Make Jam From Freshly Picked Berries
We had actually never made jam before until this year. We don’t know why it took us so long, it was always something we wanted to do. And now we can confirm that it’s not time-consuming or difficult – and we had a ton of fun doing it (and eating jam-covered things afterwards, obviously).
After we went strawberry picking one day, we knew it was jam-making time. It’s best to make jam after berry picking because you’ll inevitably have a ton of berries, and jam is easiest to make in one, big batch. It keeps for a decent amount of time and is great for gifting a hostess or just passing along to those nearest and dearest.
In our minds, strawberry is hands down the best kind of jam. There’s something nostalgic about it, because it’s the jam that went into our PB & J sandwiches as kids. I mean, who doesn’t love a jam with some big chunks of strawberries in it?! Spread it over some smooth (or crunchy…we know you crunchy fans exist) Kraft PB and you’re laughing.
We decided that as beginners we would make jam with pectin, because we thought it might be easier. Many people prefer jam without pectin though as it makes for a runnier, less jelly-like consistency. To each their own, so follow your preference. We’re not going to lie, there was a bit of trial and error during our first attempt, but don’t worry, we’ve ironed out a recipe for you. I can get a bit impatient, so I kinda dived right in to making the jam before we properly read the recipe or brushed up on some jam-making techniques.
We consulted the jam recipe on the pectin pack we had, but were hesitant because it demanded that 7 cups of sugar be used for 4 1/2 cups of strawberries. Yes, you read that right – 7 CUPS. That almost double the ratio of jam to sugar. We literally read it like five times and whispered WTF to each other like ten times. That’s a hell of a lot of sugar. We only used 1 1/2 cups and ultimately could have used less. Our jam was a touch too sweet – very Smuckers-esque. But also delicious so #noregrets.
- 4 1/2 cups of strawberries, hulled
- 1 cup of sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 pouch of pectin (we used Certo)
- Small bowl
- Large, flat spoon
- Wax paper (optional, this will make sense when you get to the How You’ll Do It part)
- Confidence in your jam-making abilities
- Scones, because you’ll want a vessel for consuming this jam right away. Might we suggest the Berry White Chocolate scones from Cobs Bread Bakery if you’ve got one in your ‘hood.
- Throw the strawberries in a big saucepan and mash them up using a potato masher. Decide how chunky you want your jam to be and mash accordingly. We like some strawberry chunks, so we didn’t go too crazy here.
- Add the lemon juice and pectin crystals to the strawberry mixture, stir to combine.
- Place the saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Stir in the sugar and bring the mixture to a rolling boil – which is when it’s boiling rapidly with lots of bubbling.
- Once you hit a rolling boil, simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes.
- Before committing to your jam being “done” you’ll want to test whether it’s set – which basically means whether it’s the consistently you want it to be and not too runny. You can do this using a spoon to scoop a small portion of the jam onto a cold plate or ramekin (you can refrigerate it in advance so it’s cold). Leave it to cool.
- Use your finger to draw a line through the middle of the jam on the plate. If you end up with a clean line right through the middle then you’re good, it’s set. If the jam oozes to join the two lines then you need to simmer the jam for longer and re-test it.
- Once the jam has set, you’ll want to do what’s called “skimming the top.” Basically, when you boil the jam it causes air pockets, which create a foam on the surface. Skimming this foam off will make your jam look prettier and will also ultimately reduce the overall amount of air inside your jar – which if you’re giving these as gift or properly canning your jam to preserve it will be important. To skim the jam, you can use a large, flat spoon and scoop out the foam into a small bowl. Or, you can take a sheet of wax paper, press it down onto the surface of your jam and quickly lift it (without burning yourself). The foam will lift off with the wax paper. Use the large, flat spoon to get any remaining foam off of the edges of the pan.
- Once the jam cools, transfer it into jars. If you plan to consume the jam quite quickly yourself, then you don’t need to worry about sealing your jars. However, if you want to preserve the jam for later or gift it, then watch this video tutorial from Lowe’s on how to properly can your jam. It’s not nearly as intimidating as it sounds – it’s the same process as making pickles.
- Taste the fruits of your labour by spreading that sweet sweet jam on some scones.
Now, you know we always do a drink pairing for our activity, but this has to be the most perfect pairing we’ve ever created: we made a jam cocktail. Yes, we literally created a cocktail with a scoop of this homemade jam in it, and it was absolutely delightful. Grab the recipe here.
Relaxing at Home
These chill tunes will get you all zen-like for your jam-making adventure.Click Here to Start Listening!