Water bath canning is a wonderful and simple way to start preserving food that is shelf-stable for up to 15 years. In this recipe guide you'll learn how to make homemade strawberry jam without pectin and then preserve it via water bath canning!
Canning may seem overwhelming, but it really is quite easy and safe. While pressure canning requires special equipment, water-bath canning does not! You just need a large stock pot and some mason jars.
If you've never canned before, strawberry jam is a great way to get your feet wet. Not only is it delicious, but it makes an amazing gift too. This step by step guide will help you get started canning today.
How to Water Bath Can
Though this guide is for strawberry jam specifically, the general steps are the same for any fruit or tomato dish you'd like to can. Just make sure you check out the different cook times for the particular fruit you are canning.
There are a few items you will need before getting started...
Items Needed for Water Bath Canning
- A large pot.
This is for the actual canning process. Make sure that it is tall enough that you can place your jars inside and still be able to fill the pot so that there is at least 2 inches of water above the top of the jar. This one is...
- Another large pot.
This is for making the jam. It needs to be fairly large since the jam will bubble up quite a bit. Make sure it's large enough to keep the jam from overflowing!
- An additional pot.
This is to sterilize the rings and lids.
- A Canning Tool Set.
This set is extremely affordable and includes all the tools you will need to pack your food for both water bath canning and pressure canning.
- I also recommend getting the Complete Guide to Water Bath Canning
While not 100% necessary, this book is an amazing resource for tried and true, time-tested canning recipes. Even though I've been canning for over a decade, I still reference it every single canning session!
Once you have everything gathered up, it's almost time to can some jam!
4 Things to Remember When Water Bath Canning
While the process for water bath canning is very simple, there are a few things to remember to make sure that your canned food is safe for years to come.
1. Wash, sterilize, and heat your jars.
Do NOT just open the pack of jars from the store and pour your goods inside. While this is probably a no-brainer for you, I wanted to make sure you knew, since I have met some people who don't.
If you have a dishwasher, you can just put all the jars in the dishwasher and run it on sterilize. Time is so that the jars are still hot when you're ready to ladle in the hot jam if you can!
2. Use new metal or reusable plastic lids.
Most metal lids are not recommended for reuse - even though some people still do it. The reason being that when you remove the lid from a canned jar it requires the lids to be bend a little bit in order to release the seal. Once it's bend, it will not be good for canning again.
However, if you used the lid on a jar that was NOT canned (storing dry goods or something), then you can use it again for canning!
3. Wipe the rims.
Once you fill your jars up, make sure that you take a CLEAN towel and dip it in some boiling water (just the very tip so you don't get burned) and wipe any residue from the glass rims of the jars. Remove anything that could keep the lid from forming a seal (which is everything but glass!).
4. Use approved recipes.
This is a point of contention for a lot of "rebel canners" and I totally understand! There may be family recipes that have been passed down that everyone has used for generations - that's fine, use your judgement!
But in general, use recipes that have been tested and approved for canning. All of the recipes on this site and in the Complete Guide to Water Bath Canning are approved recipes!
Alright, now that we've covered all the MUST KNOW points, let's get down to making some strawberry jam!
Organic Strawberry Jam
- Pre-heat oven to 250°.
- Wash the jars by hand using soap and hot water. Do the same with the rings and lids.
- Place jars only on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Leave there until jam in finished.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Reduce to a simmer and add lids and rings. Be careful not to boil once lids and rings have been added
- Next wash and slice strawberries. Add them to your large jam pot. Start mashing them one layer at a time until all strawberries are cut and mashed. I use a sturdy whisk or a potato masher for this step.
- Remember that any chucks of strawberry you leave will end up in your jam. That's not a bad thing, just be aware!
- Place jam pot on the stove and add the sugar. Stir until mixed well.
- With heat on med-high, stir regularly until sugar is dissolved.
- While sugar is dissolving, fill your canning pot a little less than half-way with water and start bringing to a low simmer.
- Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat up to high and stir constantly.
- After 15-20 minutes the jam will start to thicken and coat the stirring spoon. At this point, remove the jam from the stove and the jars from the oven.
- Remembering that the jars are very hot, place the funnel into the jar and position them where you can easily fill the jars with jam.
- Ladle in the hot jam, being careful to leave a 1/4" headspace (the amount of air left in the jar from the top of the jam to the top edge of the jar).
- Once all jars are full, use the bubble remover. Place the tool all the way into the jar until it touches the bottom and run it along the entire wall of the jar. This will remove any air bubbles that might cause bacterial growth.
- Use a clean dish cloth or paper towel, wet with some boiling water from the lid/rings pot, to clean the top rim of the jar. Be careful not to drip water into the jam!
- Carefully remove a lid and ring from the hot water and place them on each jar. Hand-tighten only.
- Using the jar lifter, place 5 jars into the canning pot. Make sure that they do not touch. If they touch during the canning process, they could shake too much and break.
- Make sure that there is at least 1 1/2" - 2" of water covering the top of the jars. If there isn't, add more hot water.
- Turn the heat up to high until a full boil is achieved.
- Once a full boil starts, set a timer for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the boiling water. Place them on a towel and do not move them for at least 6 hours.
- Listen for a popping noise over the next hour. That is the jar fully sealing!
- Make sure to check that all jars have sealed. If they haven't you can try to process them again in the water bath, or simply place them in the refrigerator and use them first!
More Water Bath Canning Recipes