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Canning Strawberry Jam - Take 1

We’ve had a really great response to our Weck Jars. They have so many awesome uses (dry goods, storing asparagus, Ina’s Herbed Goat Cheese), but I decided to try my hand at canning and use them as initially intended. So I decided to make jam. It’s strawberry season. Strawberry jam is one of my favorites. I see posts and recipes for jam all over the place. My mom used to make jam - I never helped, but how hard could it be?

Turns out, if you don’t do your research before hand, you will likely be unprepared. Not good. My first experience with canning is your “How To” of what not to do! Canning is more science than art. Canning is something you learn and perfect. Not something you do on a whim, because ‘Hey, it’s almost summer and I love strawberries!’ I thought, I’ll just grab a few quarts of strawberries, make a jar or two. Canning requires work and preparation. In my opinion, too much work and preparation to only come out with a jar or two (honestly, we ended up with only a jar and a half).

I choose Ina’s Fresh Strawberry Jam recipe – seemed simple, easy to follow. But there is also a note; It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. That’s the key part. I did see 100 Days of Real Food posted a video of how she cans her strawberry jam. It was 30 minutes long, I watched a bit and realized that her jam was already on the stove, ready to go. It was a 30 minute video of just the canning and preserving part!! I should have known then that I was in over my head. But, Michelle came over and we got to work.

I followed Ina’s recipes and once I had the strawberries on the stove cooking down, we started to read the canning instructions, and then went over to the Weck Jar website to read their canning directions. When dealing with food, bacteria, and contamination there isn’t a lot of wiggle room. Jars, lids, spoons, surfaces – everything needs to be sanitized to ensure that your canned food will keep. Lots of boiling water. There were a few ‘canning supplies’ that would have made this endeavor easier - jar tongs, a larger pot, clean hand-towels at the ready. But really, I just didn’t do enough research. I should have read more about how the Weck Jars work best, researched the methodology of canning and preserving, and taken the time to prepare my supplies before jumping in with a carton of strawberries and a recipe.

We managed to get through it, relatively bacteria-free (we kept our jar in the fridge, just in case). But after all that prep, one jar of jam was not satisfying. I definitely want to do it again. I talked to my mom – she used to can and used the jars with the wax on top to seal it. I’m going to try it again, with my Weck Jars prepped and my mom as my guide.

I know there must be some avid canners out there. Anyone have tips they’d like to share? I need them. I also learned that the Weck Jar rubber rings need to be replaced so the jars can be reused and sealed completely. Would you like us to carry rubber ring replacements?

Thanks for sticking with me on this one. I will not give up – so please be on the lookout for a successful canning post in the future!

--Cassandra

Link to Ina's Fresh Strawberry Jam recipe here.

Comments on this post (3)

  • Jun 23, 2017

    I canned 6 jars of strawberry jam and 6 jars of mixed berry jam yesterday (first time doing jam). Came out fine. I use Ball Jars with metal lids/rings. Agree that you need to research the canning process first and as long as your prepared with all the tools (they really help) it’s a pretty cool experience. In the past two years I’ve done zucchini relish, peppers, green beans and amazing apple sauce. Target when on sale and hardware stores have the best prices for jars and accessories.

    — Mary Ann

  • Jun 11, 2017

    Robin,
    Thank you for reading our blog and sharing your thoughts. It was not our intention to deter readers from canning or to convey that it was too difficult a pursuit. You hit the nail on the head – we were unprepared, maybe even a little naive. We hoped to make that clear in the post. Our experience was neither complete disaster nor huge success, but we wanted to share our authentic experience because sometimes (many times) things don’t go as planned the first time around. We hope to connect with our readers and customers in real way. We named the blog Canning Strawberry Jam – Take 1, because there will be a Take 2. And maybe even a Take 3 &4! And when the time comes, we will be thrilled to share our tips and success. Thanks again, for reading our blog. We hope you’ll stick around for Take 2.

    — Cassandra's Kitchen

  • Jun 09, 2017

    I’m disappointed that you describe canning as too much work and too hard. It isn’t. People have been preserving food for generations, and it’s an admirable, profitable, and worthwhile pursuit. But obviously, if you don’t know what you’re doing, anything can be a disaster. That’s why there are clear directions and recipes and, these days, even videos. I do hope you didn’t put too many people off. A more productive use of your blog would be clear how-to information and a sharing of your success! Better luck next time, if there is one.

    — Robin Chambers

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