This past weekend was the first day of strawberry picking season. C, G, and I had a plan. We were going to get there right at the start so that we didn’t miss a single berry. We set the alarm, woke up at 6:30, and were off to grab another anxious friend of C’s to head to Weaver’s Orchard for their 7 a.m. pick start. It was the new Black Friday for the Blakesley family. Running a little late (as is our M.O.), we rolled into the parking lot at 7:10 and the fields were already filled with pickers. We were given a row and off we went. The kids had strawberry stained faces after and we had buckets and boxes of strawberries…success.
Of course, we had a busy fun filled weekend ahead of us so I washed the strawberries and let them dry on the counter when we arrived home. A boatload of strawberries sitting there as one by one little hands would reach onto the counter top and smuggle one away into their mouths. I couldn’t just let them all sit there, the urge to start canning after writing my Get Ready for Canning Season post was killing me so off I went to get the big waterbath pot. And off I went canning Strawberry Rhubarb jam…in mom mode.
Now, with three kids running around, it doesn’t always lend itself to a nice relaxing coherent canning experience BUT it can be done gracefully still AND, the end result…always the same; a gorgeous jar of canned jam that you can use throughout the year to come or give as a gift.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam – Mom-Style
inspired by PickYourOwn.org
6 cups of cut strawberries (they will be in large chunks when measuring)
4 cups chopped rhubarb
8 Tbsp Classic Pectin ( I use a bit more pectin than most other recipes. I do not like a runny jam:)
4 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
6 3/4 cup sugar
**For supplies, check out my post on Getting Ready for a Season of Canning. For this recipe I used the 4 oz. Ball jars.
(with some tricks for canning around the kiddos)
1. Sanitize your jars (just the glass part). I do this in the dishwasher, running them on the sanitize cycle with other dishes. This can be done hours ahead, just don’t open the door to the dishwasher until you are ready to use the jars, keeping them warm and clean.
2. Wash and hull your strawberries and wash your rhubarb (if you haven’t already). This step can be done ahead of time. I like to do it during the kids busy time of the day. My older two loved to be involved in this process so they help now, but H can be running around while I am doing this. It is a step that you can stop and start for sure!
3. Coarsely cut up the berries and rhubarb so that you can measure them appropriately.
4. Mash them up in a big pot! This is the fun part! After measuring out your berries and rhubarb, put them in a large stockpot and start mashing. I use a potato masher. The kids LOVE helping with this part! I mash until everything is mostly liquid. You will not get rid of ALL the chunks, especially when using rhubarb, but you will see mostly liquid. Most of the other chunks will boil down and soften up when you boil. There will still be some pieces in your jam. Personally I like it this way but if you would rather not have them, think about using a strainer.
5. Mix your pectin with 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
**A small note on pectin: PickYourOwn suggests using a no-sugar or reduced sugar pectin. I personally do not do that. To me, jam is filled with sugar. That is just how it is and we put such a small amount on things. This is the way I have always canned jam, so it is just what I do (though I would like to research alternative sweetener methods such as honey sometime). If you would like more information on a no-sugar or reduced-sugar pectin, PickYourOwn.org is a great resource!
FOR THE NEXT FEW STEPS – you will need about 25 minutes of quiet, focus time. It is great to do during a nap or an episode of Thomas possibly. You can always get up to this step and then bail for a little while until you are ready. Just set the crushed fruit aside and don’t open the dishwasher.
6. Take your lids and put in a small pot of water. If you notice the lids have a sticky type material around the rim of them. This will need to be softened up and the lids sterilized before using. Boil these lids (in a full rolling boil) for 5 minutes. Then do not remove them from the water until you are ready to use them. The water will stay warm and the sticky stuff softened while you are preparing the rest.
7. While your lids are boiling, mix the pectin mixture into your crushed fruit and bring to a full rolling boil. Stir often so as not to burn the bottom of the pot. When you are at a full boil, remove the pot from the heat.
8. PickYourOwn.org gives a great tip on how to tell when your jam is ready so in preparation for this, get a small bowl of water with an ice cube in it ready and a metal spoon in it.
9. Stir in your remaining 6 1/2 cups of sugar and place back on the heat. When this mixture is at a full rolling boil, start the timer and stirring continuously, boil for 1 minute and 15 seconds. (I always let it go a few seconds longer than most recipes because again, I don’t like a runny jam). Remove from the heat.
10. Foam – You will have a layer of foam on your jam. It won’t kill you SO if you want you can just stir it back in before scooping back in jars. If you don’t like the look of it, you can skim the layer off. Save it and put it on ice cream…YUM!
11. Take that metal spoon out of the water and get a half spoonful of jam on it. Let it cool to room temperature. That will be the consistency of your jam. If it is not how you like it, read on here about what you can do.
YOUR 25 MINUTES OF QUIET ARE UP!
12. All right, we are back in business with the kiddos. As time allows, preferably immediately, scoop your jam into your Ball jars leaving 1/4 inch head space for expansion. Make sure that if you do drip around the rim of the jar you wipe it clean. This allows the jars to seal properly. I then attach my lids and rings.
13. Grab your waterbath pot and fill with water. Bring to a rolling boil on the stovetop. If your stovetop is electric, this could take upwards of an hour. It is A LOT of water! Make sure you have at least 2 inches on top of each jar when submerged.
14. Place your cans in the bottom of the pot. This is the reason I love my waterbath canner, because of the wire frame that I place my jars in and simply drop in the bottom of the pot. Bring back to a rolling boil. Start the timer and boil for 10 minutes. PickYourOwn has a great explanation of why this may be a little overkill on the boiling time, but why it doesn’t matter, so make sure to read.
15. Remove your jars from the waterbath and set on a towel in a location that they can be for ~24 hours with being still. You will most likely hear a pop fairly soon after removing them from the bath. It is a good sign, it means they are sealing. Check them a bit after you take them out and they should all be sealed (you shouldn’t be able to pop the top). There are a few things you can do if that isn’t the case. I am fairly sure it has only happened once to us and that was just our first jar to eat.
16. Make some cute label, brag, and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this jam as much as I do and my family does!