Tag Archives: how to make jam

Jamming

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Jamming

So, I went to Walmart to pick up Certo to make some jam yesterday. I asked the young man, “Do you sell the boxed Certo, for making your own jam?”

To which the young man replied, “You can make jam?

I’m sometimes amazed that in my grandparents time, people had to go to the store every day to get meat for dinner, because they didn’t have a fridge. People had to use the fruits and vegetables from their garden to feed their families for the winter, and there was no such thing as frozen dinners. But things have changed so much over two generations, that our generation is, for the most part, unaware of skills like how to make jam. And it really isn’t that hard, honest. If a zombie apocalypse ever does come, our generation is screwed…. or at least we have a lot of learning to do…let’s just pray that we still have wifi!

Anyways, I thought I would post how to make jam. This year, I’m going to post how to get a little creative with jam recipes. They really are pretty forgiving, andthere has only been a couple times over the last 15-20 years that my jam hasn’t set properly. So, hopefully these tips will help.

I bought a flat of over ripe figs for $5, which I thought was a great deal…ok, except they looked more like this…

So, I skinned them and chopped them up..

But, that only made just under two cups, which is not enough for jam. So, I found a couple of ripe mangos in the back of the fridge, so I chopped them up too.

Then I washed a bunch of jars, and lids, and tossed them in the oven at 300 degrees.Tip number one: this is the easiest way to sterilize the jars and lids. You leave them in the hot oven while you are cooking the jam. I added the mango and figs to a saucepan, mixed it with the powdered pectin and brought it to a boil.

The other thing I should mention is that if I am going off script with my fruits, and mixing fruits, or adding fruits like figs and mangos, that are not on the little recipe paper that comes in the powder box, I always try to keep the fruit at about 4 1/2 cups. 4 1/2 cups fruit and 6 cups of sugar has always worked for me. I know that sounds like a lot of sugar, which it is, but it’s not like anyone should be eating a bowl full of jam, just a teaspoon at a time.

Tip number two: the recipe always says to let it boil for a minute, but let it boil for longer. Make sure it comes to a rolling boil, and let it continue for 2-3 minutes. If you don’t let it boil for long enough here, your jam might not thicken enough. Then, I always measure my sugar into a bowl first.. this way I don’t loose count, and I can focus on stirring it as I pour it in.

Keep stirring it, and scraping the sides until,it comes to a rolling boil. Once again, let it boil for longer that what the recipe will tell you. The jam will foam a little and boil up a lot, increasing in size. Don’t let it boil over, burned jam smells horrible, and is not fun to clean up.

You can let the jam set and cool down for a couple minutes before you jar it. If there is a lot of foam floating on the top, skim it off with a spoon into a bowl. The foamy part is still delicious to eat on toast, just doesn’t look so pretty of the top of your jam jars.

I usually use a smaller measuring cup to spoon it into a container with a lip, or spout to pour it into the jars.

Tip number 3: fill 5 or 6 jars half full at one time, then fill the second half. Most of the pieces of fruit float, and if you fill one jar at a time, by the time you get to the last jar, there usually isn’t any fruit left.

Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the rims of the jars to make sure there isn’t any jam to prevent the jars from sealing properly.

Use oven mitts and a towel to pick up the jars and tighten the lids. This is the part where I burn my fingers most often. The jars are really hot, and the jam is really hot, so you can’t do it with bare hands.

Tip number 4…my best tip of all. Turn the oven off, and put all of the filled jars back in the oven and leave them there for 12-24 hours. This will seal the jars… no need to boil them. In a few hours, you should hear the jar lids pop, as they cool down and seal.

And, finally, Tip number 5, label them ASAP. Trust me, it’s really hard to tell the difference between Blueberry, blueberry-banana, and Blueberry-strawberry jam by looking at them! Label them as soon as they are cool enough.

I order address mailing labels from Vista print, and instead of an address, I write, “This jar contains…” it is a pretty inexpensive way to have custom labels. I also order circle labels for the tops of the jars saying something like “made for you in the Viero kitchen”

Now that everything is labelled, come Christmas time, I just pull out a few bottles and put them in a little gift basket, maybe toss in some cookies, and give them out as teacher presents, and gifts.

I usually make 60-100 jars of jam every summer. I’ve only made about 40 so far, so I’ve got some works to do still. But, trust me, come December, I am always thankful that I put in the time now!

I hope I have inspired you to go off the recipe card, and experiment. But, if you have never made jam, strawberry is always the best place to start! Good luck!

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In a Jam!

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I’m back! We have been pretty busy the past few weeks, We are almost ready for our grand reveal of our backyard renovations…it has been a disaster area here for the last month…but we are onto the finishing touches now.
So, between the reno, and going to Darien Lake, then Niagara Falls… we have had our hands full packing, unpacking and cleaning. In between all this chaos, I have had a little time, just no time to write about what I have done!
Every summer I make 15 to 20 batches of jam, jelly, and sauces. I do this for Christmas presents for the kids teachers, hostess gifts, etc. Everyone is so busy around Christmas, there is never enough time to do something personal or homemade, so all I have to do is reach into the cupboard and grab a couple bottles of jam and put them into a fancy basket… My first time making jam was for my wedding. I decided to make a jar for each guest (no pressure there, right?) FYI John and I celebrated our 11th anniversary yesterday.
To make strawberry jam, John and I took the kids strawberry picking, and there is nothing better than strawberry jam made from freshly picked strawberries. I also buy fruit as it is in season during the summer. Best is straight from a farm…

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The thing that takes the most time when making jam is the cutting the fruit, but luckily, I have great helpers! Here is the kids helping with a batch of cherry jam…maybe I will do the cherries by myself next time!

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When it comes to ingredients, I am a loyal Certo customer. (Certo is the pectin that you add to thicken the jam) I have tried other brands over the years, but I have always gone back to the powdered Certo. I find I can substitute different fruits, and almost always, I end up with a great result.

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Here is my top secret trick for sterilizing jars….Once all of the fruit is prepared (washed, peeled and cut up), turn the oven to 300 degrees, take the lids off the jars and put both the jars and lids in the oven. The heat of the oven sterilizes the jars. You only need to leave the oven on for about 10 minutes, but keep the empty jars in the oven.
Add the Certo to the fruit in a large pot and heat until it comes to a boil for one minute. Make sure it is boiling for at least a minute. This part is important – put on the timer because if it doesn’t boil long enough, the jam wont thicken, and if it boils too long, the fruit will thicken too much, and will be clumpy after you add the sugar. (The good news is that the jam still tastes amazing even if it is too runny or clumpy, so really, it’s a win-win situation here..)

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Then add the sugar, and bring to a boil. Important :Not a boil like this….

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It has to be a full rolling boil, like this….
Wait until the jam boils to almost double its size, then set your timer again for a minute and let it boil. For this step, it is ok if you let it boil for more time. Stir if you want to, I really can’t tell you the difference between stirring and not stirring.

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After the minute has passed, take the jam off of the heat and let it sit for five minutes. This allows the jam to thicken for a couple minutes so all of the fruit doesn’t end up floating at the top. Skim of the foam if it bothers you. Also at this point turn off the oven. Get a slice of toast or bread and try a spoonful -I love warm jam! Trust me, it’s good!
Then fill the jars, wipe off any excess jam off of the tops and sides of the jars and screw the lids on. Don’t forget to use oven mitts, I have burned my hands at this stage more times than I want to admit without sounding like an idiot.

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Now here is the cool thing I learned from John’s mom; put the hot jars back into the hot oven, and leave them there until they have completely cooled. This will seal the jars. No need to boil or process the jars! I have a couple jars I have purposely kept for 4 or 5 years, and they are still fine. As long as the oven is really hot to start with, they will seal perfectly overnight.

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I’ve lost count of how many batches I have made this summer, but here is my jam cupboard…

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Gotta go, time to make some toast!