I took the kids to pick strawberries at a local farm and we used them to make jelly. I’ve canned before but never made jelly so I was hoping it would turn out okay. My four year old loves to cook and she did a lot of the jelly making work with a little guidance from me. I did the hulling but she smashed them up and stirred them as they boiled.
I used to think canning was for the super domestic types and I was intimidated by the process. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that canning is actually pretty simple and even kitchen dummies like me can do it successfully. Here’s how we did it…
1. First, pick your strawberries! You can buy them too, of course, but my kids had a great time picking. I think it’s important for kids to learn where food comes from.
2. Wash your strawberries thoroughly and cut off the stems. Then you need to smash them up. You can use a food processor but I let my kids beat them with wooden spoons. They enjoyed this immensely.
3. You only need 3 ingredients: strawberries, sugar and pectin. When you buy the pectin (right next to the jello usually), it comes with complete instructions for all kinds of fruit jellies and jams. I used the instructions from the pectin packet and my jelly came out just fine. I reduced the sugar slightly- 5 cups of strawberries and 2.5 cups of sugar. Put all your ingredients into a sauce pan on high heat.
4. You will heat this mixture until it boils. Then it’s time to spoon the jelly into jars. I used a ladle to do this and spilled some on the edges. It’s okay though because you’re about to put them into boiling water so it will get rinsed off. I used the mini mason jars so that I could give them out as gifts to friends and family. You have to sanitize your jars before using them. Running them through the dishwasher works or you can rinse them in boiling water. To get the jars to seal up, you’ll need another pot of boiling water. You will spoon jelly into the jars, put on the lid and twist is tightly. Then you’ll immerse the jar with the lid on into boiling water. You want the top to stick out of the water. You will let the jar sit for 2-3 minutes in the boiling water and then you will remove it from the water using tongs and set it upside down on the counter. Upside down is important. It helps the lids to seal.
5. So now you’re running a little assembly line, putting jelly into jars, putting the lids on, putting them in boiling water and then turning them upside down to cool. Keep them upside down for 10-15 minutes then turn them right side up. As the jar cools, the glass contracts and that’s what pulls the lid down and causes it to seal. You’ll hear a pop when the lid seals. Sometimes if you press the center of the lid, it helps the process along. The lid is sealed when it no longer moves up and down. When you press on it, you shouldn’t feel any movement or hear any sound.
6. Once your jars have cooled, you can decorate them if you like. Little tags are cute but, since we’re keeping it simple, I just tied a little red ribbon on the ones we plan to give as gifts.