Maria is a master of public health and a master gardener. She and her husband, known as The Gardener & The Cook, live in coastal Alabama.
A few years ago we spent a week in Scotland and England, where we ate delicious scones with strawberry jam every day. Yes, every single day. In England, we had them with clotted cream. In Scotland, butter was used instead.
After returning home, we decided to try our hands at making our own. Bo began the search for a good recipe for scones. With one recipe, the scones tasted fine but did not rise, so the texture was off. With another, they rose a little, but were still not right. He continued making adjustments, and soon he had perfected his own scone recipe.
With Scones, We Needed Jam!
When we kept having to return to the store to buy more strawberry jam, I decided to try my hand at making it. My first attempt resulted in something more like strawberry puree. It tasted great, but the texture was off. In other words, it was runny.
While my daughter, was visiting, she and I tried it again. This time, it jelled perfectly, and was a huge success.
Be sure to read the instructions before you start cooking. The first thing you want to do is prepare the jars.
The list of ingredients is farther down the page. While you’re waiting for the water for the jars to boil, you will begin crushing the berries as described below.
Step 1: Prepare the Jars
- Place a cloth in the bottom of a large pot, and cover with about 2 inches water.
- Place 10 clean, empty, half-pint canning jars (or 5 one-pint jars) in the pot while the water is still cold.
- Heat the water and jars over high heat until the water comes to a boil. (This heats the jars gradually, preventing them from breaking, as they would if boiling jam were to be added to cold jars.)
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Step 2: Prepare the Lids and Rings
- Place the lids and rings in another pot of water, and bring to a simmer. Leave the lids and rings in this pot until the jars are filled with jam.
- This prepares the sealing compound in the rubber seal of the lids. DO NOT let the water with the lids come to a boil, or the sealing compound will be activated, and the lids will be useless before you can use them.
Step 3: Make the Jam
Now that we've prepared the jars and lids, it’s time to make the jam!
- 4 (16-ounce) packages strawberries
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 packages Sure Jell
- 7 cups sugar
- Place strawberries in a blender or food processor, or crush them by hand with a potato masher.
- Pour blended berries into a large saucepan or a stockpot.
- Add lemon juice, then pectin. (I used Sure Jell, following the directions on the package.)
- Bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar, stirring well until it is completely dissolved, and bring the mixture back to a boil.
- Remove the pan from heat, and skim off the foam, if desired.
- With the 5 jars still in the hot water, ladle the hot jam into the hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. (See note below that explains headspace). Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place the lids on the jars, and carefully screw on the ring until it is fingertip tight. (Be sure to tighten more after they have cooled.)
- Leave the jam-filled jars the pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Then remove jars and allow to cool. As the jars cool, the vacuum seal will form and you will hear the lids “ping” when the seal is complete.
What Is Headspace?
Headspace is the space from the top of the food to the top of the jar. With too little headspace, the food may boil over and prevent the lid from sealing.
With too much headspace, the processing time will not be long enough to drive the air out of the jar, preventing a proper seal. Either way, without a good seal, the food will not likely be safe to eat.
Canned Food Safety Tips
- Check the lids after 24 hours to make sure the lids do not flex up and down when the center is pressed.
- If your jars do not seal, you can keep them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks, but no longer. The tiny jar in the photo at the top of the page was used to hold the last little bit of jam in the pan, so the headspace is far too large. We stored this one in the fridge and ate it first.
© 2021 MariaMontgomery