DIY Recipes

Simple Guide to Canning – Part 4: Fruit and Pectin

The following is a guest post by Raising A Family On A Budget.

Making jam really is as simple as reading the directions on the package of pectin. There are no real tricks to capture summer’s essence in a jar, just a little know how and you will be good to go.

One thing that I learned early on is that you do not need to buy the most beautiful fruits to achieve the most delicious jams. In fact, you can often purchase “seconds” at farm stands for a fraction of the cost simply because the fruits have small blemishes, are of irregular size or color, and sometimes are slightly over or under ripe. Fruits that are considered seconds are still edible and delicious, but they are much better in cooked applications where the physical qualities of the fruit are not nearly as important as the taste.

So far this year, I have taken advantage of strawberry picking at a local PYO farm for making strawberry jam, the $1.99/pint blueberry deal at Whole Foods for blueberry jam, and recently our local farmer’s market has had fresh peaches for $.77/lb so I bought enough for jam and filling the freezer.

When you are first starting out, it is hard to know how much of a particular fruit you will need. The boxes of Ball Pectin & SureGel have always had a direction sheet inside of them that would tell you how much fruit you need to prepare for a batch of jam using the entire box of pectin.

Without fail, I’d always have either way too much fruit, or be just shy in my quantities.

This year, I have found the best alternative to the boxes of pectin…Ball Classic Pectin – Flex Batch.

One jar of the Classic Pectin can make 22 half pint (8oz) jars of jam. One box of Ball Pectin or SureGel is equal to 6 Tbsp of pectin from the jar, so if you find recipes that call for “one box of pectin” you now have your equivalents.

More importantly, you can now scale your recipe based on the amount of fruit that you have using as little as 1 1/3 cups of prepared fruits, all the way up to 14 2/3 cups of prepared fruit if you are using an entire jar of pectin!

I have had a lot of success with the flexible measurements and my jam making. The package recommends not exceeding 10 jars per batch (about 7 1/3 cups of fruit) however, once you become more comfortable with jam making, you can successfully scale all the way up to the larger batch sizes because you will become familiar with the consistency that jam becomes when it is ready to go into the jars.

The other main ingredient in jam is sugar. While you can reduce the amount of sugar in the recipes and there are recipes that use sugar substitutes, such as Splenda, the best and most consistent results come from using Classic Pectin and sugar.

Below is the table from inside the Classic Pectin Flex Jar so you will know how much fruit and sugar to have on hand before we start jam making in the next post.

For every 2 half pint jars of jam, you will need:

For every 2 half pint jars of jam, you will need:Traditional RecipeReduced Sugar Recipe
(still gets great results)
Prepared Fruit1 1/3 cups1 1/3 cups
Bottled Lemon Juice
(use only with blueberries, peaches, and sweet cherries)
1 Tbsp1 Tbsp
Ball Classic Pectin1 ½ Tbsp = 4 ½ tsp1 ½ Tbsp = 4 ½ tsp
Granulated Sugar1 2/3 cups1 cup

Note: The reduced sugar recipe noted above is still using Classic Pectin. There is no sugar/low sugar pectin available on the market as well. Also, less sugar equals a lower final yield on the amount of jam you have.

The best prices that I have found on pectin & canning supplies are at Walmart. I have also found decent selections at Lowe’s, ACE Hardware, TruValue, ShopRite, and other grocery stores.

Helpful Resources:

That concludes our canning series! I hope that you are now inspired to make jams of your own!

Other posts in this series:

Stephanie Huston is the mom behind Raising A Family On A Budget.  Her main focus is saving families money through couponing and shopping sales for the items we need and would buy anyway. In addition, there are often ideas shared for other frugal aspects of our lives (cooking, dining out, DIY, vacation, etc).

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