My desire to learn how to can my own strawberry jam arose from an idea I had to give 4oz jars of jam as favors for a bridal shower I was throwing for my cousin. I really wanted to give the guests a unique, homemade favor and I had been wanting to learn how to can jam, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to fulfill both goals. To my luck, my future sister-in-law, who happens to be an experienced jammer and owner of jamming tools, offered to teach me the skills of canning (and use her tools too!).
Before I went over to her house on "teaching day," I had to complete three tasks involving the finding, purchasing, and cleaning of 36 4oz canning jars as well as purchasing the ingredients for the jam (recipe below). Despite the search for the 4oz jars being more difficult than expected, and having developed a small fear that they may not seal correctly after I decided to put the lids through a dishwasher full of hot water without fully thinking about what the effects may be, I finally finally completed the tasks and was ready to learn.
I'm not sure what I had expected the canning process to be like before I arrived at Monica's, but it's fair to say now that I definitely didn't expect it to be such a laborious process, in which positive results are not guaranteed. Basically, after going through all the required work, if the jars did not seal, they did not seal. This means to be a successful canner, you must be efficient and have the ability to quickly transfer your focus between the variety of tasks that need completed within a certain organized schedule of time.Thankfully, I didn't mess up too many (probably because I had an amazing teacher) and most of the jars sealed as well as some extra 8oz jars that we squeezed in at the last minute to avoid wasting any of the jam. Although my jars of homemade strawberry jam were finished from a recipe standpoint, they weren't quite ready to be given as bridal shower favors just yet. For a finishing touch, I tied some silver and lavender ribbon with wedding ring charms around the tops of the jars and added white fabric flower stickers on the sides. Finally my goal was completed! Not only did I have unique and fun favors to give out at the bridal shower, but I also got to learn how to do something new! If you are interested in learning how to can your own strawberry jam check out the recipe with step by step directions below:
Recipe (Serves approximately 5 pints)
- 4 heaping cups of fresh strawberries
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 1-3/4-oz. pkg. unflavored powdered fruit pectin
- 3/4 cup water
- Using a fruit masher, crush the strawberries in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and let mixture sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While strawberry/sugar mixture rests, mix the pectin and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil. After 1 minute of being at a boil while stirring constantly, remove from heat and add to strawberry/sugar mixture. Stir for about 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth.
- Warm lids in a small saucepan of water over medium heat. While lids are warming, use a ladle to fill jars, leaving about 1/2" from top unfilled. Clean off the lip of the jars with a damp cloth to prevent cans from not sealing properly. Using a magnetic tool, retrieve one warm lid from saucepan at a time, aline with lip of jar, and then cover with a metal ring and twist on tightly. Here is a visual guide to help show the order in which the jar should be covered.
- Fill canner with water and bring to a boil. Use a pair of jar tongs to place the jars into the boiling water, making sure the jars are covered by at least 2" of water. After approximately 10 minutes, use the jar tongs to remove the jars from the boiling water.
- Place jars on an even, smooth surface where they will not be disturbed (we used a wooden cutting board) for approximately 24 hours. The lids will make a "popping" sound as they seal, so the more "pops" you hear, the more you can relax. Occasionally check the lids to see if they have sealed by lightly pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid doesn't move and continues to stay down, the jar is sealed. If the lid moves up and down and doesn't stay in place, then it isn't sealed and you will have to refrigerate or freeze the jar or else it will spoil.