Adventures in Canning Part 1: Low Sugar, No Pectin Strawberry Jam
I have had several requests for some canning blogs so I decided to take on the task.
I have been canning jam for well over 13 years. I grew up in a house where my mom canned when I was younger and it was something I wanted to do as well. Not to mention there is something about KNOWING what all you are eating, with canning you have just that. For all my past jam canning adventures I have always used pectin to get my jams to set. A few months ago I came across a no pectin recipe that used WAY less sugar than a typical pectin jam would. Then upon looking through an old canning cookbook of my mom’s I found the same style of recipe. After all, our great, great grandparents didn’t use store bought pectin so I figured I would give it a try.
First thing I did was gather up all my supplies. Since strawberries are no longer in season I bought a large bag of frozen berries at my local Costco and picked up a couple fresh lemons for the natural pectin source. I had all the rest of the supplies I would need at home. Those were canning jars, rings, lids, and sugar. I washed up my jars and rings with hot soapy water. Then I filled up my large pot with water for the water bath (this helps kill off any remaining bacteria to preserve shelf life), zested and juiced my lemons, measured out my sugar and my berries. One thing to note, since I used frozen berries I made sure to let them completely thaw before starting. After all that I got out all the needed utensils, a large thick bottom pot, all my canning tools (a ladle, a thermometer, a magnet, a large mouth funnel, and my tongs for removing the jars from the water bath), and a towel to wipe the jars down with. I was set!
This was my first ever attempt and I wanted to share this with my audience, so I decided to go live. I was excited to share my no pectin recipe I had found… or so I thought. It all started off like normal, add the berries and lemon juice as well as the sugar and start the process of getting it to a boil. The goal was to hit 220* F on the thermometer, this was supposed to take 10-20 minutes. Well after 30 minutes I still had not broke the 200* mark. In the tips I read it said to try adding a half cup more sugar if the jam was not hitting the gel stage. So in went another half cup sugar… still not happening. So another half cup was added… and nothing. At this point I have been stirring the jam for 40 minutes or so, double the time it was supposed to take! The last option was to add some more lemon juice, so I did that. Now the temp was starting to drop….this is not good. I decide to give it a taste and see if it is even close. Bad news, it is burnt!!!!
Gah!!! All that effort for nothing. I was so upset. Never, and I mean NEVER have I ruined a batch of jam. So here are my thoughts on this one. I think that I would try this one again, I like the less sugar and more fruit idea. When you make a store bought pectin recipe it is more sugar than fruit, 5 cups fruit to 7 cups sugar to be exact! And while I still feel better giving my kids a homemade jam vs a store bought jam, I would like more fruit. So stay tuned my friends, and when I give this another try I will let you know how it goes. Maybe just not live next time!
If you are interested in any of the products I used you can find them over on Amazon here: