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Make Homemade Jam to Start Preserving at Home

homemade jam strawberry pineappleAny time of year is the right season for certain kinds of fresh produce. So, any time is a great time to start, or rekindle, your interest in home preserving.

I’ve made jam and canned a variety of foods. It is not difficult, but like many other things, it will work best with the right tools and some understanding of why certain steps are necessary to the process.

If you want to teach yourself home preserving (generically called canning, though you most likely will be using glass jars, not metal cans), making strawberry or pineapple jam is a great place to start. These are popular fruits. If you have another favorite, of course, certainly that would be good for you.

Jam is basically fruit, sugar and pectin. I recommend using fresh fruit make your jam, if your mission is to leave out all the unnecessary additives?

Use good quality fruit, proper tools, and you can have a row of beautiful jam jars to eat at your house, or to give as gifts.

I wrote a product guide to showcase some of the available books and tools for home preserving. Check out my product guide here.

Basic Tools to Start Home Preserving

  • The big enameled pot called a “canner” is large enough to do quart jars as well. For the water bath method, you need room around the jars for the boiling water to circulate.
  • The rack that goes in the canner is designed to keep the jars from jostling each other in the boiling water. Also, it is very efficient to lift the jars in and out of the water. The handles move further apart, and they have an “elbow” designed to allow you rest the rack on the rim of the pot. Remember that this will be a load of hot glass jars, so you will want to be efficient.
  • The jar lifter is a large tongs, with a curved section in the middle to fit around the neck of the jar. It has heat-resistant handles and rubberized grip designed to give you a firm hold on a jar.
  • The lid lifter has a magnet on a wand, used to grab a hot, sterilized lid out of hot water, so that you can put it on your jar of jam or other food.
  • The wide mouth funnel is very handy, too, because you want to be efficient in filling your jars, and you want to keep food off the rim. The jars won’t seal properly unless the edges of the rims are clean when the lids are applied.
  • A supply of canning jars, bands and lids are needed to store your product. Canning jars are often sold in boxes of a dozen, and some of them come with one set of bands and lids, but be sure to check. There are jar sizes starting at a half pint, all the way up to a gallon. Pints and quarts are very popular, but the small sizes are great for jam and jelly.
  • Beautiful labels are available, so that you can get to decoratively label your jars for home use or for gifts.

Jam is just one of the foods on the list of fruit-based preserves. There are also jellies, marmalades and chutneys. Beyond those, favorite foods to can at home include tomatoes (plain, and all the variety of sauces), pickles (a huge variety), vegetables and many others.

If you are a member of a local farm, though a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), then home canning will help you preserve all the beautiful fruits and vegetables that you receive in your family food box.

It is very satisfying, on a cold winter’s evening, to pull a beautiful jar of home canned produce from your kitchen pantry, and enjoy some of home-preserved bounty for dinner.

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