Hello!! I’m back! Hopefully I’m back for longer than just one or two blog posts before going on another extended vacation from my blog! My life has been too busy. Too busy to blog. Sometimes, even too busy to cook. But it’s summer and you don’t want to hear my sob stories.
I learned how to make jam on Monday. I took a class with 4 other girls. It was great fun! My Auntie Becki (who is a great cook, by the way!) taught the class on making jams and jellies. By the way, if you live near Bellingham or the Vancouver, BC area, Becki is available to teach private classes on any kitchen skill. They’re about 2 hours long, and cost $15 per person per hour. She’ll do the class at your place, or hers. The classes are hands on, and we got to sample our jam on scones (yum!), and take home a jar of strawberry jam, grape jelly and freezer jam. Leave me a comment if you’re interested, and I’ll pass on Becki’s contact information.
Jam is not nearly as difficult to make as you may think it is. I made freezer jam last year, but I though cooked jam would be pretty difficult and very time-consuming. It’s not! I made two batches of strawberry jam, which yielded 16- 250mL (8 oz) jars of jam. It took me about two hours, and considering that it’s my first time making the jam by myself, I think that’s pretty awesome!
Strawberries are just finishing up their season here, and man, are they good! They are sweet and tasty! I went to the produce store to pick them up, and the farmers were unloading their pickup truck! Fresh from the farm, how awesome is that!
To make jam, you need a few things:
- large pot (8-10 qt)– this is important, don’t go smaller, because your jam will boil over!
- measuring cups
- wooden spoon
- bowl to measure sugar into
- potato masher
- jars and rings
- sealing lids
- pan of some sort
Plus, you’ll need your ingredients for making the jam:
- possibly lemon juice.
Pectin is the substance that makes jams and jellies gel. It is naturally present in fruit, but the amounts vary. You buy it in small boxes at the grocery store (mine sells it with the baking supplies). When you make jam, you need to follow the recipe and instructions that come with your pectin. Each brand varies, and it’s important to follow the instructions that come with your brand! Now, you can only make one batch at a time. And, you need a lot of sugar to make jam, but you can’t cut it back, otherwise your jam won’t gel properly.
You need to make sure everything is ready before you start. Wash your jars in the dishwasher so they’re clean. Prepare and mash your berries with a potato masher. Don’t use a food processor (the instructions said). Plus, mashing your berries is really fun!
I’ll walk you through the basic process.
- Boil some water in a tea kettle.
- Put your crushed berries in your pot and combine with pectin (and lemon juice, if directed in recipe!). Stir well, and bring to a boil.
- Measure your sugar out into a bowl.
- Once boiling, add all of your sugar at once. Stir well.
- Let come to a full, rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute (or however long your recipe says).
- My recipe said to take the pot off the heat at this point, and stir and skim the foam off. You’ll probably have foam on top of your jam. Skim it off with a spoon into a bowl. You can eat it if you want to. It tastes delicious! I had to stir mine for about 5 minutes at this point.
- Put your jam jars into a pan, and pour boiling water over the rim of each one. This sterilizes them. Put the sealing lids in boiling water as well.
- Dump out any water in your jam jar, fill it with jam (use a ladle). Leave about 1″ of head space at the top of the jar. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jar well. Take a lid out of the boiling water, place it over top, and screw the ring on. At this point, put your jars aside! If you did everything right, you’ll probably hear a few pops, which means your jars are sealed.
- Continue the process until all of your jam is in jars! Clean up!
- If your jars don’t seal (the tops will look pressed inwards), put that jar in the fridge and eat it first! The rest of the jars will happily sit on your pantry shelf until you use them.
That’s the whole process! Next time I make jam, I’ll try to be more diligent and take pictures of the process for you.
It’s really actually quite easy and super rewarding to have 16 little jars staring you in the face, waiting to be eaten!
Go and try it!
The Hungry Teacher