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Enjoy locally harvested fruit year-round with delicious homemade jams. Jams are easy to make at home and can be stored for up to a year. Follow these simple instructions for making strawberry jam at home.
When food is exposed to air, it’s also exposed to bacteria that can cause the food to spoil. Boiling food in a glass canning jar kills bacteria that may have come in contact with the food, and it also creates an airtight seal to prevent new bacteria from getting into the jar, allowing food to stay fresh and edible longer. Follow these instructions to preserve strawberries. Other fruits can be preserved following similar steps.
A preserve is any fruit preserved with added sugar. Jam includes fruit and fruit juice, while jelly is made with fruit juice. Marmalade is preserved citrus fruit. Fruit butter is fruit forced through a sieve or blended after the heating process. The FDA says that preserves and jam are the same; however, jelly is different.
Before you begin, read the canner manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow the guidelines for recipe preparation, jar size, canning method and processing time. Assemble the required foods, materials and tools. You can find canning kits at Lowe’s.
Make sure you have a good recipe as you're following the instructions below, or use the following ingredients (yields about eight 8-ounce jars):
Inspect the jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage. Also inspect the new canning lids to make sure they're free of dents. The seal should be even and complete, and the bands should fit tightly.
Wash the jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, dry the bands and set aside.
Heat the jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water at 180°F. Don't boil the lids. Allow the jars and lids to remain in hot water until they’re ready for use, removing them one at a time as needed.
Fill the boiling water canner half-full with hot water, elevate the rack in the canner and put the canner lid in place.
Heat the water in the canner to about 180°F, and maintain the temperature at a simmer until ready for processing.
Select fresh strawberries or other fruits at their peak of quality and flavor, free of blemishes. Prepare only enough foods for one canner load.
Wash the strawberries and drain them. Allow them to dry thoroughly, or dry with a paper towel.
Remove the stems and cut out soft or overripe spots from the strawberries. These parts can cause food contamination. If there's mold on a strawberry, throw it out.
Place a layer of strawberries in a bowl and crush them with a potato masher.
Add a second layer and crush the strawberries, then continue until all strawberries are crushed into a mixture of fruit pulp and fruit juice.
Use a liquid measuring cup to measure the amount of fruit required by the recipe, then place the fruit in a saucepan and turn on the burner.
Gradually stir in the pectin according to the recipe.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil — one that can't be stirred down — over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add the sugar as indicated by the recipe, stirring it into the mixture to dissolve.
Return the mixture to a rolling boil and cook for the length of time indicated in the recipe.
Once the mixture is finished boiling, turn off the heat and remove the foam using a skimmer or slotted spoon.
Use a ladle to carefully pour the hot fruit liquid into the hot jars, leaving 1⁄4 of an inch of headspace.
Wipe the rim and threads of a jar with a clean, damp cloth.
Remove a jar lid from the hot water using a lid wand and place it on the jar, centering the sealing compound on the rim.
Screw the band down evenly and firmly until it's fingertip tight.
As they're filled and capped, set each jar into the elevated rack in the boiling water canner. Maintain the canner water at a simmer of 180°F.
Once all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower the rack into the canner. The water level must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water to the canner if necessary.
Place the lid on the canner and bring the water to a boil. Recommended processing time begins after the water comes to a rolling boil: 4, 8 or 12 ounces for 10 minutes or as recommended by the manufacturer or recipe.
When processing time is complete, turn off the heat and carefully remove the canner lid.
Allow the canner to cool five minutes before removing the jars with a jar lifter and setting them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool.
Allow the jars to cool for 12 to 24 hours.
Once the jars have cooled, check the lids for a tight seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and doesn't flex up and down, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid doesn't flex and you can't easily lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal.
Jars without a secure seal can safely be reprocessed within 24 hours. Remove the lid and make sure there's no damage to the jar. If there's any damage, replace the jar and always start with a new lid. Then reprocess using the previous instructions.
Wipe the lid and jar surface with a clean damp cloth to remove any food particles or residue.
Label the jars with the product and date, then store in a cool, dry, dark place. Strawberry jam and other preserved fruits typically are good for about a year.
Before opening strawberry jam or other preserved foods for eating, examine the jar’s lid for tightness and vacuum seal. If the lid’s center is lower than the rim and pulled inward, it has a good seal.
Hold the jar at eye level, and examine the outside of the jar, looking for moist or dried food seeping from the seal. When you open the jar, listen for the sound of a pop, indicating that the seal held securely.
Once you remove the lid, look for any signs of discoloration on the food or under the lid. If found, discard the food in that jar.
If the food passes all these tests, enjoy the flavors of your home-canned foods!
*Time and Cost are estimated.