I did it! (first time canning, and a question)

clubcrackerJune 22, 2012

Thanks all for your advice in the strawberry jam thread I posted earlier this week.

I armed myself with some half pint jars and followed the recipe on the Sure Jell box. It would have made 8 half pints, but...

when I went to fill the last 2 jars, I only had 1 lid and 2 rings (had them in simmering water). So I have to think that one of my 6 jars has a double lid, where two stuck together in the water.

I canned yesterday so this morning I checked out the jars and they all seem to be sealed. None seems to feel or look weird like it has a double lid...but one of them must? Is this OK? Anyone ever done this before?

The leftovers went into the fridge in a glass container. Had some warm over (strawberry of course) ice cream last night for dessert and got rave reviews from kids and adults alike.

I think it was a good suggestion to try using pectin the first time...it sort of simplified things so I could concentrate on getting the process right. I'll try again with a no-pectin recipe next time (this weekend if there are more ripe berries!).

Thanks again~


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It happens although usually the top second lid lifts right off as soon as you remove the rings and wash the jars well before putting them on the shelf.

Can I ask what your objection or concern about the standard practice of using pectin is? There is a lot of false information out there about it. Skipping the pectin when using the fruits that have a lot of their own natural pectin is one thing. Trying to skip it with strawberries is usually a pronounced failure.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:49PM
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Hmmm, I took off the rings assuming I'd see which was the doubled up jar and they all seem solid! Lined them up and they all look alike too...maybe the lid vanished elsewhere? Weird. Glad to know it's probably OK, though. I could lift all the jars by the edge of the cap without any of them opening or shifting so I think that's a good seal.

As far as pectin, I just don't like the idea of adding a chemical. I know it's all chemical in some form but to me, lemon juice from a lemon is very different from powdered pectin made from (I don't know what) and processed (I don't know how) in a factory. KWIM?

At least this jam has a whole lot less in it than stuff I'd buy at the store, and I do know the quality of the fruit is great...

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I just don't like the idea of adding a chemical

Ahh, that's what I thought and why I asked as many are mis-informed about what pectin is. Pectin isn't a chemical.

Pectin is just the natural coagulating portions of fruit that are extracted, dried, and then powdered. In fact you can make your own at home.

It is a naturally occurring substance, a complex carb called polysaccharide that is found in the pith and the peel of citrus fruits, peaches, plums, berries, and in apples. Commercial brands of pectin like Certo and Sure Jell and Pomona are made from apples and citrus fruits. All natural which is why they have a limited shelf like and expiration dates.

Why not do some reading up on it before ruling it out?


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 5:42PM
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There is pectin in strawberries that are not completely ripe. You just need to add a handful of the berries that have some green/white on the bottom.
There is some detailed info on how to make strawberry jam without pectin.

I wish I knew how to link it for your convenience but I am a computer klutz.

Just google - strawberry jam recipe without pectin

Then search out the Cincinnati News article with a recipe by Valeree

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Actually, it's the Cincinnati Locavore and Valereee is the one who posted the recipe.
I found the article very helpful and hope you do too. Now I'm ready to make some jam too. Still has sugar in it but, the lemon juice could help cut the sweetness.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:20PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

There are threads here on making your own pectin or pectin base, so you might consider that. Apple pectin is the most neutral in flavor and can be used as either apple jelly or canned as a pectin supplement for low-pectin fruits like strawberries.

I've made strawberry jam and don't use commercial pectin (except for freezer jam) but your success rate and ease of success depends upon the berries and growing conditions. It's easier here in the Pacific Northwest.

The problem with a low-pectin fruit is in the interests of success you can easily end up overcooking the fruit to achieve the desired degree of firmness. Basically you end up evaporating the water rather than setting the jam.

It's not difficult to make traditional strawberry jam that's sufficiently firm. The trick is making good strawberry jam.

Be willing with traditional preserves to accept a softer set if that's what the fruit demands. Focus on flavor and let the set take care of itself. If it's thinner, so what.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Hey Dave, I did a little reading. CP Kelco is a company that makes commercial pectin for jams...and also for a lot of other uses. Including imparting a fat-like mouth feel to foods (ick) and some other applications.

They're in competition with companies like Monsanto and Pfizer.

I'm more comfortable not incorporating products like these into my homemade items, if possible. It's just my own, personal preference and many of my reasons are probably far too OT for this forum. :)

Doesn't mean I won't use it, just means I'd prefer to research alternatives as well.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 8:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Your choice of course but lest we scare other readers into believing that the pectins available for home canning is somehow unsafe, contains chemicals, or is made by the company or companies you mention, they are not.

Sure Gel and Certo are manufactured by Kraft Foods. Ball Pectins are manufactured by Ball/Jarden Foods.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:40PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Why not use Pomonas Pectin ? It is natural.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:03PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

No one here is arguing with your choice not to use a commercial product and there's nothing you need to justify.

It's certainly possible to learn how to make preserves without commercial pectin. After all, people did that for hundreds of years before the boxed stuff became available. It's just a natural learning curve.

Speaking of chemicals, I'm assuming you're using organic strawberries. The spray schedule for berries is quite intensive.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:46PM
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Speaking of chemicals, lets not forget about the intense refining process that sugar goes thru. Never mind the herbicides and insecticides that are applied to the sugarcane fields. Brazil is the leading producer of sugarcane in the world - fortunately they buy most of their pesticides from Dupont so we can continue to feel good about boycotting Monsanto.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:58PM
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To the folks who are respectful and trying to simply answer questions without judgement, thank you, I do appreciate it.

To those who want to be snarky or bait me about my choices, please, can we stick to the topic? I came here for info on harvest (see forum name), not to be lectured on my personal choices.

Again, many thanks.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:05AM
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Pectin is a soluble fiber. It's actually good for you. I wouldn't fear its use, but if you don't mind soft to runny preserves, there is no reason you must use it.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:26AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, I was being serious not snarky. As the daughter of a berry farmer I am well aware of the spray schedule for these fruits. Berries are also too delicate for the sort of cleaning possible with apples, for instance.

Anyone involved in canning is going to discover there's a whole range of issues regarding chemicals and it's up to the home food processor to decide where their line is. For vegans, of course, there is also the issue of bone in processing of some sugar. Alternatives are available but the cost is greater.

So one can use organic fruit, European jars with glass lids (to avoid bisphenol A), and naturally processed sugar and avoid all these issues. However for some it makes canning a luxury they can no longer afford.

Sorry you felt you were targeted but there's no shortage of canning forums online.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 1:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I didn't intend any snarkiness either. But we do strive hard here to be accurate in the info we provide and we are well aware that there is a lot of inaccurate info on the web about pectin. For example, many still believe that it is made from the cooked bones of slaughtered animals - NOT!

This post will be around for years and will be read by any one who Googles about pectin so both sides of any issues raised need to be addressed.

So with all respect, when it comes to home canning pectin is one of the most natural ingredients there is. Of the 3 ingredients in strawberry jam - strawberries, sugar, and pectin - the pectin raises the least food safety issues.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 3:30PM
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Congratulations on your first canning batch! Always a bit overwhelming, but rewarding! Enjoy learning more. It's a great way to preserve. You'll be hooked before you know it!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 6:31PM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

I did not know that pectin was natural (allthough i have heard apples contain it) So I did learn something from this exchange. I also didnt notice any snarkyness at all, i noticed diffrent opinions being expressed. I will research though on how to can my own pictin base so that that would be 1 less item to purchase. Thank you all for the responses, as always im learning.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Here is the link for strawberry jam without pectin.

One of the secrets besides underripe berries (only a few per quart) is to drain the berries - set them aside - and cook down the sauce to a gel consistency


Here is a link that might be useful: strawberry jam without pectin

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I, personally, prefer to make most jams without added pectin for two reasons. First, I don't have to worry about having a box of Sure-Jell (or whatever) around. Second, most no-added-pectin recipes allow you to use a good bit less sugar. I guess there's a bit of a third reason too -- I generally prefer a softer set in preserves.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:11PM
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