Thursday, September 03, 2009

Making Jam 102: The Whole Process From Start to Finish

The jammin' continues! In this post, I'm making cooked jam with Certo Liquid Pectin. I have used Certo for about 15 years, and I've never had a problem with their products. (I haven't been paid by Certo to say that, nor have I been given any free product either. I really just like them)

Even if you don't cook, you can do this. All you have to do is stir!

1. Wash your jars in hot soapy water, then dry them. I use my dishwasher.

2. Fill up your boiling water canner with water, and put it on the stove. It takes awhile to heat up so I like to start that first.

3. Get everything out and organized. You will find what works for you, but I like to get everything prepped and ready to go like this.


My counter is lined with a tea towel because a) the jam and jars are smokin' HOT, and b) makes for much easier clean up.

Place a cookie sheet in your cold oven and put the jars on it. Turn the oven onto 240 F. I've read a little debate over whether or not you should do this with jars, but for me it totally works and I've never had a problem. They sit in the oven and get hot so they are sterilized, and then when I need them I just use the tongs to remove them from the oven. Don't grab the whole cookie sheet, you'll have jars flying everywhere. I've also used a 9x13 inch cake pan, which makes them easier to remove because then I just grab the whole pan.

Put your Liquid Certo in a mug and snip off the top so that it is ready to go, because you won't have time to fish for it once you need it. Get a clean, damp cloth ready as well, you will need it.

Your snap lids need to sit in hot water. I usually just put them in a small pot on the stove, bring it to boiling, and then turn it down to simmer.

NOW you prep your fruit according to your recipe. I'm doing apricot jam with vanilla. Apricots are easy to prep; I pit them, and then plunk them into my food processor for a nice fine chop. I quarter them first, so everything is a uniform size and I don't have chunks.

**If your kids are good with a knife, you could let them pit the apricots and quarter them. This is something I did often as a child for my Mom.**



When the apricots are done, I add lemon juice and sugar according to the recipe. (Hint: a 2 kg bag of sugar is enough for 1 batch of this recipe, with about a cup leftover.) I thought I'd put a twist on this recipe by taking a vanilla bean, splitting it down the middle, scraping out the seeds and adding them to the jam, and then tossing the pod in as well. If you don't have a vanilla bean, don't worry.

Then I turn the stove onto medium heat and stand there, stirring, until it boils. This might take awhile but if you don't stir, it could burn. Also it gives you the opportunity to contemplate life and watch your boiling water canner to see if it's actually boiling yet.

**DO NOT ALLOW kids to do this part. It's too dangerous. Hot jam is sticky and will give you a good burn.**

Once the jam reaches a good boil that can't be stirred down, boil it hard for 1 minute. Remove the vanilla pods.

Take your jam off the heat, and immediately stir in your Liquid Certo Pectin. Then you stand, and you stir. For FIVE minutes. If you have foam on your jam, you can skim it off while you stir. I don't care if I have only a little bit, but sometimes you can end up with quite a lot. The stirring is supposed to help prevent from all the fruit floating to the top when you put the jam in jars, but I have never had that actually work. Not that I mind floating fruit, but whatever.

Once your 5 minutes is up, take your jars out of the oven and place them on the tea towel. Using the funnel and a ladle, fill them up but make sure to leave about 1/2 inch of space from the jam to the top of the jar.



Wipe the rims with the clean, damp cloth and top with a snap lid that's been simmering away and is hot. Screw on a ring just until finger tip tight. Once you have finished filling and putting the lids on your jars, grab your tongs and lower them into your canner, which should be boiling by now.

The jars will displace the water and it might over flow, so be careful. I usually have a pot or something ready to scoop out extra water just in case. There should be about an inch of water covering the jars, at least. Do your best.


Once you get the water boiling again, process your jam for the following times (depends on your altitude)

0-1,000 ft (that's me): 5 min
1001-6000 ft: 10 min
above 6000 ft: 15 min

At the end of your processing time, pull the jars from the canner and set them on a tea towel on the counter. Resist the urge to touch them, adjust the screw bands, or turn them sideways. Just leave them alone. You will eventually hear a 'pop!' from them as the lids seal up.

Let them cool on the counter, then you can label them and store them. If you had any that did not seal, just put them in your fridge to eat.

You can find the full recipes for blueberry and apricot vanilla jam over at Recipes From the Cookie Jar.

Any questions? Just ask in the comments.

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