Strawberry or Peach Jam

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Yes We Can! Making Strawberry or Peach Jam[edit]

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My wife and I have really gotten into doing our own canned and preserved foods this year, and it's been a lot of fun.

So I thought I'd show some examples of how to do 2 simple canning projects that don't take too much prior knowledge to do easily. But please, add your own pictures and projects here and we can make this a nice compendium of canning and preserving stuff! But, we'll start simple.

  • Strawberry Jam
  • Peach Jam

(These jams are made with powdered pectin, but you could make your own pectin without too much hassle.)

Before you start, you will need some equipment.

Equipment[edit]

Jars:

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  • Mason jars of the size you want (reusable)
  • Rings for those jars (also reusable)
  • Lids (one time use only)

We got all our jars at estate and garage sales, we now have rubbermaid tubs filled with all sizes and shapes. They are pretty cheap. The lids you will have to buy new, but they aren't too expensive. The ones in the picture are the pickle jars, the jam jars are much smaller.

Tools:

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  • magnetic lid grabber
  • plastic spatula
  • jar grabber
  • jar funnel

You can get all these tools as part of a canning package at most major stores. I think we got this collection at Target.

Pots:

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  • 5-8 qt. saucepan for cooking up your jams (use one bigger than the one I have in the picture)
  • Big boiling-water canning pot
  • canning rack (comes with the canner)

I also made some fruit leather with leftover peaches, so you would need a blender for that as well.

Ingredients and Steps[edit]

OK, let's look at jams first. Basically, jams are just fruit, sugar and pectin. Jellies are the same, but the fruit has been pureed or juiced, so it is smooth. Jam still has the chunks in it, which I like. Pectin is a gelling agent made from fruits, it is all-natural and has been around forever (They have found jam in the tombs of Chinese noblemen from over 1,300 years ago). So vegetarians and vegans can enjoy jam along with the omnivores.

We are making cooked jams, but you can also make freezer jams that are a little simpler. But since I want to be able to store these in the pantry, we did the cooked jams. Here are the proportions for the 2 jams:

  • Strawberry
    • 5 cups crushed strawberries
    • 7 cups sugar
    • 1 package powdered pectin
  • Peach
    • 4 cups crushed peaches
    • 5 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1 package powdered pectin

Our canning will follow these steps:

  • Buy and prepare fruit
  • Wash jars and rings
  • Sterilize jars and rings
  • Cook fruit mixture
  • Fill jars with fruit mixture
  • Process filled jars in boiling water
  • Cool jars

So let's look at each step individually.

Making the Jam[edit]

  • Buy and prepare fruit

You will definitely want local, fresh fruit for your jams. It makes a huge difference in the final taste. We did our strawberry jam in April, and the peach in July. All the fruit was from the local farmer's market. Picking out the fruit is half the fun, after all you have to taste test a lot to be sure you have the right stuff.

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The strawberries just have to be cut, but the peaches need the skins removed. To do that, drop them into a pot of boiling water, and let them boil for 1-2 mins. Then drop them into an ice bath, and the skins will (usually) come right off. If a peach isn't ripe, you might have to just peel them with a knife.


  • Wash jars and rings

Put all your jars and rings into the dishwasher, or you can hand-wash them. Either way, be sure to rinse them thoroughly to get all the soap out. Spjam7.jpg


  • Sterilize jars and rings

Get your big canning pot full of water and up to a boil (this takes a while, it's a lot of water).

Then, using your jar grabber, drop the jars slowly into the boiling water. Quart jars can be put in the jar rack, but the jelly jars work easier just being set on the bottom. Then drop all the rings in as well. Spjam8.jpg


Let them boil for a few minutes, then pull the jars out. Use the magnetic lid grabber to get the rings out. Set all the jars on a towel to dry. Spjam9.jpg


  • Cook fruit mixture

Now it's time to make your jam. The process is the same for most jams:

  • Jam-making process
    • smash the fruit
    • put the fruit and pectin in a pot
    • bring the fruit and pectin to a boil
    • add the sugar
    • bring back to a boil
    • boil one minute

So, do that!

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  • Fill jars with fruit mixture

So, first put your lids in a shallow dish and pour some boiling water on them. This will soften the wax around the edges so it seals well. Spjam14.jpg


Then, take your jars, and using the funnel, fill them. Leave about a quarter to half an inch of headspace at the top.

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Use a cloth to clean the threads and lip, and then place the lid on. Put the ring over that and tighten it down hard.


  • Process filled jars in boiling water

Now, take your filled jars and drop them slowly into the boiling water canner. Quart jars can go in the jar racks but the jam jars can just sit on the bottom. Spjam17.jpg


Cover the pot and process them (aka boil them) for 10 minutes.

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  • Cool jars

Remove the jars from the canner with your jar grabber, and set them on a towel. They are very hot at this point! Spjam19.jpg Spjam20.jpg


They now have to cool for at least a day. After 24 hours, press down on the lids in the center.

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If it pops like a Snapple cap, that jar is no good. Put that jar in the fridge and use it within a week or so. If the lid doesn't pop, it has sealed correctly and can be stored in the pantry for a year or so. Spjam22.jpg


There we go! Strawberry and peach jam!

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The amount of fruit we bought was way too much for both jams. We ended up making 28 jars of strawberry jam, and after we made 12 jars of peach jam, we had enough to also do 4 jars of canned peaches and 2 trays of fruit leather.

Enjoy!