So I decided to begin canning with this recipe for strawberry jam. I had wanted to try my hand at canning for the past couple years, but never got around to it, thinking it was complicated and would involve way too much of a time commitment. While I will admit that it did take a bit of time to complete the process, it was nowhere near as complex as I had imagined!
Keep in mind, I had the bare essentials for my first canning, a simple kit from one of the large canning companies, and no rack for our large stockpot! Instead of a rack, I flipped one of our pie tins upside down and placed it in the bottom of the pot.
Let me just say that I do not recommend this method, and you better believe I totally picked up a genuine canning rack/jar lifter while we were at the grocery store today!! Thanks to this, I think the next canning project will be smooth as silk!
To can/jar items easily, optimally you would want the following items:
-A set of basic tools (This set looks amazing but you can get a decent starter kit at Target as well! Our local Target had an entire display of canning stuff.) My favorite tool from the kit I bought was a stick with a magnetic end for easily removing the lids from the hot water bath! Great idea.
-A set of canning jars, generally you will find these are made by Ball or Kerr (Can't find a good website for Kerr, sorry!)
-Another good sized stockpot to be used for making the item to be jarred
-A wire rack or jar lifter to remove the jars
I am probably forgetting some stuff you need, but feel free to read up on canning if you're going to undertake this sort of project. It definitely helps if you have instructions and read them through a few times. The book I used for reference (both for this specific recipe and for my canning instructions) was Lip Smackin' Jams & Jellies by Amy and David Butler. It is a nice book that not only gives you great recipes and instructions, but also great ideas for wrapping the jars to give as gifts! (Sorry, we just spoiled what everyone is getting for the holidays!)
This particular strawberry jam is pretty good, but a bit sugary for my tastes. I think next time I would try another recipe or attempt to lessen the sugar. It is a great jam for spreading on your morning toast, and would probably be really good spooned over ice cream or waffles. For a first attempt it was a nice basic recipe that is pretty easy.
I also want to add that the strawberries you find at the farmers market are perfect for this! They are a little tart and smaller than the berries found in the grocery store, but they have a super fresh taste that just screams summer!
Whole Strawberry Jam
-4 cups strawberries
-4 cups sugar
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Wash the strawberries, then hull and measure into medium sized non-reactive pot. Mix sugar into the pot with the strawberries. Place pot over low heat and mix to combine until juices are released. Raise temperature and stop stirring. Allow to boil for 15 minutes. Be sure to watch carefully and adjust heat as necessary to prevent boiling over. Do not stir, but drag wooden spoon across bottom of pan to prevent sticking. After 15 minutes mixture should be set. Pour lemon juice over berries and let cool. When cool, stir the juice in, pour into sterilized jars and seal according to jar maker's instructions.
Makes 4-5 cups, or enough to fill 4-8 oz jars.