Preserving food is at the heart of homesteading. There are many ways to preserve food but canning is one that many of us think of when we think of putting food up.
Jams and jellies are among one of the easiest to do for beginners. They do not require a pressure canner, only a water bath and the possiblities for recipes are as endless as the canners who have made them.
Because there are such a wide variety of recipes, we can’t even begin to recommend the best way but we can recommend a few basics and refer you to the best resources.
First, the difference between jam and jelly. In jelly, you are canning a thickened fruit juice. Jelly is smooth and often clear. Jam, has fruit pulp or crushed fruit in it. In our home, we prefer jam but sometimes there is juice leftover fromthe jam-making process, we can this into jelly.
Follow your recipe! Canning is science, the recipe matters.
For most jams and jellies, a half-pint (8oz) or smaller jars are used. Never use larger jars than your recipe suggests.
Always wash fruits under cold running water. Do not soak them. Some fruit tends to retain water that will affect the outcome.
If you don’t want to add as much sugar as the recipe suggests, find another recipe that specifically meets your goals.
If you are using juice from a bottle, use only unsweetened, no calcium-added juice.
Get a food mill if you like seedless jams. You can press the fruit through it and leave the seeds behind.
We recommend the National Center for Home Preservation for all things canning and preserving. Fermenting, smoking, curing, pickiling, freezing, and drying too!
We also suggest Ball’s site for information on canning.
Have you ever canned anything? What were the results?