How to Make Strawberry Jam

Before we get to the strawberry jam I must first tell you a story.

15 years ago my sister (the painter) did a very mean thing.  The sort of thing only a sister would do.

So now,  I am going to do my own very mean thing.  I’m going to tell the whole world about her mean thing.

My sister, myself and my cousin were in my mother’s kitchen.   We were all sitting around a bowl of strawberries when I spotted it.  The perfect strawberry.  I don’t mean a pretty good one, or an O.K., one.  I mean THE perfect strawberry.  It’s the one strawberry marketers around the world have been searching for their whole lives.

This is a pretty good strawberry. Certainly not the perfect strawberry.

I picked the strawberry up with the reverence it deserved.  I admired it from every angle and showed it to my relatives.  As I held it up to the light I proclaimed it had a higher purpose in life than to be shoved into one of our mouths that instant.  I had big plans for this berry.  Maybe a decorative accent on a pie, or a topper on the perfect strawberry shortcake.  The possibilities were endless as I stared at that jewel of a berry sparkling like a glistening ruby.

Then my stupid sister grabbed it out of my hand and shoved it in her mouth.  Then she laughed hysterically.  Of course I killed her right there and then and my sister is now dead.  Metaphorically speaking anyway, she is dead to me.  Well, really only when I think of this story is she dead to me.  When I need her help or to borrow something she’s very much alive.   But still … it was a pretty mean thing to do.  At least I thought it was.  As proven by the fact that I remember it 15 years later.  Could be 20 actually.

You think that’s a sad story?  Wait till I tell you about the time I had to call the Certo jam hotline.  Meh.  What a fiasco that was.

Let’s make jam!  This is for those who have never made jam, so forgive me for oversimplifying if you are a  jam aficionado.

You're gonna need several of these.

Oh you need to know exactly how many?  Seems awfully demanding to me but O.K.  I’ll play that game. Here’s the actual ingredient list complete with accompanying photos and instructions.

Strawberry Jam (enough to make 7 or 8, 500 ml. jam jars)

Ingredients & Materials

2 full quarts of strawberries (once mashed they need to equal 4 cups)

7 cups of sugar

1/4 cup of lemon juice (juice of 1 mammoth lemon)

1 package Liquid Pectin  (cannot substitute with powdered pectin)

7 or 8 mason jars

Funnel

seals

rings

Here it all is in picture form. The ingredients looked pretty darn cool on my counter. I'm considering replenishing these ingredients and leaving there all the time. Looks way better than the paper towels and rotten bananas that are normally in this spot.

1.  Gather your ingredients.

I left the little green basket of strawberries so you could visually see what 1 quart is.  A quart is NOT one of those large baskets with a handle.  Not that I’ve ever made that mistake.  That’s the kind of mistake an stupid-head would make.  Call the Certo hotline.  They’ll tell you.  Yes, there is a Certo hotline.  More on that fiasco in a later post.

boil your seals. I like the cute ones with fruit on them. I had some leftover from last year. So I went out to find more this year. No more to be found. Stink.

2.  Start of a pot of water boiling on the stove and put your seals in there to get them hot and soften the rubber.

line em up in the oven at 210.

3.  Sterilize and heat your jars.

It’s important that your jars are clean and sterile so even if you just bought them, wash them in the dishwasher first on hot.

Set your oven to 210 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once it’s heated up stick your mason jars in the oven.  You need hot jars for the jam to seal properly.

Hull your berries. There's a fancy strawberry hulling tool for this. In all my fanciiness, I use the end of a teaspoon.

4.  Hull your berries.

Add berries to bowl one layer at a time and mash.

Keep mashing until there aren't any big chunks. Unless you like jam with massive chunks. I like a little berry in there, but not too much

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

5. Mash your berries.

Pour your 4 cups of mashed berries into a heavy bottomed pot.

6. Pour your berries into a heavy bottomed pot. A good pot. Your favourite pot.

Squeeze 1/4 cup of juice from lemon. Or use fake Realemon equivalent.

Add lemon juice to berries.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

7. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice, then 1 cup of sugar. Stir.

Add 1 cup of sugar.

8. Let the sugar, berries and lemon juice sit for 15 minutes.

Once your 15 minutes are up …. prepare yourself for a sugar shock.

Add remaining sugar to berries mixture.

9.  Add the remaining 6 cups of sugar.  Which looks a little something like this …

The remaining 6 cups of sugar.

Do not be alarmed. All jam has this much sugar, not just mine. I take that back. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can make delicious jam out of 2 strawberries and a stick of celery dipped in apple juice. At least they’ll tell you it’s delicious. Don’t believe them.

Bring berries to a boil.

It'll get a bit foamy towards the end.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

10. Stir the sugar to incorporate it then bring to a boil stirring constantly. Once you get a vigorous boil, stir for one minute then remove from heat.

Add 3 oz. package of liquid pectin. Check expiry date!

11. Add liquid pectin and stir.

Skim the scum ...

... like this.

12. Stir and skim the jam for 5 minutes. My sister (the strawberry pig) tells me it is important NOT to skip this step. If you skip this step, your strawberry’s won’t evenly incorporate into the jam. How does she know this? Along with piggy, mean-girl tendencies she has what is commonly referred to as cooking impatience. She skipped this step last time she made jam. Her berries did not incorporate. Again … something the fine people at the Certo hotline could have warned her about.

Your jam is now made. From here on in it’s just a matter of getting it into a jar.

Grab a jar from the oven. Use tongs like this which I picked up at a garage sale for 25 cents, or use a tea towel. Or an oven mitt. Or an old tee shirt. Or a handmade hand protector made out of an old neoprene Body Glove bathing suit from 1985. Whichever.

13. Grab a hot jar from the oven. At this point you need to work quickly so your jars, jam and seals stay hot. I leave my jam on the stove on low to keep it hot, but not cooking

Using a ladle, pour jam into jar using a funnel

Fill the jar to within 1/4 - 1/2 inch from the top.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

14. Fill the jars using a ladle and a funnel.

Wipe the rim of your jar with a wet paper towel to make sure no goo got on there. Goo will impede proper sealing.

Pick seal out of boiling water with tongs and place on jar.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

15. Wipe the jar rim then place seal on top.

Screw ring on jar. Don't tighten it.

16. Set your jam aside and wait to hear the rims “pop”. The concave dimple on the rims will suck in and become convex when the jars have sealed. For reasons known only to the most mystical of jam makers, the odd jar won’t seal. It just won’t. There could be a small chip or irregularity on the rim, or maybe the jam fairy is just angry at you. Perhaps it is the work of a mean sister.  Whatever the cause, you can just stick this unsealed jam jar in the fridge. It’ll be the your first jar you eat. So no need to worry or cry. Or call the Certo hotline.

Admire your jam! Then eat your jam!


48 Comments

  1. Gawd sisters are meanies aren’t they? My sister stole my fancy smancy artists pencils that I saved all my pocket money for & took them to school. So I hit her in the face with the serrated edge a box of Aluminium foil. 😀

  2. Helen says:

    Karen, you’re hilarious in your outlook and unique perspective – thanks for sharing with us!

    Does this recipe work with blueberries (ie: 4 cups of mashed berries?) and do you know if your jam is kind of the thickish kind (I find the store bought kind is firm) or is its alittle runnier?

    ps: you have a very mean sister! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Helen. No m’am! NO blueberries. All fruits have different sweetnesses, acidity etc. so you can’t interchange. Blueberries would be 4 1/2 cups mashed blueberries, 2 Tbsps lemon juice, 7 cups of sugar (the same) and 2 packages of liquid pectin (3 oz each). The method would be the same. – karen

  3. Liz says:

    My sister once spat chewing gum in my hair giving rise to my childhood nickname of “tufty”. Traumatic.

    That jam looks yummity. Ugh, hungry.

  4. Langela says:

    If a jar seems like it might not be sealing, you can turn it upside down or put a thick towel on top to keep the heat in a little longer in hopes it will come around.

    I will admit that I was the mean sister. When I think back to my childhood, I don’t know why my sisters didn’t gang up on me and kill me. They’re still wondering, too.

    I’ve never tried this, but I read a strawberry jam recipe yesterday that used butter in the final step to keep it from foaming. I have never tried this, but I think I might go get some strawberries so I can try it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Langela! Thanks for the tip. I wish I’d had it 2 days ago when 2 of my jars didn’t seal! Actually 4 didn”t want to seal so I shoved them in the oven at 210 until they warmed up quite a bit. I took them out and 2 sealed almost immediately while 2 just decided they were not under any circumstances going to seal. Could have tried the towel trick. Instead I will try the eating trick.

      • Langela says:

        Just a question since you can see them all now. Are the ones that didn’t seal maybe a little less filled than the others? I always wonder, but not until I have put them all away and don’t know which ones struggled.

        • Karen says:

          No, they seem to be the same. I always have 1 or 2 that don’t seal. Plus I did a double batch (you can’t double the recipe, you have to do 2 separate batches) so 1 for each batch is about right for me with jam! 🙂 My tomatoes in the fall seem to have a better sealing ratio.

  5. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    Karen, can I just tell you how much I look forward to reading your new posts??? They are my daily addiction (or whenever you post them) and start my day off as it should — with lots of laughs and big smiles. I love ya, kid.

    • Karen says:

      Sherry! Thanks so much. It makes me very happy to hear you say that. I can’t cure cancer or fix the oil spill. But I can make people laugh … and that’s somethin’. 🙂

  6. Lynne says:

    Karen,
    My sister ruined my barbies!
    I had one special doll who’s hair would grow when you gently pulled the pony tail & it seems she couldn’t make it go back. ‘Gee, maybe she won’t notice I was in her stuff if I cut it off??’

    She also poured an entire bottle of Neet hair remover on my head but that’s another story…it was more evidence to back up my theory that she was evil and should be destroyed!

  7. The skimmed foam is Cook’s Perk and contains no calories if eaten immediately.

    I once made a compote (less sugar) from a tray of white peaches and leftover redcurrants (we were camping and didn’t have a fridge), and it was AWESOME! got eaten within the holiday and I was crowned Queen of the Campsite.

    I. was. the. mean. sister. too… I love her now, and she has forgiven me.

    • Karen says:

      O.K. I should probably clarify before she kills me, that this is the only mean thing I can remember my sister (the painter) doing. Other than that time she she painted my whole dining room, front hall and living room and made me curtains as a surprise birthday present. I mean honestly. What’s wrong with a good old fashioned card and a phone call?

  8. Anj says:

    So is that what you do when you leave half your favourite body glove bathing suit on a cruise ship? At least you get to fondly look at your potholder and remember the neon 80’s.

    • Karen says:

      Liar! I did not leave it on the cruise ship .. it was scoffed by some weirdo at the ramshakle airport. Weirdo.

      • Heidi says:

        Speaking of which…when are you going to post on the Art of Winning the Cruise Ship Bikini Contest by Looking Angry and Flexing Your Muscles?…c’mon….we’re waiting!

        • Karen says:

          Hi Heidi!!!! Everyone … Heidi is the sister of one of my best friends Andrea. Please make her feel welcome. Years ago I went on a cruise with their family. I completely forgot about that bikini contest. Yes. It is true. I was in a bikini contest. You have never seen anyone so unimpressed to be in a bikini contest. Um … bikini contests aren’t “me”. I went on stage and flexed my muscles, looked disgusted to be there and skulked off. I won. Go figure. Welcome Heidi!

  9. I once did a very mean thing to my little brother about 15 years ago, too (your sister and I must have been on the same brain wave): My mother had baked THE perfect cowboy cookies, all salty and chocolaty and oatmealy. Cowboy cookies were my brother’s favorite, but that didn’t stop me from methodically picking up each one and slowly licking the top and bottom and all around the sides and then putting them back in the pan. He has a weird thing about spit, so it really killed his soul that I did that to him and he never ate another cowboy cookie again.

    Years later, he paid me back by staying skinny while I proceeded to, um, not.

    On a related note, that jam looks AWESOME. I don’t care how it tastes. It’s how it looks that really matters.

  10. Jessica says:

    Karen,
    I just found your website and have devoted hours to slavishly reading through past posts. You are a time sucker.

    Anyhoo, I just made jam last week with a friend, we used the recipe listed at this website for strawberry-pineapple jam (my favorite)and it was amazing: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/strawberry_pineapple_jam.php

    They actually make a pectin you can use that requires little to no sugar to be added to your jam (hence only 4 cups of sugar added in this recipe). They also have you boil your jam in a water bath for 5 minutes after it’s cooked – maybe this ensure that your jars will pop in the future?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica! Sorry for the time suck. 🙂 Yes, giving your jam a water bath is very popular, but since I made 15 jars of jam, 1 or 2 not sealing isn’t uncommon. I’m dedicated and devoted to finding the easiest, fastest, cheapest etc. etc. way to do things. I find keeping the bottles in the oven and boiling the rims is the best use of my time. So I can visit the time sucking blogs I enjoy. 🙂 By the way I am totally open to gifts in the form of jams or jellies or any food item really.

      • cat says:

        A water bath is actually recommended because it’s safer than the oven method that you describe. The jars seal better because air is expelled during processing and the heat kills some of the bacteria that might still be wandering around in your jars.

        Also when a jar breaks it tends to be in a vat of water rather than in your oven or on your feet…

        • Karen says:

          Hi Cat! Thanks. Yes, I know that technically the water bath is the preferred method, but my mother used the oven method so that’s what I use! It’s 10 times easier and other than the occasional unsealed jar, it’s smooth sailing.

  11. haha, that sounds so much like my sister and me. Good times……I mean, THEN it sucked but good now.

  12. flattireTuesday says:

    I didn’t know until today how desperately I need to make strawberry jam. It has nothing to do with prego hormones, I’m sure. I find myself *actually* missing making jam at home with my Mom… which is funny, because at the time I hated it and whined and wished I could be doing anything else…

    • Karen says:

      Ain’t it always the way? – karen

      • flattireTuesday says:

        I just finished my batch of jam. 😀 During the “stir constantly until boiling vigorously” I remembered why I hated and whined… now that my attention span is longer than the end of my pinky nail, I can cope. 😉

        -and ’cause I’m too lazy to dig it up and right on the actual antojito post, I made a bunch of antojito’s for a crowd. I had to tune the heat down (a real crime) because my heat tolerance seems to be higher than most Alberta born and raised around me, but they were still a huge hit. So your suffering was definitely worth it. In fact, if I may say so, I may have secured my sister a wedding ring. Her boyfriend said they had to be friends with me forever, because then I could make him antojito’s. (Okay, I may not have *quite* sealed the deal, due to her charm and good looks, but I’ll take what credit I’m due…) haha…

  13. jimmy says:

    Funny to the bone ..how do i make just ONE bottle of JAM – ok ok maybe 2….what changes do i make..

    • Karen says:

      Jimmy. Please prepare yourself for the bad news. Maybe get a cookie or something. O.K. Ready? You can’t make one jar of jam. Jam recipes can’t be cut in half or doubled. You have to make them as is. I’m not sure why but it’s the way the jam God’s have made it. Having said that, making 7 jars isn’t much more time consuming than making 1 or 2 jars. You’d be silly to make 1 or 2 in fact. Plus if you seal the jars properly like I’ve shown you the jam will last for ages. Professionals tell you a year but I’m sure they’d last a couple of years. You know your seal is good if when you open the jar you need a knife to slip under the seal to pop it off because the pressure is so great you can’t do it with your fingers. I think you should make 7 jars of jam Jimmy.

  14. Laura says:

    Hi!!!
    I’ve just found your blog, (on Design*Sponge) and I like it a lot!!
    You’re a very creative woman!
    Greetings from Italy!

  15. Stephanie Klopp says:

    You’re blog is friggin’ great! So great, in fact, that I’ve started reading it at work… all the time. Crap, boss is coming! Minimizing…

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Stephanie! I appreciate it. Even I think it’s pretty friggin’ great! Oooo. That sounds obnoxious doesn’t it? I DO like it though … so I’m so happy there are other people who like it too. Thanks again! – karen

  16. Pam'a says:

    The jam looks so …jammy and beautiful with the sunlight shining through it like that, Karen! And thanks for leaving that blob of jam on the counter while you took pictures, because nobody cooks anything without making a mess.

    But even more important, I had scars for years from MY mean sister! She was four years younger– That automatically made me the bad guy when I pounded her.

    One day my mom left us in the car while she ran into the grocery store (I know, I know, but this was a small town in the ’60s). Devil Sister found one of those teensy pencils that used to come with ads for magazine subscriptions. So of course, she clenched it in her chubby fist, cackled madly, and jammed it into the top of my head. I swear, I was just sitting there…

    Chaos ensued. I screamed like a stuck pig because, well, I sort of was. I could barely wait for Mom to come out, see all the blood in my hair, and rain her patented black fury on her.

    Which she probably did. But what I remember more was that she immediately saught medical care. At the veterinarian. Who happened to be my father, and was incredibly, disappointingly unsympathic (sniffle).

    It’s a miracle I’m still here to read your blog, which is the only one worth checking in on regularly, IMHO.

    • Karen says:

      Well that was a damn good story Pam’a! Love it. Any store that ends with a trip to the vet is a good one. Unless it’s my cat. Then it isn’t good at all, It’s sad and usually costly. Thanks for the blog compliments! Appreciate it! – karen

  17. Kate says:

    I just came across your blog today through Design Sponge too and have spent far too much of my work time this afternoon reading. It’s fantastic!

    I’ve been jamming for a few years now and have some tips.
    1. If you’re really lazy/cheap (as I am) you can actually eliminate the pectin altogether on berries or stone fruits. You might need to leave it boiling on the stove top a little longer, but you just wait and keep stirring every once and it’ll thicken right up. I think that with pectin it comes out a little more jelly, without it’s a little more preserves.

    2. To check consistency, put a glass plate in the freezer. When you think your jam is ready, put a little dollup on the plate and put it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Take it out. That’s the consistency it will be when it cools. If it’s not to your liking, keep on cooking.

    I’ve found the following rough guide always seems to work no matter what fruit I use:
    4 cups chopped fruit
    4 cups sugar
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  18. Leanne says:

    Your sister’s got berries. That jam looks delicious.

  19. Karen says:

    Karen,

    I just made these, but was wondering how long does it take for the “pop”?

  20. Karen says:

    Thanks Karen!

  21. Susan Claire says:

    Yes, I know I’m posting a comment four years after everybody else, but stumbled upon your website while fishing around for different jam recipes. I have been making jam and jelly for about fifteen years now, and to be honest the thrill is mostly gone, it has turned into a big old chore, but now when I make strawberry I will think of your mean sister story. If you send me your address I will send you some mulberry jelly that will make you swoon!

  22. Maie C Paulino says:

    I lost my Mom’s recipe & came across yours a few years ago. I can’t thank you enough for it. Step by step it is the best strawberry jam I’ve ever made. My grandchildren will only eat mine now, even the 2 year old, great grandson. Thank-you again for posting, & love your sister story. Marie

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