Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves come together to create a warm and cozy holiday flavour in this Spiced Christmas Jam recipe. Made with strawberries and cranberries, this jam is both sweet and tart with a warming and comforting hint of seasonal spice.
Lord Byron’s Kitchen is no stranger to homemade jams. In fact, one of the most popular recipes here is my Easy Homemade Jam. That particular post focuses on a small batch of jam, meaning a jar or two. But, what if you have lots of berries that you want to make into jam? Or what if you plan to make lots of jars of jam to gift as presents this holiday season? You will need to properly can it so that it is safe for long-term storage. This Spiced Christmas Jam recipe is just the thing!
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Canning is most definately not a diffucult task. It does, however, take some patience and a lot of careful and precise techinique. It is nothing that you can’t learn! I consider myself to be a avid canner. In fact, I can every single year. Still, there are times that I get it wrong, especially when working on new recipes. But, you know what they say – practice makes perfect!
So, let’s talk a bit about this Spiced Christmas Jam recipe. First of all, you will need only a few ingredients, four of which are spices you most likely already have in your spice rack. Secondly, you will need to employ the water bath canning method, which is much less cumbersome than pressure canning. I’m comfortable with pressure canning, but prefer water canning if the recipe allows for it. Do you know how to determine which recipes require a specific canning method? I’ll tell you how!
WATER BATH CANNING VERSUS PRESSURE CANNING
To be perfectly honest, I’m comfortable with both, but most people seem to be more comfortable with water bath canning. That hissing, steaming pressure canner can be quite scary for the unexperienced canner; I get it! Luckily, this recipe is completely safe to use the water bath canning method.
Water bath processing is a processing method used in home canning for high acid or sweet foods. The jars are filled with the food and is sealed with a lid. The jars are boiled completely covered in water for a specific amount of time. High-acid or sugary foods are items such as jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, salsas, and tomato products. So, water bath canning is perfect for this Spice Christmas Jam.
In contrast, pressure canning uses a pot with a vent and a pressure gauge. The lid is either sealed using clamps or is screwed on. This type of canning is used to heat the food in the jars hotter than a boiling water bath method can. Low acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to be considered safe. That’s probably why pickling type recipes are the most common canned goods. Pressure canning must be used for anything with meat, beans, etc.
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INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE:
The following is a list of the items needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Cranberries – You can use frozen or fresh cranberries for this recipe. If you use frozen cranberries, there will be more moisture content, so you will need to cook for a little bit longer to evaporate that moisture, which will in turn, thicken the jam.
- Strawberries – Just like the cranberries, you can use frozen or fresh strawberries here too.
- Sugar – Don’t cut back on the sugar! The sugar amounts in canned goods are set so that safe canning practices are met. In the case of jams and jellies, the amount of sugar also helps to determine the thickness of the jam and whether or not the jelly will set properly.
- Liquid Fruit Pectin – Pectin naturally occurs in the cells of nearly all fruits and berries, however, the amount varies. Pectin is low in strawberries, so a liquid fruit pectin is needed to help the jam set or firm up.
- Spices – You will need ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground allspice, and ground cloves.
HOW TO WATER BATH CAN
STEP 1: PREPARING THE JARS
Some canners say that if you need to boil the jars longer than 10 minutes, then you don’t need to sterilize the jars. I say no! Canning is not as simple and as cheap as frying an egg. It takes time, and an investment if you don’t already have the equipment. Eliminate any risk whatsoever by always sterilizing your jars. It’s easy to do and this Spiced Christmas Jam deserves nothing less! Wash the jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse the jars well under running water to get rid of any soap residue.
Transfer the jars to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Using a jar wrench/lifter, lift the jars out of the water, tilting to pour out the water. Be careful; it’s hot! Stand the jar up onto a baking sheet. Once all of the jars are on the baking sheet, place them into your preheated oven at 200 degrees F. This will keep them hot and away from any contamination.
STEP 2: PREPARING THE SEALS AND RINGS
Mason jars are equipped with three parts. The first is the jar. The second and third parts combine to form the lid. The flat disc with the rubber ring on the bottom is the seal. Finally, the circular part that actually screws onto the jar is called a screw band. Depending on the brand or the recipe you’re reading, the names of these things can vary. But, they all do the same thing.
The screw bands never come in contact with the food, so they do not need to be washed or sterilized. But, because I want to eliminate any risk of contamination, I make sure they’re clean. After all, they have been sitting in a warehouse before they got to the store, and then finally, to me. That’s too many germs for my comfort level! I wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse them well, and transfer them to a bowl until I need them. The sealing disk/sealing ring needs a little more consideration.
If you look at the bottom of the lid, you will see a reddish-brown rubber ring. It’s attached to the lid. This ring has a huge job! It is pretty much in charge of keeping your food safe for long-term storage. Place the lids into a glass bowl. I like to separate them so that they are not all stacked. When I’m ready to ladle the food into the jars, I pour a kettle of boiling water over the lids so that they are sterile and the rubber band softens. That’s it. You have now prepared your jars. Next, we need to get the canner ready!
STEP 3: PREPARING THE CANNER
You can buy a canning pot, but you don’t have to do that. Any stock pot will do just fine. Be sure that the pot is tall enough to hold enough water so that your jars are covered by at least an inch of water. Fill the canning pot accordingly. Also, be sure to insert a canning rack or mat into the bottom of your pot. If you buy a canning pot it will come with one. Otherwise, you can buy them for any pot size. Never let your jars touch the bottom of the pot when boiling. They could easily break. Once you’ve done this, bring the water to a full boil.
In most cases, if you’re new to canning, you might notice some white residue on the jars of Spiced Christmas Jam after all is said and done. This can easily be cleaned off once the jars are cool. A few tablespoons of white vinegar in the boiling water helps to eliminate most of it. I use it every single time.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to keep a kettle of boiling water close by. Depending on how many jars you need to process, you might have to boil them in batches. You will be surprised at how quickly rapidly boiling water can evaporate. Having a kettle of boiling water will allow you to easily top up the canning pot without altering the temperature of the water.
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STEP 4: FILLING THE JARS
Depending on the recipe, filling the jars is quite easy. Having some inexpensive equipment on hand can make this process much easier. Invest in a canning funnel. It will help you ladle the food into the jars without making a mess. Also, it’s imperative to keep the rim of the jar clean to ensure a good seal. You will also need a bubble remover. You can buy these, but I’m not a fan of them. A clean wooden chopstick does the same thing. Removing bubbles will prevent mold from growing.
Lastly, you will need a magnetic lid lifter. Remember how I said the flat sealing lids will be submerged into a bowl of boiling water? Well, you can’t just pick them up with your hands. First of all, it’s hot! Secondly, you will want to eliminate the risk of any contamination. Do not touch the underside of the lid. Period! Using a magnetic lid lifter will allow you to pick up the lid and position it right onto the rim of the jar without ever touching it.
Finally, you will need to screw on the metal screw bands. In most cases, the food in the jars is scalding hot, so you can’t touch the jars to tighten the lids. But, that’s a good thing! You should never over tighten the lids. Place the screw band over the jar and tighten it with one hand. It should be snug, not tight. Now, that’s it! You’re ready to boil these jars!
STEP 5: BOILING THE JARS OF FOOD
Carefully lift the jars straight up using a jar wrench/lifter. Lower the jar into the pot of boiling water. Fill the canning pot with jars in this manner. Don’t jam the jars in; leave a little bit of space between the jars. I aim for about a centimeter or a finger’s width. Remember, you can process the jars in batches.
Once the canning pot is loaded, place a lid on the pot, and start your timer according to the recipe you are following. If the water is not at a full boil, do not start timing until it is! When the time is up, use the jar wrench to lift the jars straight up out of the water. Transfer the jars to a flat surface that has been lined with a few layers of kitchen towels. Allow the jars to fully cool – at least 24 hours! Finally, wipe the jars down, label them with contents and date, and store them into a cool, dark cupboard or pantry.
Some people remove the screw bands after the jars have cooled for 24 hours. I remove them just to check if there is a good seal. I put them back on once I’ve checked. It’s up to you if you want to leave them off. If you notice that a jar has not sealed, you can either discard it, or refrigerate it for immediate consumption. Only do so if you are 100% sure the food has not been compromised and that it is safe to eat.
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HOW TO MAKE SPICED CHRISTMAS JAM
Begin by pureeing the strawberries and cranberries in your food processor. It doesn’t matter if the berries are frozen or fresh, just puree them either way. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Transfer all of the pureed strawberries and cranberries to a large saucepan. Measure the sugar and spices and add those to the saucepan now as well.
Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full boil. Once fully boiling, meaning that even will stirring, the bubbles are still forming on top of the jam, continue to boil for one full minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and add in the liquid fruit pectin. Stir well to combine and place the saucepan back on the heat. Once the jam returns to a full boil, boil for one full minute, stirring the whole time. Remove from the heat. The bubbling will settle and once it does, use a spoon or ladle to skim off any foam and discard it.
Next, ladle the hot jam into the hot jars being sure to leave 1/4 inch of headspace. Place a clean, warm, sterilized seal on the jars and screw on a band until just finger-snug. That means that you should not apply any pressure when applying the screw band – just a snug fit is fine. Lower the jars into the canning jar. Be sure the water level covers the jars by two inches. Bring the water to a boil, cover the canning pot, and boil for 10 minutes. Once done, remove the jars from the water and transfer to a heat-proof surface. Allow jam to cool and set, undisturbed, for 12 hours. Wipe jars and label them accordingly. Store jam in a cool, dark cabinet.
HOW TO PUT YOUR SPICED CHRISTMAS JAM TO GOOD USE
The most obvious way is on toast, right? But, there are so many other ways to use jam. I’m just putting this out there in case you’re concerned with having 10 jars of Spiced Christmas Jam on hand at once! You can stir jam into plain yogurt to cut the tanginess. It creates quite a nice little dessert. Add some to your French toast mix. Try my baked bagel French toast with some jam dolloped into the dish! This would make a lovely Christmas morning breakfast!
Have you ever tried a sweet grilled cheese? Tuck some sliced brie between two slices of bread with some jam a few fresh thyme leaves. Don’t forget to season with some ground black pepper! If you’re planning to make any thumbprint cookies this holiday season, this jam would be absolute perfection to fill those centers! Oh, you could make a layer cake! My jam-filled vanilla layer cake is out of this world!
But, you don’t need to run out and plan all of these ideas. Remember, this jam is good for at least a year in your pantry. So, you can save them all for yourself, or you can package the jars up with a fresh baguette, a package of crackers, a wedge or two of good sharp cheese, and maybe some olives or nuts! Who wouldn’t want to receive a gift like that!?
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Spiced Christmas Jam
- 10 250 mL canning jars
- Waterbath Canning
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries (6 cups)
- 1/2 pound fresh or frozen cranberries (2 cups)
- 2 1/2 pounds sugar (5 cups)
- 2 pouches liquid fruit pectin, I'm using Certo Brand – 2 pouches at 170mL
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Begin by pureeing the strawberries and cranberries in your food processor. It doesn’t matter if the berries are frozen or fresh, just puree them either way. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Transfer all of the pureed strawberries and cranberries to a large saucepan.
- Measure the sugar and spices and add those to the saucepan now as well.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a full boil.
- Once fully boiling, meaning that even while stirring, the bubbles are still forming on top of the jam, continue to boil for one full minute.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat source and add in the liquid fruit pectin. Stir well to combine and place the saucepan back on the heat.
- Once the jam returns to a full boil, boil for one full minute, stirring the whole time. Remove from the heat.
- The bubbling will settle and once it does, use a spoon or ladle to skim off any foam and discard it.
- Next, ladle the hot jam into the hot jars being sure to leave 1/4 inch of headspace. Place a clean, warm, sterilized seal on the jars and screw on a band until just finger-snug. That means that you should not apply any pressure when applying the screw band – just a snug fit is fine.
- Lower the jars into the canning jar. Be sure the water level covers the jars by two inches. Bring the water to a boil, cover the canning pot, and boil for 10 minutes.
- Once done, remove the jars from the water and transfer to a heat-proof surface. Allow jam to cool and set, undisturbed, for 12 hours. Wipe jars and label accordingly. Store jam in cool, dark cabinet.
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