Jam is where everyone starts canning. It was where I started too…and almost gave up entirely. I was determined to can jam that summer. I was gifted a bushel of Concord grapes. I crushed and strained them simmered and stirred. But they never set and we had jars and jars of grape concentrate. Nothing like jars of beautiful purple unset juice to shatter your canning dreams. After that experience it took me awhile to work up the nerve to attempt to can anything ever again- let alone JAM!
I did not make jam again until my youngest, an avid jam eater, was well into school. We started our pantry and I had successfully canned fruit cocktail. I decided to overcome my Food phobias including cooking jam. My son loves strawberry. With strawberry farms near us, flats of berries were easy to find. I got out my official canning cookbook. Read every step 2 times – cleaned sanitized my jars, set everything out – timed it to the letter and then prayed. I had secretly decided if it didn’t work this time, I really would just give up jam, and just buy if from the stores. Every few minutes, as they cooled on my counter I could walk by and inspect them. Not entirely sure why, other then nerves, it is not like they would get up and dance or anything. Finally the next day I did the flip test and it worked! They all jelled the way jam should be. I dare say the taste was child approved!
I particularly like this recipe because it is much lower sugar then most recipes. In fact you can opt out all together. Some other recipes call for upwards of 7 cups of sugar- Plus with farm fresh berries, it tastes way better then store bought stuff at at fraction of the cost! I can make 5 pints with recipe below for about the same cost of an organic jar of true no sugar jam. Also if canned correctly it keeps on shelf just like any other jam.
If you have a good farm nearby buy local berries they are always sweeter. But feel free to use frozen (fully thawed) strawberries – if fresh are unavailable. Do not try to change pectins – “no sugar needed” pectin is nessicary, changes it will alter the results and could result in the dreaded unset strawberry sauce. Which is good on ice cream but not what we are going for here.
Strawberry Jam- water bath canning method
2 pounds strawberries
2 tablespoons Ball Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar (if needed)
Wash, stem, and crush strawberries. Taste the strawberries for sweetness and add sugar if needed. Combine strawberries, water, and pectin in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. If gel starts to from before 1 minute boil is complete, remove from heat.
Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space below lid. Remove air bubbles by stirring with a metal spatula. Put on lids and process 10 minutes in boiling water.