By Brandi M. Seals
If you are thinking about making your own jams and jellies, do not be frightened off by rumors that you will get sever burns and that it is hard to do. In reality, as long as you have a good pair of jar tongues and an easy recipe, making your own jam can be very easy.
To start with, if you plan to process your jam (thereby allowing it to be stored for up to a year without refrigeration) then you will need supplies for the process. That means you will need a large stockpot and a good pair of jar tongues. Unlike regular tongues, jar tongues are curved to better fit the curves of a jar.
You will also need your basic jam-making supplies. They include whatever fruit is required in your recipe, probably some pectin, a pan to cook the jam in and jars with lids and rings. You should choose 1/2 pint jars for jam. With larger jars, jam sometimes has a hard time jelling.
With all of your supplies ready to go, it is time to get started. Pick one of the following recipes for your first try at jam making. They are each easy to follow and fairly simple. It would be hard to screw one of these up.
4 cups of crushed blueberries
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
4 cups of sugar
1 package of pectin
Wash and pat dry the blueberries (if you are using frozen berries, allow them to thaw first). Next crush the blueberries one layer at a time. You can go as chunky or smooth as you like on the mashing.
Add the crushed blueberries to a 6 or 8 quart sauce pan. Mix in lemon juice and pectin. Cook this mixture over high heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a full boil. Cook the mixture for a minute, still stirring constantly.
When the minute is up, add the sugar. Return mixture to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute. Then remove the pan from heat. Skim off any foam that may have appeared, using a sterile metal spoon. Next ladle or pour the jam into jars that have been boiled and are still hot. Do not fill the whole jar. Leave 1/4 inch of head room in each jar.
If you plan to process the jam do so now for 5 minutes. If you wish to spice up the recipe, add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, cloves and allspice at the same time the lemon juice is added.
1 pint strawberries
3/4 pound ripe peaches
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 box of pectin
Wash and then crush the ripened strawberries. Place 1 cup of the crushed strawberries in the bowl. Peel, pit, and dice the peaches. Make at least 3/4 cup of prepared peaches. Add to strawberries in the bowl. Next, mix in the lemon juice and sugar. Set aside the mixture for later use.
Mix water and pectin in a saucepan. Bring the mix to a boil then let it boil for 1 minute. Be sure to stir constantly during this process. Add in the fruit mix and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
Remove the jam from the heat and ladle into hot jars. Let set then freeze. Jam can be used within the next couple of weeks. If you prefer, process the jam for 5 to 10 minutes.
3 cups of chopped and peeled kiwi
1 package of pectin
1 cup of unsweetened pineapple juice
4 cups of sugar
Bring together the chopped kiwi, pineapple juice, and pectin in a large saucepan. Bring the mix to a boil; again be sure to stir constantly. Once a boil has been reached, add in the sugar. Fully incorporate the sugar. Return the jam to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute straight.
Remove the jam from the heat. Skim off any foam that has form. Ladle or poor the hot jam into hot jars, being sure to leave 1/4 inch headroom. Attach the lids and rings and process the jam in a water bath for 10 minutes.