The lovely JamieAnne (from A Dash of Domestic) and I have put together a treat for you! What is it, you ask? A canning tutorial! I’ve tackled the sweet side of things with an all-purpose jam tutorial, and she’s giving you a great introduction to sour with dill pickles.

Now, this gift doesn’t come without some strings attached (okay, they’re optional strings). We want YOU to give canning a go! Twice a month we are going to arrange a linkup for those of you brave enough to…brave…canning. So get out your fruits or veggies, and start preserving. And let me know at allieelyse[at], or head over to JamieAnne’s and tell her so you can join in the fun two weeks from now!

Canned Fruit or Berry Jam

Step One: Get Your Basics

One giant pot for water. This pot needs to be big enough for your jars plus one to two inches of covering water.

Canning jars, lids and rings.

If you want to go all out, buy canning tongs, funnels and a canning rack for your pot. All of this stuff is pretty darn cheap (and can often be found at thrift stores–even cheaper!), so if you try a small batch and like the process–go for it! If you don’t have this stuff, no fear. Get MacGyver and re-purpose some existing kitchen stuff.

Step Two: Get Your Ingredients

Basic Recipe for Jam

This is what you need for each 12 oz jam jar, so multiply it by the number of jars you want to fill!

  • 2 cups chopped fruit or berries (I’ve used peaches)
  • 1 1/2Β  T low or no-sugar pectin
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup water (or unsweetened juice)
  • 1 T sweetener (sugar, agave, maple syrup or honey for the non-vegan folk)

Don’t have peaches? Substitute your fruit (or berries/fruits) of choice and make some delicious combinations! You can use the fruit juice option to add in funky flavors, too. Only have fresh pears and guava juice? Suddenly you have pear-guava jam! How gourmet. And don’t worry about chopping all your fruit/mashing your berries into tiny pieces–bigger chunks add great texture, flavor and looks to your final product.

Also note that getting the low/no sugar pectin is very important–if you can’t find it, look for an alternative recipe with higher sugar content.

Step Three: Assemble Your Ingredients.

  • Combine your chopped peaches (or fruit of choice) with water/juice and lemon juice in a large pan.
  • Gradually stir in your pectin.
  • While stirring constantly, bring to these ingredients to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
  • Add your sweetener, and return all ingredients to the full boil for one minute.
  • Remove from heat.

Step Four: Sterilize!

Every must be sterilized, and everything should be warm to hot. The easiest way to do this is to send your jars (but not your lids!) through the dishwasher, and dip all your equipment and the lids and rings into boiling water. While everything (peach mixture included) is still warm, bring the water in your giant pot to a boil and get to cannin’!

Step Five: Fill ‘Er Up!

  • Fill your jars with your peach/pectin mixture, leaving a 1/4 of space at the top
  • Poke around the edge of the jar with a knife or chopstick to get out any air bubbles
  • Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet paper towel, making sure the rim is clean
  • Set the lid on top, and put the band on tightly

Step Six: Preserve!

  • Put your jars into your (gently) boiling pot of water. If you have a jar rack, use it! If not, make sure your jars will remain relatively stable and won’t knock into each other too much throughout the boiling process.
  • Let the jars boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit the water for another 5 (this timing varies with altitude, for you high livin’ folk).
  • Remove the jars and let them sit. Give them 24 hours to seal (they’ll surprise you with a POP when they do!), and then check the seal (press on the lid–if it goes down, it hasn’t sealed. This isn’t a disaster–just put your jam in the fridge and eat it within a few weeks).

You Have Jam!

Canning is fun and rewarding, the final product is gorgeous, it is a delicious way to save garden/farmer’s market goodness for winter (or next week, if you have as much patience as I) and you know exactly what is in it (no fake preservatives! Low sugar! Low sodium!). So go check out JamieAnne’s post, start canning and be ready to join us in two weeks!