Berry season is upon us! Share a berry picking adventure with a few friends then turn your wild treasures into jam. With these short steps and a few simple ingredients you can enjoy the pleasures of your harvest year round!
Step 1: Step 1: Find Some Berries!
Peak berry season in Iowa begins at the end of June and lasts through the end of July. This year they came early! Berries grow wild all over the United States, do some research to find out if berries grow wild in your area. Why pay for them when you can have them for free?! ...and, not to mention, you'll have the opportunity to have hours of fun in the sun while bringing yourself closer to nature!
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
Jam making is simple. To produce 1 8oz jar of jam you will need the following:
1 8oz mason jar
1 mason jar lid
1 mason jar band to hold the lid into place
1 colander for rinsing and draining berries
1 pair of tongs for handling hot jars
1 medium size pot for boiling water
1 small pot for cooking your jam made from non-reactive materials (no aluminum or copper in other words, stainless steel works the best)
1 spoon for stirring made of non reactive materials (no aluminum in other words, plastic or silicone is the best, wood will stain permanently)
A towel for resting wet jars
A stove or fire to cook over
An egg timer
1 1/3 cup of fresh picked berries
1 Tbsp pure cane sugar
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp pectin made from real fruit (this you can purchase at your local supermarket or grocery supplier)
Want more than 1 jar you say??
To make 9 x 8oz Jars follow this recipe and proceed with directions:
10 cups of fresh picked berries
1 1/2 cup of pure cane sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
10 Tbs pectin made from real fruit
**Note, it is best to inform yourself of potential risks involved when canning and/or preserving foods. If this is your first time canning please educate yourself about proper canning techniques and safety procedures before attempting this Instructable. You can start here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
Step 3: Sanitize Jars and Lids
Place your jars into a large pot of water. The pot should be large enough to hold an amount of water that will cover your jars completely. Place the pot of water with jars onto a burner set to high heat.
Allow the water to come to a full boil, then set your egg timer for 10 minutes. Boil the jars for 10 minutes to sanitize. You'll know when your jars are done when your timer dings.
Set a designated place in your kitchen (the closer to your stove the better) for the jars to air dry after they have been sanitized. It is very important to let them air dry in order to prevent particles of dust and bacteria from a towel from getting inside.
After 10 minutes of full boiling, use your tongs to remove the jars from the water and place them in your designated spot to dry. In my experience it takes about 3 minutes for them to be completely dry.
At this time go ahead and drop your lids and bands into the boiling water then shut off the heat. This will sanitize them and help to soften the rubber rings on the lids. Allow them to sit in the hot water until you are ready to place them on the jars.
**Note, it is important to add your jars to the water before you place it on heat otherwise you run the risk of them breaking under shock.
Step 4: Rinse and Dry Berries
Place the colander into your sink and then fill it with berries. Give them a good rinse to remove any dirt or bugs that may have made their way into your bucket. Allow them to drain completely and sit until they are mostly dry.
Step 5: Cooking the Jam
Place your berries into a small pot on the stove over medium heat. Gently mush the berries with your stirring utensil. You don't want to them to be completely crushed because they will continue to break down as you cook them... just give them a little smush.
Add 1 Tbs of sugar to the berries and 1/4 tsp of lemon juice (fresh has a better flavor, however bottled will suffice).
Allow the berries to come to a full rumbling boil. Stir in 1 1/2 Tbsp of pectin and allow the mixture to boil hard for 1 minute. It is important to shut the heat off after they have boiled for the minute to prevent the pectin from breaking down any further. Your egg timer may come in handy here.
Step 6: Fill Jar
Pour the hot jam mixture into your jar making sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of space at the top.
At this time you should remove the lids and bands from the water. Give them a quick shake to remove any water droplets and then place the lids on the jars and secure tightly with the bands.
Step 7: Process Jam and Seal the Jars
After you have the lids secured on the jars place the jars containing your jam mixture back into the pot of hot water and return it to a full boil. You may have to replenish any water that has boiled away. It is important that the water level reaches the bottom of the metal ring.
Allow the jars to sit in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Setting your egg timer will help you keep track of the time. This will help process your jam and will be the action that seals your jars and makes them air tight.
**Note, it is important to process your jars for the full 15 minutes otherwise they may not seal properly allowing for bacterial growth.
Step 8: Cool Your Jam
After the jars containing your jam mixture have boiled for 15 minutes, use your tongs to remove them from the boiling water. Place them onto a towel to cool.
As the jars cool the air inside will contract and cause the jars to seal. This process can take up to 45 minutes depending on the air temperature in your kitchen. You'll know if the jars have sealed properly if you cannot depress the top of them after about 45 minutes. If you stay close and listen, you'll hear your jars "POP" one by one as they seal...a sure fire and fun way to be sure they have sealed properly.
**Note, DO NOT attempt to open the jars before they seal, it will let out too much hot air and prevent them from becoming air tight. It will lead to you having to repeat the last few steps and having to spend money on new lids.
Step 9: Label and Date Your Jars!
Yay! You made jam! Be sure to label your jars and date them so you can identify them in the future. Now, enjoy!
You can share your Jam with friends and family or keep it for yourself to enjoy throughout the year! It makes excellent gifts and you can get all fancy decorating the jars! You may store your jam on a shelf for up to a year.