Step-by-Step Process for Making Strawberry Jam
On a rainy day, there is nothing better than a piece of toast smothered with homemade strawberry jam and a hot cup of tea! The perfect jam requires a balance of quality fruit at the peak of ripeness, sugar and pectin. If you have always wanted to make homemade strawberry jam but were afraid to try, Martha takes you through the process one step at a time.
- Martha, what is the difference between jam and jelly?
- Jam is a sweetened spread that includes crushed fruit and small pieces of fruit.
This one you can really see the individual pieces of fruit.
Compare this with jelly, which is made from the juice of the fruit and is transparent.
You can see the light shining through on the bottom.
- I'd love to make jam.
Can you give me some tips on doing this?
- Excellent flavor can only be achieved by using good quality fruit at its peak of ripeness.
It will have the best color and flavor.
Select nice red strawberries that are colored throughout.
Often these are the ones which are freshly picked from gardens or roadside stands.
The big strawberries with the white centers...
tend to have less flavor.
This is a nice big one and you can see when I cut it in half...
Actually, it is more red than I expected.
But, you really like them when they're bright red.
Remember, too, it requires a balanced blend...
of sugar, acid--in this case acid from strawberries-- and pectin to form a gel.
Pectin and acid content varies by the type of fruit and its ripeness.
Slightly under-ripe fruit contains the highest pectin level.
As fruit continues to ripen, the pectin and acid decreases.
When commercial pectin is added to the fruit, it is okay to use all fruit at the ideal stage of ripeness.
The best way to learn is to do it.
So let's make some strawberry jam.
- Fantastic, Martha, I'd love to learn.
- [Narrator] Let's make strawberry jam today.
We need to do some pre-preparation.
First of all, wash your jars in hot, soapy water and rinse.
If they will be processed for 10 minutes, they will not require sterilization.
If they are only processed five minutes, sterilize the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water.
You can sterilize the jars in the canner, or you can use a separate pot with a rack.
You can add two tablespoons of vinegar to the water to keep jars shiny.
The nice thing is, if you don't have a water bath canner, you can use any pot that has a rack and lid, and is tall enough that the jars are covered with at least one inch of boiling water.
Use new, clean lids that have been washed.
It is optional to heat the lids.
If you do heat them...
do so at 180 degrees fahrenheit, for 15 minutes.
Don't boil them.
Bands can be reused if they are not rusty.
Pre-measure seven cups of sugar in a dry measuring cup.
Dry measuring cups are those made of metal or plastic.
Level with a straight edge.
Put the sugar in a separate bowl, and set it aside.
Wash the berries...
put them in a single layer in a flat pan or dish...
and crush them with a potato masher.
A blender is not recommended because the cell walls are broken down too much...
reducing the pectin level.
Also, a jam should contain piece of fruit.
It is not a puree.
Combine the berries and powdered pectin in a six to eight quart sauce pan.
Stir in the powdered pectin slowly to avoid lumping.
Use a large pan, because the jam expands when boiling.
Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming.
Follow the recipe if it calls for lemon juice.
Cook over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil that can not be stirred down.
Stir the mixture constantly.
Remove it from the heat.
Stir in all the sugar.
It works well to do so gradually.
Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Return it to high heat, and bring it to a boil that cannot be stirred down.
Boil it for one minute.
Set the pan off the heat.
Skim off the foam with a metal spoon, if necessary.
If floating fruit is a problem, remove the pan from the heat as soon as the jam is cooked.
Then, alternately stir and skim it for up to five minutes.
Fill the jars quickly, using a wide mouth funnel.
Allow 1/4 inch of head space.
Wipe the edge of the jar with a damp paper towel to remove any residue that could prevent the lid from sealing.
Apply the lid.
Hold it in position with your finger, and apply the screw band only until it is finger tip tight.
If the band is too tight, the lid cannot vent and will cause the lid to buckle under the band.
Use a jar lifter to place jars in the canner.
This canner allows us to place jars on a rack above the water to keep jars warm.
It is okay to place jars directly in the water.
Water in the canner should be 180 degrees fahrenheit for jars of hot jelly.
It is ideal to fill one jar at a time.
Work quickly to avoid jam in the pan from becoming cool by the time the last jar is filled.
Cover the canner, turn the heat on high and bring the water in the canner to a rapid boil.
Start timing the process when the water boils.
Reduce the heat to keep a rapid boil, but not a ferocious boil.
When the process time is completed, remove the canner from the heat and remove the cover.
Allow the jars to sit five minutes to equalize the temperature.
Remove the jars from the canner, keeping the jars upright.
Any water on the top of the jar is okay, it will evaporate.
Set the jars on a wooden board, or a towel-lined counter.
Don't blot excess water or tighten loose bands.
Allow the jars to cool at room temperature for 24 hours or overnight.
Test the seals.
You can initially tell by sight.
The lid will curve down if it's sealed.
A popping sound is made as the jar seals, but you won't always hear that.
Especially if the jars seal while still in the canner.
Press the center of the jar with your finger.
It should not go up and down.
The sound test involved tapping the lid with a metal spoon.
It should sound high pitched and crisp, while an unsealed jar has a dull sound.
A favorite method of testing the seal is to lift the jar by the lid and see if the lid stays in place.
Remove the bands, wash the jars and label.
Don't store jars with bands on.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
If the product is runny, it can be remade.
Follow the directions on the pectin instructions sheet.
However, some jelly and jams take up to three weeks or more for the gel to firm.
Instructions for making jams and jellies can be found on inserts that come with pectin products.
Good recipes are also found in PennState's "Let's Preserve Jams and Jellies" fact sheet...
And in the book, "So Easy to Preserve." Thank you for watching us.
Happy jelly making.
Frequently Asked Questions