The thought of canning scares me. In my head it seems so complicated. Jars, 2 pc lids, water bathes, pectin, ect. As a child we had several large apricot tree's. I remember sitting in the kitchen watching my Grams making preserves and other goodies. Since then I never thought twice about doing it myself, until now.
My bloggy and in real life BFF Michelle of Muffin Tin Mom did a post about making plum jam with a friend. During one of our phone conversations I asked her about it and she convinced me it is much easier than I thought. So after blueberry picking last weekend I knew I wanted to try. I searched and searched online for different recipes and techniques, still trying to understand the "canning" process. I started to get stressed when recipes called for a canner, funnel, special rubber jar picker upper thingy and more. I do not have any of that stuff, just jars and I actually bought for my notions.
I then found a vlog about how to can jam without all that stuff, finally! I watched it a few times and felt confident enough to go at it alone. So Sunday night, I gave it a try *fingers and toes crossed*
Blueberry Jam Recipe and How To:
4 cups washed blueberries
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pkg pectin (I used Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin)
5 - 8oz Canning Jars (I used Balls Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars)
Step 1: Wash your berries and set aside. Measure out your 4 cups of sugar and set aside. 4 cups of sugar is a lot so I reused my ice cream tub from our local dairy...lol
Wash your jars, lids and screw bands in hot soapy water and rinse. I left my lids and screw bands in a bowl of hot clean water until I needed them.
Step 2: Using a tall stock pot add jars and fill with enough water to cover 1-2 inches about top of jars. Set stove to simmer and cover.
Step 3: Smash up all those berries with a potato masher. Interesting side note...my potato masher is vintage. Passed down years ago to me by my Grams...awww :)
Step 4: In a pot separate from your jar pot (obviously), add your mashed blueberries, lemon juice and 1 packet of pectin. Start stirring and bring your mixture to a full rolling boil. "Full rolling boil" means that even though you are stirring, it does not stop boiling).
Step 5: Once you hit your full rolling boil quickly add your sugar to the pot and keep stirring. Bring your mixture back up to a full boil and boil for 1 full minute. Once again keep stirring as the sugar will burn if you let up with this high heat. Also be careful, at a rolling boil my mixture was splattering me so take a step back. After your 1 minute is up, remove the pot from the heat.
Side note: While I was stirring for the 1 minute, with my other hand I was using tongs to remove my jars from the simmering water and placed them on a paper towel lined cookie sheet next to me.
Step 6: Quickly ladle the jam into the jars to within 1/8 inch from the top, any less and you will not get a proper seal. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars clean, then place the lids and tighten the screw bands. Be careful, jars are HOT!
I realized that I was one jar short. I assumed 4 jars would be good but I had enough for 5. So while I was starting to fill the already prepared jars, I had hubby wash and quick boil a extra jar for me.
Step 7: Carefully add jars back to the simmering water making sure they are standing up right. If your water is not 1-2 inches above your jar lids, add extra boiling water. Once all jars have been added cover and bring pot to a gentle boil. Once the boil is reached set your timer for 10 minutes.
If your at a high altitude you will need to add some boiling time beyond the 10 minutes. There is a guide with the packet of pectin that explains this, so be sure to read it.
Once your 10 minutes are up, turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars from the pot. I tried using my thongs but it didn't work well...hence is why they make special canning thongs. Regardless, I used my awesome OXO silicone mitt. My uncle raved about this mitt and bought me one last Christmas...and I have to agree, it's pretty awesome! I stuck my whole hand in the boiling water to retrieve my jars, it was so cool!
Okay anyways, place your jars on the counter on a towel or I used my wooden cutting board, and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours so they can set. Now I heard you will know if they are properly sealed by pressing down on the middle of the jars. You know, that little pop up "button" thingy...well do not freak out like I did!
I noticed when I took them out of the water that the lids were "sealed", about 5 minutes later I checked them and guess what...yep the button was pop up. I freaked out thinking I did it wrong and got a little sad. Then another 5-10 minutes later I heard "pop", "pop". "pop". Ahhh, that's the "sound" all the recipes talked about. The sealed sound. As they cooled they all "popped" and sealed. WAHOO!
So my advice, do not freak out on the seal until you've waited the full 24 hours, save yourself the grief..lol However if after 24 hours you have jars that do not seal, it's okay. Those jars need to be refrigerated and will last for 3 weeks. Properly sealed jars will last on the pantry shelf for 1 full year.