Making my own jam is one of the things that helps me feel better about saying good bye to my garden for the year.
It is now halfway through October. It’s crazy how fast this year has flown. It seems like we jumped from the peak of summer to a month into fall in the blink of an eye! However, this change isn’t all that bad if you ask me.
When it is peak blueberry and cherry season I freeze a lot of fruit. I went cherry picking at one of my childhood friend’s home this summer and came home with nine and a half POUNDS of cherries. Instantly I was overwhelmed. After about three days of pitting and freezing I had two quart bags full of cherries.
Of course, I ate some fresh and they were so amazing, but it’s impossible for me to eat over nine pounds of fresh cherries before they spoil. So I freeze the majority for what becomes easily the best part of fall-canning time!
Every year I can various foods. Pickles, relishes, tomato sauce… but one of my favorites has to be the jam! It’s a perfect way to preserve all of the excess fruit I had all spring and summer.
This year I have cherries, blueberries, and various wild berries I harvested from my parents’ property as well as the woods behind their property. I have in total about three quarts of fruit to work with.
Now I must admit I did get a bit of a jump on canning this year. Earlier this year I made some cherry pie filling, cherry jam, mixed berry syrup, and blueberry jam. All except the blueberry jam are currently sitting in my pantry waiting patiently to be used this fall and winter. (The one jar of blueberry jam went to my best friend)
However I still have two and a half quarts of fruit to use. That leaves me plenty to have a few fun-filled canning days!
Now I’ll be the first to admit, canning jam can take up a bit of time. You have to cook down the fruit with pectin and sugar. You have to boil the water and sanitize your jars. You have to pack your jars and then process them. I won’t lie to you; even with preparing and freezing the fruit ahead of time, making one batch can easily take an hour or so.
However, I am of the belief that this is time well spent! You are making food for yourself so that you can be even a little bit more self-sufficient this winter. In addition, by making your own jams and jellies you know exactly what is in them and how they were prepared. You control the amounts of sugar, you control the ingredients.
The jam I make has four simple ingredients. All I use is fruit, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice. With these ingredients I’m able to make so many delicious jams every year.
Pectin is essentially a type of starch found naturally in plants and, especially fruits. When used with regular table sugar it binds fruit together and makes it form the more solidified jam we enjoy. You can buy pectin from a variety of retailers. I’ve gotten mine from grocery stores, but you can also purchase it online from retailers like Amazon (Personally, I don’t recommend that though.)
Other supplies you’ll need is: a deep pot, a rack to keep the jars off of the bottom of the pot or a caddy that lifts out, tongs, pint jars, jar rings, canning lids, and a potato masher.
It is important to keep the jars off of the bottom of the pot because the heat is very intense at the bottom and can crack the jars or cause them to shatter. Racks can be found at online canning retailers or in-store at places like Wal-Mart.
Jars can be found at similar places. I love shopping for jars, because while I usually go for the simple, regular mouth, standard pint jars, there are so many options out there for creativity. There are quilted jars, colored jars, embossed jars… So many beautiful options. If you’re looking to can a jam to gift someone I’d recommend shopping around so you can see just how many cute jar options there really are.
Down below I have included links to a few online retailers for all things canning.
If I were to give one piece of advice when it comes to jam making, it would be follow your recipe! It matters. Especially with pectin, because pectin requires there to be a certain ratio of acid to sugar to pectin for it to set the best. Of course, if you want your jam a little runnier you can use less sugar, but I highly recommend (at least at first) really following a good recipe. Store-bought pectin typically contains recipes for making jam using their pectin.
It is also important to note that different pectins require different amounts of sugar. When I used Pomona’s pectin I used less sugar than I do now with Sure-Jell. Always consult the little paper included in your pectin packet for the correct ratios. What type of fruit you use will also impact how much sugar and pectin you’ll need.
I love canning every year. It’s a tradition I’ve built with my mom and even when I’ve been busy with work or school, I always try find time to just can and enjoy an evening or a weekend afternoon. Canning can be so rewarding, because you are creating your own food! That’s self-sufficiency, which is all the more important now given the current state of the country.
By canning fruit jam using fruit you either grew, bought locally in season, or were just able to get during your local supermarket’s weekly sales, you are making it so you can go without the grocery store this winter on at least one item. That’s worth the time investment!
I love canning jam, and I hope y’all do to.
Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Whether you stay a day, a week, a month, or a year, I appreciate you. -Kate