My grandmother and I made strawberry jam at least once a year, and I loved making it with her almost more than eating it.
When I was a little girl, I remember standing on a stool in my grandmother's kitchen, stirring a big pot of bubbling strawberries and sugar with a wooden spoon. The sweet, warm smell of the concoction was wonderful. My grandmother and I made strawberry jam at least once a year, and I loved making it with her almost more than eating it.
So, when my boys got to be old enough, I was excited about making it with them. I called my grandmother and asked for her recipe. What she sent me was a compilation of different bits and pieces of recipes she'd used over the years. I read all of them carefully and put together the parts that made sense. We've made jam two years in a row now, and everyone is always delighted to receive it as a gift. What follows is our deliciously simple recipe.
- You can easily cut the recipe in half by simply halving each ingredient quantity and the number of jars.
- Powdered fruit pectin along with canning jars can often be found in the canning section of your grocery store.
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24 (4-ounce) jars
- 3 pounds fresh strawberries
- 8 cups sugar
- 2 boxes powdered fruit pectin
- 24 (4-ounce) or 12 (8-ounce) canning jars
- 1 (8-quart) pot
- potato masher, or similar
- large spoon for stirring
- ladle and pitcher (if you don't wish to pour straight out of the pot)
Step 1: Cook the Strawberries
- Rinse the strawberries, cut the stems off, and place them in the large pot.
- Mash the strawberries thoroughly with the potato masher. I like to leave some large pieces, but this is a matter of personal taste.
- Add the powdered fruit pectin, and mix well.
- Place the mixture on high heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a full boil.
- Slowly add the sugar, continuing to stir. Be sure it returns to a full boil.
- Do not remove it from the heat before reading the next section.
Step 2: Pour the Jam Into Jars
Pouring jam in jars may seem simple—until you read you're supposed to boil the jars after filling in order to seal them. Also, when you're faced with a vat of boiling strawberries, you may wonder how you're going to get all that into all those little jars without making a complete mess. Here's how:
Pour the Jam
- Some people skim the foam off the top before pouring. To avoid this, I pour the jars, especially the first few, all the way to the top so that when the air settles out of them, the jar is still plenty full.
- Immediately after removing the jam from the heat, ladle it into a pitcher with a good pour spout.
- Use the pitcher to pour into the jars, refilling the pitcher as necessary.
- Wipe any excess jam from the rims and lids, to ensure proper sealing.
- Screw lids on tightly.
- It's useful to have another person wiping, capping, and removing the jars to another surface. This way, you can pour quickly while the jam is hot and have the filled jars out of your way while you do the rest.
Seal Using the Inversion Method
Turn them upside down for at least five minutes, immediately after capping. The heat from the jam seals the jar. No boiling is required. That's it!
If the jam sticks to the lid after turning right side up again, gently shake the jar in an upward motion to return it to the bottom.
Step 3: Label Your Jars
It's a good idea to label your jars, especially if strawberry jam isn't the only thing you're canning. Most canning jars come with write-in stickers you can use. You may want something more artistic though, especially if you're using them as gifts. I'm partial to the circular ones that go on the lids, since they are easily seen from the top and are decorative, requiring no additional packaging to make them attractive. Etsy is a great resource for inexpensive, attractive canning labels.
Now that your jam is all ready and labeled, you have some great gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and teachers. You can pair it with tasty homemade biscuits or bread for a more elaborate gift or just let the jam stand for itself. You may also choose to attach the recipe to your gift jam. Since sealed jars of jam need no refrigeration and can last for years as long as they remained sealed, you can make them well ahead of time and have gifts for people year-round. You're jammin'! (I couldn't resist.)