let’s take a look at how to make and can a simple jam to get you started on this retro-now-cool practice.

Photo Credit by mlcastle on Flickr

Gather Your Canning Supplies
For a batch of eight 8-oz. jars, you will need:

  • 8 cups of an organic, in-season fruit. In October, excellent options for jam include apples, blackberries and grapes. We’ll use blackberries as an example.
  • Pectin
  • Jar funnel
  • Sugar, honey or agave; amount dependent on the pectin used
  • 20-quart pot
  • Canner
  • Jars, lids and rings
  • Ladle
  •  Jar grabber

Sanitize Your Jars
You can wash the jars in your dishwasher on the sanitize cycle before you get started, leaving them on heated dry, or you can wash them in hot soapy water, rinse, then boil for 10 minutes. Place the lids in not-quite-boiling water for five minutes. Keep the cans and lids heated while you work.

Photo Credit by LeLand Paul on Flickr

Make Your Jam
Wash your blackberries and pick out any stems or leaves. Mash the berries, leaving behind some large pieces.

Measure out the recommended amount of sugar in two batches: one mixed with the pectin, the other not. The actual amounts vary by pectin used and will be noted on the box.

Pour the pectin/sugar batch into your pot and bring to a full boil, stirring as you wait. Once boiling, add the remaining sugar. Bring it back to a boil, boil for one minute, then remove from heat and use your ladle to skim any foam from the mixture.

(Right about now, start heating the water in the canner  — enough to completely cover the jars — to a boil.)

Test your jam for readiness by spooning into a metal spoon, then allowing it to cool. If not as thick as you would like, add a bit more pectin and boil again for one minute. Once it’s at the consistency you like, let stand for five minutes, then stir.

Fill Your Jars and Can
Add your blackberry jam to nearly the top of the jar, then add the lid and ring. Use the jar grabber to place the jars in the boiling water of the canner. Boil for five minutes, or longer if recommended by the pectin manufacturer, then remove the jars and allow to cool overnight.

You can test your seal by pressing down on the lid. If it pops back up, the seal did not set. Simply place in the fridge and eat right away. Otherwise, your newly canned jam will last up to a year in the pantry!

Give Your Jam and Other Canned Items Away
In addition to filling your pantry with canned-when-fresh fruits and pickled veggies, canned items make excellent and inexpensive gifts both year-round and during the holidays. You can even create fun labels to add a personal touch, such as “Canned With Love by the Johnson Family. Happy Holidays!” And if you do it now, when so many fruits and veggies are in season, you will have crossed several friends and family members off your holiday shopping list.

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