First, Gather your ingredients and supplies:
- Roughly 4 cups of mashed fruit (just get a bunch, you know your kids will any leftovers)
- 1/2 cup sugar or honey
- Pomona's Pectin (the box includes the pectin, the instructions, and the calcium powder to make the calcium water... you need it all)
- Lemon juice (for some fruits)
- White vinegar (only for the canning water, and you only really need it if you have hard water)
|Jar lifter, headspace measure-y thing, canning funnel, rings, jars, and lids. And the towel is clean, I swear...|
- Jars and lids. People typically can jelly and jam in 1/2 pints. If you want to give them as gifts you may even consider the adorable little 4oz (1/2 of a 1/2 pint) jars. I do the jam we are going to eat (organic, low sugar stuff) in pint jars because I can make more at once that way. I wouldn't suggest quarts... the jelly would go bad before you finished the open jar, unless you're the Duggars. For 4 cups of fruit you'll need 5-6 pint jars. Always boil more jars than you need, though.
- Large kettle (deep enough for your jars to fit plus at least a few inches- the enameled aluminum pots you can get at big box stores are cheap and great for this, or buy a kettle specifically made for canning).
- Large pot for boiling the mashed fruit
- Jar lifter**
- Magnetic lid lifter**
- Canning Funnel**
- Headspace measure-y thingy**
- Potato Masher
- Dish towel
- Small, clean dish cloth
Before you even touch your fruit, you need to prepare your jars and set up your equipment. First wash your jars. Then place them in your canning kettle and fill the whole thing with cold water, to just below the rims of the jars. Add a little vinegar, then place over high heat with the lid on.
Also, place a tea kettle or small saucepan of water over high heat as well. You'll need the hot water for the lids and rings (in the glass bowl below).
NOW you can get to your fruit. Wash and stem/pit the fruit. Cute helpers are a bonus.
|Yep, my kids with sharp knives.|
While waiting for the fruit to simmer, mix the recommended amount of pectin for your recipe to your 1/2 cup of sugar or honey.
|Sugar and pectin.|
Once you have filled all of your jars, use your headspace measure-y thingie (okay, I need to make up shorter names...) to check your headspace. I'm not gonna lie, though, this doesn't have to be super precise. Close is good enough.
Then, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP, wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. This ensures that no little pieces of strawberry prevent your jars from sealing.
While your jars are processing, deal with the odd amount of jelly you had left over. You'll almost always have an odd little amount- too much to throw away, but not enough for a full jar. Just pour that into a jar, lid, and throw in the fridge. You can use it as soon as it's cool.
|The odd jelly... this jar ended up being 1/3 nanking cherry and 2/3 strawberry rhubarb.|
When your jars have processed fully, remove them- lift jars straight up out of the kettle and keep them level as you move them. Do not be tempted to tip them to get the water off the top, if the lids aren't sealed yet jelly could seep out the side, preventing a proper seal.
The next day, label the jars (I just write a quick label and the year on the lid, like "straw, '13"). Then remove the rings (it's a bad idea to store canned goods with the rings on- it makes it more difficult to tell if a lid is loose, and the rings tend to rust) and, with your thumb, push up firmly on the lid to ensure a proper seal. Store in a cool, dark place.
Please ask questions if anything is unclear! And remember, I over explain everything, so these instructions are on the long side (but in all fairness, there are a lot of pictures...).