Be A Jammer

by Marianne Kunneman

Fear of flying is quite understandable, but fear of making jam is purely incomprehensible! If you can boil water, you have the ability to be an expert jammer! The investment in equipment is nominal and you will love reaping the rewards of this simple process!

There is nothing better than the delectable fruity taste of homemade jam. Make plenty of batches, because friends and relatives will beg you for more at every opportunity once they eat the first jar. You will appreciate your jam most during winter's long bitterly cold days. While the wind is howling and the snow is whirling and drifting outside you can savor the freshness of just picked fruit!

All jam recipes are easy and they all call for pectin as an ingredient. Jams must be made with pectin, because without it your jam won't set and become thick. Pectin is a gelling agent found naturally in all fruits. You can buy pectin in either powdered or liquid form in most supermarkets. Recipes are included with the product. However, if you do, note that they only carry small boxes big enough for one batch and range in price from two to three dollars a box. Kitchen Krafts sells larger quantities that will save you a small fortune in the long run. Homemade jams do not have any other chemicals and preservatives that store bought brands carry. Of course the difference in taste is astounding!

Here's a great basic list.

  • Heavy large stainless steel or enamel pot. Don't use iron or aluminum !
  • Regulation jars and lids - Clean, glass Mason jars that are free of cracks and chips and a two piece lid that consists of a vacuum lid and the metal screw ring which holds the lid in place. Jars come in all sizes, but the jelly jars, pint, and half-pint are the best for jam. Most supermarkets carry jars and lids, but you'll find Kitchen Krafts has the best variety to choose from and sells them for a great deal less.
  • Cooling Rack- allows jams to cool and set evenly
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Long handled wooden spoon
  • Large metal spoon
  • Clean dish towels
  • Colander
  • Knife
  • Timer
  • Ladle
  • Widemouthed funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • Long handled tongs
  • Magnetic lid lifter - flat lids tend to stick together and this lifter is a must have that will save you time
  • Potato Masher - use for crushing berries

GENERAL DIRECTIONS - While the recipes for jams vary, the cooked jam directions are the same for every fruit. If you follow these nine easy steps, I guarantee you'll be thrilled with the results. These are the directions to follow when using liquid pectin. (Note: When using powdered pectin switch steps 5 and 7.)

1) WASH jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in a saucepan off the heat. Let stand in water until ready to use.

2) PREPARE FRUIT as directed. For berries, crush one cup at a time, using a potato masher for best results.

3) MEASURE EXACT AMOUNT OF PREPARED FRUIT into a 6 or 8 quart saucepan. Stir in lemon juice and water as indicated in the recipe.

4) MEASURE EXACT AMOUNT OF SUGAR into a separate bowl.

5) STIR SUGAR INTO FRUIT in saucepan . Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming.

6) BRING MIXTURE TO A FULL ROILING BOIL ( a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

7) STIR IN PECTIN quickly. Return to a full roiling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

8) LADLE QUICKLY INTO PREPARED JARS, filling to 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with flat lids; then screw bands tightly. Turn jars upside down for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn upright. (Or follow water bath method recommended by USDA.) After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with your finger. If lid springs back, lid has not properly sealed and jam must be refrigerated .

9) LET JARS STAND AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR 24 HOURS (or time indicated on recipe). Store unopened jams in a cool, dry, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate opened jams up to one month.

This summer take advantage of the luscious, succulent, plump produce that abounds in stores and farmers markets and preserve delicious fruit to enjoy during the upcoming winter! Caution: once you make your first batch of jam you won't be able to stop. I can't emphasize enough how wonderful homemade jam tastes compared to store bought. Give it a try and you'll be surprised at the heavenly taste!