Homemade Jams and Jellies

Canning: Jams and Jellies

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It’s almost time for raspberries again!

Here in our valley, July is the month to harvest raspberries. However, we have had such a rather wet Spring. I would guess the season will be a little late.

Several years ago, the raspberries on our Farm, which were planted long before we owned the property, died off and left us with nothing. Restoring those raspberry rows is on our project list. For now, we will be getting our raspberries from other farms.

This batch of raspberries was in the freezer from last year along with several bags of frozen grapes. In my effort to make some room for this year’s harvest, it is definitely time to make some jam!

First Things First

Let’s talk about some really important things to know about canning.

No matter what you can, sanitization is the most important step.

Start by washing your jars in hot soapy water and rinsing them thoroughly with the hottest water you can stand. If your dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle, use that.

After that, I fill each jar with water just off the boil, so they are kept warm enough to receive the hot jam when it’s ready. Jar lids are placed in water in a small saucepan on the back of the stove and set to simmer.

Remember that your family and friends will be sampling the canned goods you’ve prepared. You’ll want everything to be fresh and free from bacteria that can cause major illness.

If you have any questions about canning, be sure to contact your local county extension office for guidance and check out the website The Canning Diva for great recipes, advice and products.

Jar lids simmering on the back of the stove behind the canner.

Cooking the Jam

My stock pot has measurements on the side so I can tell how much crushed fruit/juice I have in the pot. Therefore, if I need a little more to complete a recipe, I usually add in some other crushed fruit or complimentary juice and the taste of the jam/jelly isn’t altered by doing so.

Raspberries getting ready to simmer.

Quick and Easy

The key to everything in my life is how fast and easy can I make it? My friend, Jackie, introduced me to Pomona’s Universal Pectin years ago. This product makes this process so easy!

Literally, measure the sugar and pectin into a bowl and mix, heat the fruit/juice with calcium water (provided in the packet, calcium activates the pectin) to a rolling boil, add sugar mixture and bring back to a rolling boil for one minute. Shut it off, fill the jars.

And the recipe is adjustable without being scary! Add more sugar, add a different kind of sugar, add less sugar, more pectin, less pectin… you can actually be flexible and creative. Perfect!

Sugar with pectin and calcium water in the jar.

Fill your jars, wipe the tops and sides of the jar so the lids can seal completely. Then, top jars with lids and rings.

The Canner

Place them in a water bath canner that is near boiling and lower the jars into the water making sure the water covers the jars by at least one to two inches.

Bring your canner to a boil with the lid on and boil for 20 minutes. Shut off your canner and remove the jars with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter.

As the jars cool you will hear the lids “pop” as they seal. Any jars that don’t seal need to be put in the fridge for immediate use.

Home canned jam just feels special as it sits on your shelf showing off its jewel toned colors in the light. Everyone loves the taste, and it even makes a unique and beautiful gift.

Since it’s so easy to do, be sure to try some recipes this summer!

I make Spiced Pear Jam, Apple Pie Jelly, Grape Jelly… the possibilities are endless! Additionally, a bit of homemade jam to a hot loaf of No-Fail Bread means you’re set for some serious indulgence.

Happy Canning!

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