How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

I’m ever so happy to see you today. Grab a cup of coffee and join me in the kitchen for our beginner canning tutorial.

Okay, so you’ve tried your little test batch, adjusted the sugar and are ready to can like crazy. Just wait ’til you open one of your long term storage jars on some blustrous winter morning. All the tastes of Summer. Yum!

Here were the first steps, in case you missed them:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

Here we go:

1. Wash everything.

Every pot, spoon, tong, tool, jar, dome lid and band. Plus, every surface you might possibly use.

2. Place mostly dried jars, on their sides, in a slow oven ( 200 degrees Fahrenheit ) for one hour to sterilize a load of jar at once.

3. Meanwhile place all the tools, dome lids and bands in a pot of water no cooler than 180 degrees Farenheit for no less than 15 minutes.

3a. Set stock pot of water for water bath on high so it comes to a boil just before, your jars go into it. Yeah, this can take a while.

4. Make the jam of your choice.

5. After you skim any foam from the surface, pour the wicked hot jam into jars, using a canning funnel to keep things clean. This is called hot packing.

6. Using the magnetic lid lifter, place a dome lid on each hot jar.

7. Using the magnetic lid lifter to remove the bands from the scalding water, place them over each band.

8. Dip your hands in a giant bowl of ice water for a moment and screw on each band. Use a jar wrench to tighten, if you have one.

Note: If you have delicate hands, you may need to thrust your hands back into the icewater between each jar you tighten.

9. Place the jars into the boiling water bath.

Note: there should either be a canning rack or a bunch of band lids on the bottom of the water bath to prevent the jars from directly touching the bottom of the pot. Also, there should be at least 1 inch of water above the tops of the jars.

10. Process for 15 minutes.

Yup, that just means leave the jars in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Altitude adjustment: For every 1000 ft. you are above sea level, add 1 minute.

So for example: I live at 1050 ft. so I process my jam for 16 minutes. High Mountain Muse probably processes hers for a year and a half way up there on her mountain top.

11. Using the jar lifters, take the jars out of the water and set them to cool on whatever clean flat surface is left.

12. As the jars cool listen for that delightful popping sound of each jar sealing. You can tell it is sealed when you run your finger over the dome lid and it has sucked down. Man, that is a satisfying sound!

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a rainbow of sparkly jams all set to nourish your family until next canning season.

Now, who’s baking the biscuits?


How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

Well, hello there. I’m so glad you could join me today. Grab a cup of coffee and join me in the kitchen as we discuss the canning supplies nescessary for processing your fresh, delicious jams

Because fruits are high in acid they can safely canned for long term storage using the water bath method.

Here’s what you’ll need:

canning jars (reusable )

dome lids (the flat part of the lid — not reuseable)

bands (the screw on part of the lid — is reusable)

a deep sauce or stock pot ( non aluminum/ non reactive ) depending on the batch size — by the time I am using a recipe with 4 cups of crushed fruit or more, I use the stock pot.

Another large stock pot ( for the boiling water bath) — you want a pot big enough to hold all the jars of a single batch without the jars being jammed in. Plus, enough room to cover the jar with about an inch or two of boiling water.

With the stock pot water bath method, you will need something to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot. I have found that lining the bottom of the pot with band lids, laying/lying (?) flat works beautifully for this

If you actually have a canner, make sure to use the rack provided.

A canning set — inexpensive and you’ll have it for life — includes funnel, jar wrench, lid lifter, tongs and jar lifter.

Yes, you can do the whole process with just tongs, but, oh my ,how those other things help. I don’t think I could do anywhere near my current volume without the jar lifter, funnel or jar wrench. With just tongs you are far more likely to drop your beautifully canned goodies or worse burn the tar out of yourself.

Get everything well cleaned in hot sudsy water and then we will discuss the process itself. It’s very easy. Organization and cleanliness are the key.

So get scrubbing and meet me back here in a bit and we’ll can.

Any canners out there, did I forget anything. Please feel free to add you hints and tips.

Here are the other articles in this series, in case you missed them:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pecti

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

Strawberry, blueberry, currant, raspberry, blackberry,boysenberry, loganberry, gooseberry, ad infinitum. This is the basic any-berry method.

Simple jam made without store bought pectin requires only three ingredients: fruit, sugar, lemon juice. Simple and inexpensive, particularly if you are growing your own fruit.

Making your own preserves is one of those projects that you end up saying, ” Wow! I didn’t know it was that simple.” It is.

You could use store bought pectin like Certo or Sure-jell, but here are a few reason not to.

1. Using store-bought pectin drive up the cost per serving. Alot.

2. Contrary to a what a popular jam site says, using store bought pectin requires more sugar than basic country jam. More sugar, more expensive, less healthy.

Do let’s dive in.

Strawberry jam, blueberry jam, raspberry jam, any berry jam.


1 cup of crushed fruit

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice


1. Crush the fruit.

Some recipes will try to encourage you to throw the fruit in a blender or food processor. Don’t. The resulting jam ends up with a very hollow flavor.

Crush the fruit with a potato masher or even a super clean soup can to extract all that fresh berry flavor.

2. Stir all the ingredients together in a ridiculously large non-aluminum (non-reactive) pot.

These days most modern pots are not aluminum.

For this particular recipe, I would use the deepest sauce pot I own. Not quite a stock pot, but nice and deep.

Why such a big pot?

Well, as you bring the jam to a boil, it will froth up like crazy. Even as much as 3 times its original volume.

3. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.

Watch it. If the jam is going to boil over, this is the time. Some people add a teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming, but I have a use for the foam so I never add butter. Your choice.

4. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Stop stirring.

Reduce the heat so the the bubbles keep coming up, but nothing too furious.

Some people stir through the whole process. I don’t. You want to occasionally draw the spoon through to be sure your not burning the bottom. But if you stir the whole time, you are reducing the temperature and increasing the cooking time. I am just to busy for that silliness.

However, if you are terrified of burning it and this is your first time, there is a comfort to stirring constantly. Your choice.

4. As the jam starts to thicken, test for sheeting.

“Test for what?!”

All right, now settle down.

Sheeting is simply the name for how the jam appears as it drips off the spoon.

I use a non-slotted metal spoon. Scoop up some of the boiling jam and slowly dump it back in. It is the last little bit that you are going to watch.

As the jam is just starting out, you will notice that it drips off the spoon in several places.

When the jam is ready it will “sheet.” The drips will pull towards one another to make a more gloppy big drop. As the drops pull towards one another that gooey bit of jam between them is the “sheet.”

I will try to capture a picture of in the next couple of weeks as strawberries come into season here.

6. Remove from heat and skim off the foam.

Using a large metal stirring spoon skim the foam off the top of the jam. Most people dump it, but I reserve it for another goodie.

Time to make a decision.

Are you going to eat it in the next couple if weeks or would you like to can it for much later?

Today, I will assume you are going to eat this first delicious attempt. A post on processing will follow.

If you are going to eat it relatively soon or you are testing the sugar content (more on this later,) simply pour it into any clean glass or pottery container. Not plastic, ’cause it just might melt. If you let the jam cool in the pot a bit, a clean sour cream container would work fine. Pop it in the frig. You are done.

Now, who is going to do the dishes?


Too sweet or too tart– everyone has different tastes plus every year the berries are slightly different. Try this recipe then increase or decrease the sugar from there. I usually find this a bit sweet for my strawberries, but better with strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry. Don’t be afraid to play with it. That is how you learn to make the best jam.

Yes, the more little batches you make the better you will get.

Too runny — it wasn’t cooked long enough. Call it a “sauce” and use it on waffles or over ice cream. My first jam experience resulted in 6 pints of blueberry sauce. It was delicious.

What to do with the skimmed off foam:

Fold it into whipped cream to ice a cake.

Mix it with cream cheese to make a delicious fruit dip.

Fling it at your enemies. It sticks!

Smear it onto waffles immediately and invite me over.

Frugal Berry sources:

Inexpensive jam doesn’t come from store bought berries. Here are some other ideas.

Your garden

Farmers’ Market — especially just at closing time. You just might be able to strike a good deal, because the farmer wants to unload them and not take them back to the farm

Pick-your-own — check for local U-pick places by calling your county extension agent or try these links:

Pick Your



Other beginning canning tutorials:

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Strawberry Lemonade

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pectin

What are you going to try?

Any problems or questions?

You’re Eating WHAT from the Lawn?! — A Quick Quiz

What are these four food found in my front lawn?

What are these 4 foods found in my front lawn?

Here’s the deal. Name as many as you can and offer at least one use for each.

Serious and silly answers are welcome.

As this will launch a series of adventures, if you have an actual recipe using any of the above as a main ingredient, please e-mail it to That way you can get credit and be a featured recipe in the neighborhood.

Go ahead, guess! I double dog dare you.

(Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and heads out to pick a zillion of “C” for an upcoming recipe.)

Note: 5/8/09 — Oh, I am very entertained!  Get your guesses in.  Answers will be in this Saturday morning edition of “Neighborly Advice.”   Tomorrow’s theme is “Neighborhood Gone Wild”

BTW, forgive the picture, it will not stop raining here.  Lighting is terrible.

Hint — the stem on “B” is square.

Making Do: How To Make A Double Boiler

Left: store bought double boiler. Right: homemade version that works just as lovely.

Left: store bought double boiler. Right: homemade version that works just as lovely.

Hello there!

So, you bumped into a recipe that calls for using a double boiler and your stuck. hm…

Yes, they can be expensive. And no you probably shouldn’t try that recipe without one. Usually by the time a recipe actually calls for a double boiler, it is sensitive enough to need one.

Here’s what to do:

Grab a relatively small sauce pot and find a heat safe bowl that will fit on top of it. When you fill the bottom ( the boiler part of you double boiler ) make sure that the water line is well below the bowl as it sits on top. It is the steam or heat from the water that warms the bowl and not the actual water.

I have functioned without a double boiler for years. Only recently did I receive one as a Christmas gift. While it is very nice, it tends to live in the back of the cabinet. If I am in a rush, I still just plop a bowl on top of whatever pot is closest at hand.

If you require a lid, any one that fits is fine or just try placing a plate on top.

Making do made easy. Tada!

BTW, you’ll need a double boiler for tonight’s Great Depression Recipe: Rhubarb Tapioca.

Sour Dough Starter Tutorial

Thanks to Rhonda, a dear reader, for the great tutorial that follows. Her sour dough has been alive for years.

With bread prices on the rise (tacky pun fully intended. If a writer doesn’t intend a pun, they should use a dad-blasted thesarus. Sorry. Pet-peeve.)

Oh dear, where was I?

Ah yes, expensive bread. Making your own is a great alternative. However, yeast prices are no picnic either. So, sour dough it is. Once you get it going, your set. And there are ever so many thing you can do with it.

I do love expert advice.

Here it is, pasted directly from the e-mail

Hi Nancy,

Well, I finally found a few spare minutes to start this sourdough “recipe” (if you can call it that).

First of all, let me stress how important it is to use organic ingredients at least to start your starter to help your starter get a good start in life. Water needs to be non-chlorinated, and the fruit you use should be organic. Just bear with me. I use Bob’s Red Mill, but I live in the Pacific Northwest and his mill is local (less than 40 miles from my house). Grinding your own is good, too, if you have your own mill (the fresher the better). For water, please use filtered water or good tasting well water with no chlorination. Alternatively, you can buy good spring water from the grocery, or if your tap water tastes good, just set some out overnight (lightly covered with a kitchen towel to keep the bugs and dust out, the chlorine will dissipate over 24 hours). Don’t use metal with your sourdough, just a plain old wooden spoon will do just great.

So, you will need:

3 organic apples for juicing or a bunch of organic grapes
5 pounds organic wheat flour (either whole wheat or all-purpose)
2 pounds organic rye flour (rye is a traditional flour for starters… it just seems to really jump start your starter)

That’s it for ingredients. I will walk you through day-by-day… (all are estimates, depending on the “growing” conditions in your kitchen – I have a relatively cool house, 60 degrees during the day and about 68 in the evenings, you definitely do NOT have to keep your house at 85 degrees. )

DAY 1: Juice three fresh organic apples (or a bunch of organic grapes to equal about 1 cup juice), strain and place liquid in a partly covered jar or jug. (I use a quart canning jar with plastic wrap placed over the top, poke about 7-10 holes in the plastic with a toothpick).

DAYS 2-7: When the juice is obviously bubbly and fermented, pour it into a glass or ceramic (not metal), add 1 cup flour wheat flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, or a mixture of both) and ½ cup rye flour and leave, covered with plastic wrap poke with holes or in a loosely tied plastic bag.

DAYS 4-10: Add another 1 cup flour and ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water, mix well and leave on your counter. At the end of day 10 (or before 10 days), there should be visible bubbles in the mixture, but if not, no worries, your starter is just taking its time and developing some lovely flavors for you. Don’t stress out over this, it is NOT brain surgery or rocket science, think of it as a garden, some seeds just take longer to germinate is all.

DAY 11: Add another 1 cup of flour (again, white or wheat), ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water. Stir and leave on the counter, loosely covered.

DAY 12: Discard half the mixture and add another 1 cup of wheat flour, ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup flour, stir and leave on the counter as before.

DAY 13 AND BEYOND: Repeat the above every day until your starter is alive and jumping. You will know this because the starter will rise up the sides of the bowl in between feedings and will start to smell sharp and cidery (before you stir it down it might smell like alcohol – this is just fine, it is a by-product of the yeasts and bacteria “breathing”). If you feel the need to get the starter going more quickly, feed it twice a day. I know this seem a little wasteful, but you will only be throwing it away (put it on your compost pile) for only a few days. When it doubles in the container in less than 24 hours we are ready to make some bread, cake, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, et cetera.

The starter as it gets mature, after it sits for a day or two will usually develop a layer of liquid on the top. It will range in color from clear to gray to black. Any of these colors are just fine, this is called “hooch” and is normal. If, though, you see a pink or red color on the top of your starter, just throw it out and start over again. Usually if you keep your starter fed and happy you will not have off colors or smells.

Seems like a lot of work, but it is more like a pet, you have to feed it, water it, and clean up after it, but the end result is beautiful, yummy baked goods, and no more reliance on the grocery store for that expensive dried yeast.

Nancy, next week I will walk you through your first loaf of bread and give you some ideas as to how to use up those discards. I will also teach you how keep your sourdough happy and how to store it in the refrigerator. I use my starter three to four times a week, so I don’t usually keep it in the fridge, but when I go on vacation, I cold sore it, either in a really cold root cellar or in the refrigerator.

Hope this is helpful, if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail.

Sorry, no pictures; that is a little out of my comfort zone. 🙂

Gotta go, my sourdough is calling me, she’s hungry and ready to help me make some lovely waffles for tomorrow morning.


Well, I don’t know about you, but I fully intend to hold her to the further sour dough lessons.

Feel free to ship question to me and I will bundle them and forward them to our new beloved expert.

Thanks Ronda!

Who wants to go with me to her house for waffles? I have a gallon of maple syrup from this years harvest to bribe our way in the front door.

Grilling Quick Tip: How To Tell the Temperature of Your Fire

Oh, good. I was hoping you would stop by today.

I wanted to share this tip with you.

Grill Temperature

Hold your hand about 5″ above the cooking surface. Count how many seconds you can hold it there comfortably.

1 to 2 seconds = high flame or hot

4 to 5 seconds = medium flame or medium heat

8 to 10 seconds = low flame or low heat

Now, who brought the Teriyaki Beef Kabobs?

Visit “Neighborly Advice” weekend magazine full of beginner “how-to” articles”

Neighborly Advice Vol. 1 pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol. 2kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3. –grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite nation wide book sale

Hard Boiled Egg Recipes: Simple Deviled Eggs Appetizer

So, there seem to be an awful lot of very colorful hardboiled eggs in your fridge. What are you going to do with them all?

Well, yes, I do have a few ideas. How about we start with…

Deviled Eggs


6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled

1/2 teaspoon.dry mustard or 2 Tablespoons of prepared mustard.

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch onion powder

light pinch pepper (white pepper will disappear better)

Salad dressing or mayonnaise, enough to moisten into a light paste

1 teaspoon chili sauce (optional)

paprika garnish


1. Slice each egg in half lengthwise (top to bottom)

2. Gently remove the yolk from the white.

Be careful not to tear the white.

3. In a small bowl mash the yolks with the mustard, onion powder, salt, pepper and chili sauce.

4. Mix in just enough salad dressing or mayonnaise to make a light paste.

5. Spoon a little of the yolk mixture into hollow of each egg white.

For a nicer appearance, squeeze into each egg white hollow using a patry bag with a star tip.

6. Sprinkle with paprika.

7. Chill

8. Arrange on a bed of lettuce to serve on a chilled plate.

My father begs for these every Summer, complaining that no one ever makes them anymore. Poor Pop. One of these days…

Other hard boiled egg recipes:

Eggs Goldenrod — Main dish

After Easter Casserole — Main dish

Shu’s Pickled Eggs — Snack from King Biscuit Pants

(Neighbor Nancy changes her kitchen apron for her grimy garden on and flies out the door with a bang)

Sour Dough Challenge: Batch 1 R.I.P.

I missed it! I actually missed it.

The recipe said wait 48 hrs. So when it was bubbly and foamy last night, I should have used it. But it said to wait so I did.

It stopped bubbling and went flat.

I stirred it. Waited. Nothing.

Fed it with more flour and sugar. Waited. Nothing.

I have killed my sour dough starter.

No Oregon Sour Dough Starter for me.

Tomorrow, I begin again.

Rest in peace, stinky dough starter. You were fun while you bubbled.

Well, at least I’m learning. New kitchen adventures can be so scary sometimes.

How has yours been doing?

Did you miss it? Bake with it? Refrigerate it for another day?

Sour Dough Challenge: Waitin’ and Peekin’

Good morning. I’m so glad you could join me today.

Grab a cup of coffee and a warm muffin from the basket and join me to peek at how the sour dough starter is coming.

Well, I lifted the cloth to take a peek. It almost has the smoothness you might see in a brand new tub of cottage cheese. Almost lumpy, but still flat. Okay, and beige, instead of white.

Also there is a bit of liquid on the surface, slightly brownish in color. Anyone know if that’s okay? I mean the color of the liquid.

Most importantly, it smells like yeast. I didn’t stir it (am I supposed to or not?), but did move it to a warmer location in the living room, I noticed the area it was in for about 7 hours was around 72 degrees instead of the recommended 85.


Dear Santa,

I have tried to be a very good girl and would like a camera for Christmas.


Anybody have any thoughts on what I’m seeing?

Did you start yours?

If so what is going on with it?

If you have a picture, please e-mail it. So I can put it in the next post.

At 23 Hours: Okay, everything is beige and bubbly. It now looks how I thought it might. I have had a beast of a time keeping the darn thing warm enough. Temp came down, stopped bubblin’. Temp at 85, happy starter. Very strange creature is this sour dough. I guess we will see tomorrow night.

Gave it a little stir since it looked a little… separated.

At 29 hours: Beautiful beige whipped cream that you are blowing bubbles in with a straw.

Post mortem note:

There, right there at 29 bubbly, frothy hours. That is where I should have used it or refrigerated it.

(Neighbor Nancy ties on her black apron to mourn the death… or perhaps, murder of her lovely sour dough starter.)