So the results of my first foray into jam making? Pretty awesome.
As a recap, I hastily embarked upon my first jam venture by buying a ton of fruit, but lacked all of the other necessary equipment, like... jars, pectin, large pots, a clue as to what I was doing.
Between fruit buying on Tuesday and jamming on Saturday, most things came together. I bought jars, forsook pectin, borrowed a large pot, and started to have a clue. Strawberry plum jam was made. And it's good.
The cooking down of all the fruit with sugar was simple. No issues there. However, I was reading various methods for processing the jars from websites, friends, and the
instructions from the jar manufacturer. (Processing is the term for pressurizing the cans and sealing them. I was specifically doing a boiling water process.)
I made my jam in two batches, starting with the small jars. None of these sealed properly and I don't know why. However, my three large jars all sealed. The big difference was that I used the jar manufacturer instructions with the small jars. They specified keeping the jars in the canning water till they reached room temperature. Other instructions said to take the jars out immediately after boiling and let them cool at room temperature outside of the water, which is what I did for the large jars. I also may not have filled the small jars enough, the excess room at the top making it harder to create a vacuum. The recipe below outlines what I did for the large jars.
Strawberry Plum Jam
(aka Jackson’s Jam, since I was mascerating berries and plums while listening to Thriller just a few hours after MJ passed. It seems appropriate.)
3 lbs. strawberries
2 lbs. plums
2 cups sugar + 8 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 lemons, juiced
Optional step 1: Mascerate berries and plums in 2 cups sugar and the seeds of one vanilla bean, let sit over night, covered and refrigerated. (I used about equal parts light brown sugar and white sugar. I also let it sit for two nights.)
Prepare your canning pot before starting to cook the fruit. I used a large pot and lined the bottom with a towel before filling it with water. I filled it with water till about 3/4 full.
In a large pot, cook all fruit with the 8 cups of sugar and lemon juice for 25 to 30 minutes on medium-high heat. Stir continuously once fruit starts to boil. Skim off any foam that may accumulate on the top.
Let cool for a couple minutes then fill the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch space between the jam and the top of the jar. Screw on lids and wipe off any excess jam with a towel dipped in boiling water.
Place jars in the canning pot, placing towels in between the jars to prevent them from touching. Bring water to a boil. Then, depending on your elevation and jar size, boil for the recommended time. In Philadelphia, the pint jars needed to boil for 20 minutes. Water needs to completely cover the jars, so if the water levels starts to get low, add more.
After the recommended processing time, remove jars using a pair of tongs and let them sit, untouched, till they are properly pressurized.
Thanks to Marisa for her inspirational strawberry jam recipe and the advice along the way! Also E, Mike, Jim and Aditi.