Thursday, July 8, 2010

1st Jam making and canning experiance

For awhile now, we've been eating lots of PB&J sandwiches. I don't like buying the jam in the store with all the high fructose corn syrup and other added stuff in it so, I usually end up buying the "just fruit" kind and it's so much more expensive.

My Dad gave us a container of the freezer jam that he makes and Judah just loved it! I decided that I would try and make jam that tastes like his but, instead of making the freezer jam kind, I wanted to can mine. I haven't done canning before but, I love how people's pantry's look when they have pretty canned jars all lined up.

Here's how it went:
First I called around to try and find the best price on Organic Strawberries. Schuh Farm's is not certified organic but, they told me they don't use any sprays so, that was good enough for me. When we went to pick up the berries, you could buy a flat of day old berries for $17. The ones that aren't a day old are $22 but, to save $5, day old was fine with me! The sales person actually told me that they are better for jam because they are a little sweeter.

Anyway, I bought a flat.

They really were delicious. As soon as we came home, Judah wanted "berries".
After he had a little snack, I put them in the fridge and waited until he was in bed to start my jam making. My Dad said it took him about 3hrs to make 24 pints, which was 4 batches (the amount one flat made). I figured it would take me about that long so, I knew I'd be up for awhile.
I started at 8pm. First you rinse them, and pull the tops off. Then you mash them. I used a potato masher and it worked well. Washing and preparing them definitely took the longest and it was very tedious. I didn't get done with that until about 9:15pm.
I only mashed a little at a time because it was easier this way.

After all the berries were washed, topped and mashed, I measured them into pans on the stove. One batch gets 5 cups of crushed berries and I had 15 cups total so, I made 3 batches. Each batch gets one box of pectin. I had one big pot going with 10 cups berries, 2 pectin and one small pot with 5 cups berries one pectin.
I stirred the pots as they came to a boil and then it was time to add the sugar. Oh my, jam has ridiculous amounts of sugar. For every 5 cups of berries, you add 7 cups of sugar. Yikes! Here's where I didn't plan ahead well. I should've already had my sugar measured out. When the berries came to a boil, I needed sugar and I needed it NOW so, I had to call on my husband to help me while I kept stirring the pots.
We got the sugar into the pots and let it boil for 1 minute. The recipe didn't call for cinnamon but, my Dad adds that to his jam and I like it. So, with the sugar, I added about 1 tbsp. of cinnamon for every 5 cups of berries.
After it boiled for a minute, it immediately was put into the jars I prepared before I started the whole process. Then the jars were placed in boiling water for 10 minutes to seal. I don't have a real canning pot so, I used the big soup pot that I also used to cook the jam in. I just had to wash it first and it worked fine. The water level is supposed to be 1-2 inches above the lids and the pot wasn't tall enough for the quarts to be covered in water but, they sealed anyway.
When I removed jars for the pots, it was nice to hear the little "pop" sound as they sealed and cooled. The jam tastes good and the jars sealed so, I'd count it as a success. The total made with the 3 batches was 5 quart jars and 11 jelly jars. That's 248 ounces total.
I figured out the total amount I spent and here's what it looks like:
Berries: $17
Pectin: $6.12
Sugar: $5.00
Jars: $10 ----I can re-use these though. I'll just need new lids.
Total: $38.12That's $2.45 for every 16oz. A 16oz. jar of jam in the store is probably $3 or more so, that saves some money. Plus, it'll be less expensive next time I make it because I have jars now and the jam is organic without any weird ingredients.
After canning all the jars and cleaning the kitchen, I was done at 11pm. So, 3 hours total just like my Dad said. Pretty fun!


  1. Love it! Love all your pictures, you really make me want to try making jam. I've never done anything like it. They look so yummy. Good tutorial AND thanks for breaking down the cost.

  2. Cami,
    For a more detailed recipe, buy the Sure-Jell pectin, the recipe is in the box. That's the recipe I followed (except I added the cinnamon). It was a easy recipe to follow and it gave clear directions for the canning, too.
    See you tomorrow at the VBS meeting!!!

  3. wow, you did make a lot of jam! so much fun, can't wait to make another kind with you soon!

  4. I have always wanted to do this but something about it has always seemed so daunting about it - so I've never tried. But I am inspired. If you can do it in 3 hrs then surely I can do it eventually. :o)

  5. I love you for posting this! It was my inspiration to finally give it a try back in 2010. This year I am organizing a canning exchange. Soooo much fun! ALl because of you - so thanks!

    1. Oh, you are so sweet! I'm glad you tried canning, it really is easier than it sounds, isn't it? And the jars look so pretty when they're done! The canning exchange sounds like a great idea, I hope it's a huge success!


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