Water Bath Canning for Beginners: Blackberry Jam
Have you ever bottled sunshine?
No of course not, but just a taste of blackberry jam come midwinter and you’ll feel like you have.
It’s the essence of all things summertime just sitting in the root cellar waiting to be opened some dark night huddled around the wood stove. It’s sweet and juicy and definitely not healthy but it’s one of those good for the soul kind a foods.
The best part is that even if you’re a total canning novice it’s really not difficult to make. Not at all.
On with it! Right? Well here’s what you’ll need:
4 cups of crushed blackberries (raspberries could be substituted)
6 1/2 cups of sugar (that’s where those emergency phone calls for sugar come in)
1 pouch of liquid pectin
The equipment you will need includes 5 to 8 half pint canning jars with new lids and bands (or jars of your choice) and a water bath canner (a rack and large pot). Optional but extremely useful equipment includes a canning jar lid magnet, canning jar tongs, and a funnel. You can get all these things in a ball canning kit like we did here.
Boil all your jars and rings (not lids though) in your water bath canner for 10 minutes. You can remove the lids and set them on a clean towel but many people choose to keep the jars simmering until ready to use. Placing hot jam into cold jars could cause them to crack.
**Pro tip: Tie all your lids on a cotton string and then loop the string over one of the canner handles so they’re easy to retrieve from the boiling water. You can thank Pilgrim from Stone Axe Herbals for that piece of advice.
Rinse if needed and then crush your berries. I use a potato masher to crush mine though your could use a food processor just be careful not to puree them. How much your crush them is all personal preference. I like mine pretty chunky.
Making the jam
Measure your berries and simmer while stirring in the 6 1/2 cups of sugar. I like to measure the sugar out into a separate container first so I have it all ready.
Once the sugar is incorporated bring the mixture to a hard boil (it should not stop bubbling when you stir it) then you can add you liquid pectin. Bring the mixture back to a boil and boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.
Remove jam from heat and jars from canner. Using the funnel and a ladle fill the jars leaving a 1/2 inch of head space. Don’t rush but you want to do this fairly quickly before the jam sets up.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth before putting on lids and rings. This is an important step! Dirty jar rims could affect the seal. Screw on rings finger tight.
Using the jar tongs so you don’t burn yourself place all your filled jars back in the canner. You made need to add or remove some water. It should be 2 inches above the top of the jars.
Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
**Note if you’re using larger jars they will need to be in the canner longer. Sometimes I use pints and can them for 15 minutes.
Remove your jars from the canner and let them sit overnight. You will probably here the jars seal fairly quickly after they come out but I like to let mine sit overnight before removing the rings.
Removing the rings may seem silly but if you don’t they can rust or create a false seal. You should be able to lift your jars by holing the lid without the ring on.
If you have jars that didn’t seal you can re-can them using a new lid.
- Use a bigger pot than you think you’ll need to cook the jam. It bubbles up a lot more than you’d think.
- Some people say to skim the foam off before putting your jam in jars. I don’t but it might make it look a little prettier if you want to.
- Don’t forget to label your jars after they’re done! I just write on the lids with a sharpie.
Don’t forget to to take a breath and enjoy your jam!
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