My family loves strawberry jam. Over every other type of jam. And jam is expensive, considering the quantities we go through. A few years ago I decided to make my own jam. My mother used to can veggies and meat, and I had experience helping her. She also used to make jelly. I figured if I really got stuck I could just call, so what did I have to lose?
The Advantages of Homemade
It turns out that making my own jam has two advantages: the first being that it tastes way better than any store-bought jam I’ve ever tasted. The second is that it is very frugal. For the cost of strawberries (which we pick ourselves), sugar and some pectin, I can turn out enough jam in a couple of hours to last the whole year.
But Isn’t Making Jam Hard?
It turns out that making jam isn’t hard at all. You just have to keep everything ultra-clean and pay attention. I followed the instructions that came with my box of pectin, mashing the fruit, then cooking it. The jars and rings had been run through the dishwasher and sanitized, and the lids put in boiling water. I cooked the jam as directed.
I thought I would have to invest in a hot water bath, and all the specialized equipment my mother had. But with jam, you can use the inversion method. You pour the boiling jam into a clean jar, wipe the edges, put the lid and ring on and turn it upside down. After five or six minutes, turn it back over again. The scalding fruit will kill everything in the jar, and it will seal. There are great references on the web of how to do this.
Preserving your own food can turn bad if you don’t follow instructions, have dirty equipment or process incorrectly. Never use food that looks or smells “off”. And of course, always check the seal on any canned item (grocery store purchased too!). If the lid isn’t sealed, don’t use it.
Photo by thebittenword.com