I first started making my own jams and preserves for Passover, so I could make sure there was no corn syrup or gelatin in them. Now, I do it whenever fruit is so in season that it's cheaper to make jam than to buy it.
Making preserves has nothing to do with the canning process. You do not have to can jams when they are made. I do keep mine in sterilized mason jars in the fridge, but that's to extend their shelf life to over a month. I rarely go through the whole processing rigamarole; I only do it when I made so much that I can't use it all in a month.
My approach to jam is really more like making candy. That way, you don't have to figure out how to use pectin or other gelling agents. It also tends to produce extra fruit syrup, especially with strawberries. I keep it separate for pancakes, blintzes, or ice cream topping.
This recipe is specifically for berries and stone fruits like cherries or apricots. Citrus is used for marmalade, which is a different recipe.
8 oz (1/2 lb) fruit of choice
8 oz (1/2 lb) sugar BY WEIGHT. This is the time to splurge on C&H, or the best cane sugar you can find.
1 Tb lemon juice (a preservative. It enhances color, flavor, and prolongs shelf life)
1. Wash and prepare fruit: hull strawberries, remove any unwanted skins, seeds, cores, or pits, and cut into pieces no bigger than 1/2". For small berries like blueberries, mash slightly - just enough to break the skin.
2. In a non-metal bowl, sprinkle lemon juice over fruit. Cover fruit with sugar. Set in refrigerator and allow sugar to absorb juices. Several hours or overnight.
3. In a saucepan, slowly bring to a low boil, stirring frequently to avoid scorching the sugar. With a spoon, skim off the scummy bubbles that form. When the bubbles stop being foamy and get clear and larger, turn up the heat a bit and get out the candy thermometer. You want to get it to the fudge/soft ball temperature, 240º.
4. Once it reaches temperature, remove from heat and place into very clean - preferably sterilized - containers. What I do is get all the fruit into the first jar and fill up the spaces in-between with syrup. Any remaining syrup goes in a second container. Cover loosely and allow temperature to come down slowly. After 2 hours, secure lids and place in refrigerator. The jam should set up overnight.
Makes 1 pt.
Difficulty rating :-0