Jamming 101

Next to freezing, jamming is the easiest way to preserve food.  And where freezing requires no equipment, other than a freezer, jamming does require a few things.  You will need to have the following:

  • a large, heavy bottom, stainless steal stock pot
  • a couple extra large pots for the water bath
  • a coupple jar separators (see picture to right)
  • tongs to remove hot jars
  • large ladle

Here are the steps to making my Large Batch Blueberry Jam.  (You can use the same steps for nearly any jam, just follow the recipe that comes in the pectin package.)  This is a lower sugar recipe than most of the recipes I've found online.  Instead of tasting like sugar, the jam retains good blueberry flavor with a hint of extra sweetness.  I love it!  

1.  You will need one flat of blueberries, but remove on pint for eating fresh.  Rinse the berries, remove any stems or leaves or bad berries.  Put all in the large, stainless steal stock pot and set over medium heat.  

2.  Use a potato masher to smoosh the berries until most or all are mushed.  I like to leave a few whole to add body to the jam.  Slowly increase the heat, stirring almost continuously, until boiling.  Reduce heat to back to medium and cook for 10 minutes.   

3.  While the berries are cooking, take 20, large mouth half pint canning jars, rinse in hot water.  Place in 2 extra large pots and fill all with hot (as hot as you can get it) water until 1 inch over the tops of the jars.  Place on free burns and turn the heat on high. 

4.  In a small bowl, mix together 2 packages "no sugar added" pectin and 2 cups sugar.  Now, this is where you may want help.  Sprinkle the sugar/pectin into the berries stirring continuously.  Add 1 tablespoon butter; this reduces the foam on the top.  Cook for 3 minutes and then remove from heat.

5.  While berries are cooking again, lay a towel out on the counter next to the stove.  Use tongs to remove the hot jars, emptying the water, and set on towel.  Place the lids in one of the pots.  Having an extra set of hands here is really helpful.

6.  Ladle the jam in to the jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar to remove any drips.  Use the tongs to remove lids and place on each jar.  Secure the lids tightly.

7.  Put the jar separators into the two large pots of water.  Use the tongs to place the jars into the pots.  If necessary, add more hot water to cover the jars by at least one inch.  Cover the pots and make sure the heat is on high.

8.  When the water comes to a boil, set the timer for 10 minutes.  At the end of the time, turn the heat off and remove the lids to let the steam escape.  Wait 2 minutes, then use the tongs to remove the jars and set back on the towel.

9.  As the jars cool, you get to hear the lovely "pop" that means your jar is sealed.  Allow them to cool to room temperature.  If any don't pop down, just put those in the fridge and use them first.

10.  Whoa-la!  Jam is ready!  It will keep for a year or so.  Never eat if the seal is broken or the lid is swelled (that's my PSA for the day)