Jams Made Easyby Patricia Noonan
published June 27, 2013
A seasonal checklist for simple, succulent jams
Making jam needn’t be so daunting: like most special events, it just takes a little planning. Before you think about what fruits you’ll be using, it’s best to get a checklist going of what you’ll need. First, decide whether you’ll be opting for the traditional route or what we like to call the “fast jam route” (i.e. freezer jam). There is a bit more work involved in using the traditional technique, but this allows for a lovely visual display of your handiwork. It’s also easier to store your delish jams for gift giving.
Canning must-haves: what you’ll need
Whether you work with a friend or make it a family oriented event, simply break up the work into stages. The first step is to make sure you have the appropriate canning equipment:
Canner - This is a large pot for sanitizing jars after filling with jam. Complete canning sets can be purchased, too;
Jar funnel - This makes filling jars using ladles much easier;
Large pot - Typically, a 16 to 20 quart size is best;
Ladles - Ladles or large spoons make the funneling job easier.
Jars, lids and lid rings or plastic jars with screw-on lids if making freezer jams;
Labels - Boxes of jars usually come with a sticker sheet of labels that you can fill in yourself. There are also websites such as stickeryou.com that allow you to create cool, customized vinyl labels: these are ideal for when you are re-using old jars. Another option is to use a brown packing label with string, which has a real country style retro look to it.
Fruit - Ideally, use fresh fruit, but if you have to freeze your berries or other fruit, that works, too! Also, each province has a seasonal guide that you can check online to see which fruit is optimally fresh. Here’s a link for Ontario, for example.
Sugar - Granulated dry table sugar is the jam standard.
Pectin - Pectin is a natural product made from apples, and comes either in powder or liquid form; the latter is ideal for jellies. This is best used in jam making to avoid boiling fruit for long periods of time. It also means more jam can be made quickly.
Lemon juice - Increased acidity helps the jam to set. It’s also best to use with fruits that are low in acidity, like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and pears.
For the recipe, you can follow the one included with the pectin brand you’re using. Certo and Bernardin are classic brands.
Here’s a recipe for strawberry jam, shared with us by Bernardin.