I made a couple of batches of strawberry jam this past weekend. After reading several different ways of making it, here’s what I did (and it turned out good!).
I bought a water canner kit at Target. It contained the big pot, tongs to place and remove the jars from boiling water, a magnetic tool to remove lids from hot water, a funnel, Ball Book of Preserving book, and a tool to measure head space in the jars for $50. It also contained a few jars. I bought a package of smaller jam jars as well as larger jars since they might be harder to find later on after the "season" is over. I also bought several packages of pectin. I think I’ll get some replacement lids also (before I can’t find them in the store anymore) since jars and screw tops can be reused, but not lids.
1. Pick the strawberries fresh at a farm. Put in the refrigerator if not ready to can soon.
2. About an hour before starting, wash the jars (8 half-pint jars) in the dishwasher. Keep them in there on heated dry until ready to fill them. (My first batch filled 7 jars; the second batch filled 6 jars.)
3. Fill the water canner about half-way with hot water. Cover and heat on high. (It takes a very long time to start boiling.)
4. Put some water in a smaller pot, cover, and boil the water. After it boils, remove from heat and place the lids in. Cover and leave them there until ready to use.
5. Wash, hull, and mash the strawberries to get 5 cups. The Pampered Chef Cook’s Corer and Nylon Masher worked great for this.
6. Put the mashed strawberries in a stock pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
7. Add 6 cups of sugar (most recipes called for 7 cups, but 6 was sweet enough) and a package of pectin.
8. Stir constantly for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes add a teaspoon of butter (then you won’t have to remove the foam from the top of the mixture.) After 14 minutes, check for the thickness with a metal spoon that has been in the freezer. Put a little of the mixture on the spoon and taste it once it gets to room temperature. Mine was fine, so I stopped after 15 minutes and didn’t add more pectin.
9. Fill the hot jars from the dishwasher with the hot mixture until about a 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with lids and screw the other part on. I placed a towel on the counter to do this.
10. Hopefully, the water is boiling by now. (If not, put the jars in a 200 degree oven until ready to put into the canner.) Place in the canner, cover and boil for 10 minutes. There should be at least an inch of water covering the jars.
11. Remove the jars and leave on the towel on the counter until cool. Test the middle of the lid to see that it doesn’t pop up anymore. If it does, put in the refrigerator and use soon. Otherwise, the jars of jam should last 6-12 months on the shelf!