Our canning didn’t go super smoothly in 2021. We finally admitted that we were not going to be able to can on the stove, so we bought a propane burner (intended for camp cooking) to do water bath canning on. We’re still getting our “outdoor kitchen” set up, so look forward to a future post on the topic, but we’re really happy with the results!
Last year we bough already picked strawberries because we were in a COVID lockdown and were living in an apartment without a garden. This year we have our own garden and some strawberry plants, but they aren’t established enough to give us adequate fruit. It’s still a little too early for u-pick in our area, however the next few weekends are packed with other commitments, so we decided to just buy them again this year.
We paid $15 per 2 litre basket and bought 6 litres total.
Making the Jam
Like last year, we used a pectin based recipe. We hulled and mashed two batches of 5 cups of berries, which used just over 4 litres of the whole fruit. Heading the warnings on the package, we did one batch at a time. Good thing we did, because we ran out of sugar midway. H jumped in the car and grabbed a few more bags while T finished cooking the first batch. We made and canned one batch at a time.
Last year we also had issues with our pots being too small to cook the jam in. We purchased a much larger pot that seemed to big, but in reality it was just big enough once the jam started boiling. With some of the other jams we make this year we will try a no-pectin recipe, and it will be vital that we can manage the volume while cooking.
We set up the burner and canner with jars to heat and sanitize them, and then removed the jars to fill them with jam. We set up on the outdoor table, with a cutting board to protect the glass top from the jars, and cloths to protect it from the hot jam pot. Lids soaked in hot water waiting to be placed on the jars.
Jarring up the jam was a tag team effort, with T filling the jars and H checking headspace, wiping rims and installing the lids.
We were slightly worried about hygiene, but keeping the jam covered when we weren’t actively using it and keeping the tools on the clean cutting board seemed to work well.
We had to can in two batches, with the canner able to accommodate ten jars at a time. We canned ten 125 mL jars first, and we won’t be doing that size again. The jars were too small for the wire basket and fell though when trying handle them using it. It was a fight to get the empty jars out of the hot water, and also to put the full cans in to do the sealing.
We had left over jam after the first batch, so we put it in the Instant Pot on slow cook to keep warm while we made the second batch. We mixed the batches together and canned the rest in 250 mL jars.
Is it worth it?
We enjoy the process of canning fresh local strawberries and enjoying their flavor year round. But does it save any money? Here is what it cost us per batch (Eastern Ontario, 2022):
|Strawberries (2.6 L)||$19.95|
|Sugar (1400 g)||$1.24|
|Pectin (1 package)||$2.99|
|Lemon juice (60 mL)||$0.27|
Two batches got us 3750 mL of jam, which equivalent to fifteen 250 mL jars. If we were to standardize this to 250 mL jars, that would be $28.61 per 7.5 250 mL jars, or $3.81 per jar. That’s more than the discount brand or even Smuckers jam at a discount grocery store ($1.64-$2.23/250 mL), but less than a fancy but widely available brand like Bonne Maman ($4.97) or St. Dalfour ($5.85). We would typically buy on the lower end of the range, so this isn’t really saving us any money.
The savings will come in when we start having fruits of our own to use, and when we start making jam without pectin (which will also use less sugar). Until then, we’ll just enjoy our bougie jam 🙂