Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Canning Series - Jam and Jelly

There is something about homemade jam or jelly that brings back memories of Mom in the kitchen in the summer.  We made all sorts of jams and jellies using strawberries and raspberries we raised in our garden, from the wild plums we gathered and from our apple trees.  I think the only flavor of jelly we bought was grape, and that was because we didn't have our own grape vines.

These days I make mostly jam from fruit bought in season, either at the grocery or the Farmers Market.  I use powdered Sure Jell in jam making.  Included in each box is a page of instructions for all the basic flavors, so I will not list all of those here.  I also don't make apple butter.  I probably would if I had my own apples, but it gets a bit spendy when I have to buy the apples.

I will mention that it is not a good idea to double jam recipes.  The last time I got in a hurry and tried that, I wound up with several jars of strawberry topping that was supposed to be strawberry jam.  Doubling the recipe causes the jam to fail to set up most times.

So here are some of the jams and jellies I make that are not the traditional flavors.

Apple Jam (Makes 8 half pint jars)

1 1/2 cups of water
5 cups of finely chopped apples (you can put it in the food processor)
1 Tbsp of butter (optional - to help keep down the foam)
1 box of pectin (or liquid pouch)
2 Tbsp of lemon juice
5 1/2 cups of sugar

Pour the water into a heavy saucepan, and add the butter, apples, pectin and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly add the sugar and return to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down; then boil, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

If preparing jam for the pantry, ladle into one hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Attach lid. Fill and close remaining jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

If preparing for freezer or refrigerator, ladle the jam into clean jars (or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace); apply lids. Let stand for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature; freeze or refrigerate.

Frozen Orange Juice Jelly
Yield: 6 Half Pint jars.

2 (6 oz.) cans frozen orange juice concentrate
2 1/2 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 pkg powdered pectin

Thoroughly mix orange juice concentrate with water and powdered pectin in a large saucepan.
Stir constantly over high heat until it begins to boil.
Immediately add sugar and stir well.
Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Skim, pour into jars.  Fill to within 1/2 inch of top.
Put on cap, screw band firmly tight.
Process in Boiling Water Bath 5 minutes.

Kool-Aid Jelly

1 package Kool-Aid, any flavor (no sugar added)
1 package Sure-Jell
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water

Mix water, Sure-Jell and Kool-Aid together.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar. Stir and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a large metal spoon. Pour into jelly jars.  Process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.

Note:  I have made this using cherry, raspberry and black cherry flavored Kool-Aid.  All were good tasting.

Quick Grape Jelly  (Yield: about 5 half-pints.)

3 cups bottled grape juice
1 package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar

Combine grape juice and pectin in a large sauce pot.
Bring mixture to a rolling boil.
Stir in sugar and return to a rolling boil.
Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Skim foam if necessary.
Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4th inch headspace.
Process 5 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I have not made this next one, but I am including the recipe just because it sounds really good and I plan to make some this summer.

Spiced Tomato Preserves  (Makes 5 half pints)      

3 c. prepared tomatoes (2 1/4 lb.)
1/4 c. lemon juice
4 1/2 c. sugar
1 box sure-jell fruit pectin
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Scald, peel and chop tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Measure 3 cups into a 6 or 8 quart sauce pot. Add lemon juice, grated lemon rind, allspice, cinnamon and ground cloves to tomatoes. Add a bit of butter (about 1/2 tsp) here, if using, to reduce foam. Measure sugar and set aside.

Stir sure-jell fruit pectin into prepared tomatoes. (Sauce pot must be no more than 1/3 full to allow for a full rolling boil.) NOTE: The Sure-Jell folks suggest mixing the pectin with some of the sugar (like the odd 1/2 cup) to insure a better mix and adding that small amount of sugar/pectin mixture in at the beginning of the cooking process.

Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. All at once stir in sugar. Stir and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Then boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Skim off foam with large metal spoon. Immediately ladle into hot clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch space at top. With a damp cloth, wipe jar rims and threads clean.

Immediately cover jars with lids. Screw bands on firmly. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

I'm also including the following recipe for chokecherry jelly, even though it has been more years than I care to remember since I have made it.  When I lived in northern Minnesota, the woods behind my house had an abundance of chokecherry trees that were loaded with the tiny cherries late in the summer.  It took lots and lots of chokecherries to make a batch of jelly, but the result was so worth the effort.

Chokecherry Jelly

Wash the fruit in cool running water.
Add water to cover the chokecherries.
Bring to a boil in a covered stainless steel or enamel kettle and then simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft.
Cool and strain through cheesecloth or a damp jelly bag.

Note:  When extracting juice from chokecherries, DO NOT crush the seeds. These seeds contain a cyanide-forming compound which can cause illness or death if eaten in large amounts.

Chokecherry Jelly Recipe

3 cups chokecherry juice
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 box pectin

Pour juice into large heavy saucepan. Add sugar and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam for 5 minutes. Pour jelly into hot, half-pint jars to 1/4 inch of top and seal with two-piece canning lids.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Back when I was making chokecherry jelly, maybe 40 years ago, we never used canning lids for jam or jelly.  We poured the jam into jelly jars and let them cool.  Then we melted paraffin wax and poured a layer of the wax on top to seal the jars.  It worked, except once in a great while the wax would come loose from the inside wall of the jar and a thin layer of mold would form on top of the jam.  We just scraped the mold off and ate the jam anyway.  Nowdays there are those who would have an instant case of the vapors at the thought of such things.  I guess we were a lot tougher then, and a lot poorer, so we didn't waste a jar of jam just because of a bit of mold on top.  :)


  1. I still remember my grandmother and mom using wax to seal the jam jars and like your family we wasted nothing. What's a little mold anyways - just unprocessed penicillin, right?

    I remember as kids we would take that wax and chew it like gum. That was a treat for us.

  2. Jim...People were preserving the harvest long before the government started telling us how it should be done. I have read cookbooks from the late 1800s and on into the early 1900s, telling about methods of canning, and even though most folks would shudder at how things were done back then, the fact remains that those methods worked. If I could no longer get canning lids, I would have no problem going back to sealing jam jars with wax. Because it worked.

    I remember as a kid chewing the wax like gum, and it was treat for us, too. :)

  3. Here's the recipe for Rhubarb bars:
    Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9X9 pan.
    2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup wheat flour (I use all white)
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    3/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp all spice
    3 eggs
    1 cup oil
    1 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    2 tsp vanilla
    4 cup rhubarb - rough chop,I like it a bit chunky
    3/4 cup walnuts, chopped ( I omit this)
    Sift all dry ingredients together in one bowl.
    In another bowl, mix wet ingredients and beat until fluffy.
    Add dry ingredients to wet and combine until just moist.
    Fold in rhubarb and nuts. Spoon batter into pan.
    Bake 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean in the center.
    Make sure to do the toothpick test as I've skipped this and under cooked the bars.
    SJ in Vancouver BC

  4. Thank you, SJ...That sounds really good. I will make some in the spring when I can get ahold of some rhubarb. I know if Oldest Son smells them baking, the pan will be empty in no time!