Skip to main content

We hope you like jammin' too

Last week my husband and I, and a good friend, made a lot of jam. We picked the fruits and berries ourselves, and stayed up late two nights to get everything properly processed. Now we have stacks of cute jars to use all year and give as gifts for any occasion. For this post, I decided to write the six steps to a fun and successful jam-making experience.

  1. Pickin' Find a local u-pick farm, a neighborhood berry patch (blackberries grow in abandoned lots and along alleys all over the Pacific NorthWest), or grow your own. I had a hard time figuring out where to go at first, but found a helpful website. My friend and I picked cherries for less than two hours, and got over 30 pounds of cherries! Then we had to pit them all, ugh. Picking is very enjoyable when you're chatting with a friend, and taking time to appreciate the beautiful bounty around you. We also made pepper jelly with peppers that we grew, which is extra satisfying.

  2. Preparin' Get your fruits ready to cook. For cherries or anything with a large seed or pit, that means lots of time staining your hands fruity-colored and giving yourself carpal tunnel syndrome. It was fun for the first hour or so. Then I excused myself from the drudgery to nurse sweet pea, and my husband and friend completed the task. Yes, caring for a baby is a great excuse to get out of other boring work. The easiest berry that we jammed was raspberry, and blueberry was a close second. For these, all you need to do is wash them and make sure there are no stems, flowers, or leaves in the bowl. Be sure to eat as many fruits and berries as you can at this stage!

  3. Cookin' This is the part that requires a recipe, for most normal humans (although after the third batch I think my husband is ready to do some experimenting). We used a few different recipes, found at and in the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving. You'll need a heavy-bottom pan, a masher or possibly a food processor, depending on the fruit, and usually sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. We used powdered pectin for the cherry jam and no pectin for the blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry jams. You might also want to add spices for more exciting flavor. This step is basically where you throw everything in a big pot and boil it for a while. We found that it was important to get the mixture's temp. up to 220, which is jelly stage according to my husband's thermometer. Cook exactly as the recipe states to ensure good "gelling."

  4. Cannin' and Processin' For this stage, you need hot jars, hot lids, and a huge pot of boiling (or nearly boiling) water. Pour the jam into the jars, leaving the required head space (per the recipe), put the lids on, and drop (or gently set) the full jars into the big pot. Boil for the set time, and remove to cool. As the jars cool you should hear the metal lid of each one pop as it seals. Let them sit for 12-24 hours, then check the lids for a good seal.

  5. Labelin' After the jars have cooled, label each one with they type of jam inside and the month and year made. You could also add items of interest such as who made the jam, where the fruits or berries came from, ingredients, and anything interesting you or your jam gift recipients might want to know. For instance, our blueberry-strawberry jam is made from organically-grown berries, so I plan to include that on the label.

  6. Eatin' and Giftin' Jam that has been processed correctly can be stored for a year in a cool dark place, but should be refrigerated once opened. Enjoying the "fruits" of your labor is the best part. My husband is super excited that we don't have to buy any expensive jam this year, and I have already gifted a few jars to friends who were thrilled to get a quality home-made food product.

Of course, I missed a step here, Cleanin', but hopefully you can find someone else to do that for you as it is not part of the fun.

I am just getting started on my home food preservation journey, and have learned a lot from my husband's mother, and from watching my own mother as a child. If you don't have a good personal resource, the National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great source of canning information.


  1. I've been thinking about canning ever since I suffered through last winter sans veggies, in my efforts to eat local (with poor planning). You make it sound so easy!

  2. Thanks Ann. I was also surprised to find that it wasn't too hard, after being intimidated by the idea for years! Good luck!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Woollybottoms Giveaway

I am hosting my first giveaway! I have been wanting to do this for a while, and I'm so pleased to have it finally planned. The item I chose to give is a new pair of Woollybottoms - wool pants for babies. The retail value of these is $29.00. I have been really into the wool pants thing lately, as you may have noticed from my recent posts (about Nifty Knickers , and my baby blue longies ) so this seems like a good fit. Wool pants can be used as a cloth diaper cover, or just as snuggly warm pants for the winter or for bedtime. These ones are "footies" so they should keep your baby toasty! The pair I am giving to one lucky winner is light blue with fish fabric for the footie part. Maybe a little more boyish than girlie, but Stella would definitely wear these if we got to keep them. They are size medium, and have the following measurements: 8" waist (elastic) 9" rise 18" length Here they are: To enter, simply comment below and let me know why you wan

End of May and the Garden is Planted!

This week has been extremely wet here in western Oregon. By Thursday morning, the rain was really getting to me. I was worried my new starts were going to drown and that the seeds I'd planted last weekend were going to rot. Luckily, there was sun that afternoon and when I went into the backyard I discovered many of my seeds had sprouted, and everything other than the two lemon cucumbers was still looking fairly healthy. We now have nearly everything in, except for the corn. From left to right, our beds contain: 1. thyme, rosemary, lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, oregano, and cabbage. 2. carrots and potatoes (planted late - just a couple of days ago) 3. 8 tomatoes and 2 peppers 4. strawberries 5. half of the bed is strawberries (which we might move to join the other bed to give us more room for other things), cucumber, one lone eggplant, and a couple of echinacea 6. empty for now, but it will be soon filled with corn - we are doing seeds in containers and will move them one they

Baby Blue Recycled Wool Longies

The first time I made recycled wool diaper covers, I made "shorties" that fit like little shorts, or a more typical diaper cover. For that project, I bought several wool sweaters at Goodwill and followed a pattern I found online that basically consists of cutting a triangle out of the sweater, cutting off the sleeve cuffs and neck, and sewing it all together, using the sleeves for the leg holes and the neck for the waist. I can give more specific instructions if you'd like, just ask in comments, but unfortunately was unable to find the site that I originally got the pattern from. To size the sides of the triangle, measure your little one's waist and add a half inch. Katrina's Sew Quick blog has some great patterns for a variety of types of wool diaper covers. Here is one of the first ones I made, clearly it is a little bit big at this point. You can see another photo of my handiwork in the bottom photo of my " Diapering My Active Nine-Month-Old " po