Whether you're hoping to save a little cash by skipping a trip to the store or you want to whip up a delicious dish using fresh fruits from your own back yard, learning how to can fruit jam will allow you to use the bounty of your harvest for recipes and treats year-round.
Items you will need:
Sterilizing the jars
Before you begin to can your homemade fruit jam, prepare the jars for the canning process. First, take your water bath canner (a large pot specifically designed for canning; it contains a rack so your jars don't touch the bottom) and fill it with four to five inches of hot water. Bring the water to a boil. Next, carefully place your glass canning jars into the boiling water and sterilize them for five to 10 minutes. When the jars are sterilized, use the tongs to remove them from the boiling water and set them on a clean dish towel to cool and dry until your jam is ready to be canned.
Attach lids on properly
Once you've washed your fruit and removed any stems, seeds, pits or cores, continue following the recipe you've chosen for making jam. When your concoction is complete and the boiling jam has begun to thicken, insert a cooking thermometer into the mixture to ensure that it has reached a temperature of 220 degrees. Remove your jam from the heat, and pour it into your individual canning jars, leaving about a quarter-inch of space between the jam and the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of the jars off with a damp cloth to remove any excess water or condensation.
Take your canning lids (thin, metal lids with a rubber-edged rim that forms a seal) and place them onto the jars. Screw on the metal bands, twisting until they are fully sealed. Place the jars carefully back onto the rack at the bottom of the water bath canner, and fill the pot so that the jars are covered by approximately two inches of water. Bring the water to a boil once again to create a vacuum in the jars. This will seal the rubber-rimmed lids properly. After five minutes of boiling, remove the jars from the canner using the tongs. Be careful not to touch the jars, as they will be extremely hot.
Make sure lids have sealed
Allow the jars to cool for 24 hours. Remove the screw bands and check to make sure the lids have sealed to the tops of the glass jars. To test for proper sealing, push your finger down gently but firmly on the top of the lid. If you hear a slight popping sound or if the lid begins to dent, the jar hasn't been sealed correctly.
If you come across a jar or two where the lids did not seal successfully, refrigerate those jars of jam and use their contents within a two-week period. Take the jars that were sealed properly, label them with date and type of jam they contain, then store them in a cool, dry place.
You will now have plenty of homemade fruit jam that will allow you to enjoy an assortment of appetizing snacks, ranging from bagels and croissants to crackers and sandwiches.