Dade City’s One-Stop Shop recently held a class on how to produce and preserve canned strawberry jam.
The art of canning involves preserving foods in jars, to keep them safe for eating for long periods of time.
The class, at the One-Stop Shop in Dade City, was presented by the University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Pasco County Extension.
LuAnn Duncan is a UF/IFAS instructor who explained how to properly can strawberry jam and reduce the chances of contamination.
“Bacteria grows and it can grow on the food. It can grow in your refrigerator. It can be transferred from your hands,” she said.
“Anything that’s a low acid food is considered a high risk,” Duncan added.
Fortunately, strawberries have high levels of acidity, which helps deter bacteria from building up.
When placed in a jar, low acid foods should be boiled to at least 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Foods with a higher level of acidity only need to be boiled at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Boiling jars helps to tighten the seal and remove oxygen, preventing growth of bacteria, mold and yeast, she said. Jars of varying sizes can be used to store strawberry jam.
When using 4 half-pint jars, 3 cups of frozen or thoroughly washed strawberries should be mashed down in a bowl.
Before boiling in a pot, strawberries should be mixed with pectin.
Pectin is a natural substance in fruit that gives it a gelatinous form. However, strawberries contain little pectin.
Commercial pectin in powdered form can be purchased and mixed with strawberries.
Add 2 ½ tablespoons of the pectin and 3 cups of sugar.
These components help to thicken the strawberry jam.
The mixture is then placed in a pot and is consistently stirred while boiling.
A separate pot ranging from 8 quarts to 10 quarts, should be used to sterilize empty jars before they’re filled with the jam.
A fitted, circular rack used to hold multiple jars, should be placed at the bottom of the pot.
Before boiling, a jar lifter should clench the seal of the jars, placing each one in the rack.
A temperature gauge should be used to indicate how hot the water is.
The water is preheated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and brought to a boil after jars are submerged underneath.
The boiling should take approximately 10 minutes.
When the strawberry jam has finished boiling in its pot, the hot jars can be removed from the other pot, using the jar lifter.
Each jar is then filled with jam using a funnel, and the jar’s rim is wiped before the seal and lid are fastened.
There should be a ¼-inch of headspace between where the jam settles and the jar’s lid.
The jam-filled jars are placed into the same pot rack.
Water should be 2 inches above the jars and boiled to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.
This helps to tighten the seal, preventing exposure to bacteria.
Using the jar lifter, each jar is taken out and placed on a towel with at least a 1-inch space between them.
Each jar should be cooled for 24 hours before use. When the seal is detached, the rim of each jar is wiped off of any jelly, to prevent molding.
The environment for cooling should be anywhere from 50 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
For further information on canning food items and the necessary equipment, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at https://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Published April 08, 2020