Allright, I'm no expert on jam making as this has been my first attempt. I trawled the internet for some ideas on how to go about it and morfed a few together to make the whole procedure easy. After making 50 some odd jars with pretty good results I have to say it's not as hard as it may seem. It has also been pretty satisfying. The whole experience was pretty fun actually from taking all the kids out to the berry patch to stirring bubbling pots of auromatic fruit. I'm going to include my recipe but if any of you readers want to add tips or ideas PLEASE do!
8 cups of berries (first I made strawberry then raspberry)
8 cups sugar
2 tblspoons lemon juice (optional, you could also flavour with vanilla or almond, whatever really!)
Put a few small plates in freezer to do jel test. You also may want put your largest pot (I used our stock pot) filled part way with water on the fire to boil for sterlizing your jars.
Place fruit in a large heavy bottomed pot, bring to a boil while mashing with potato masher for one minute then add sugar and half a packet of powdered certo. Let cook at a low rolling boil for about 15 minutes while stirring constantley so fruit doesn't burn. After about 10 min you should check the jam to see if its jelled by taking out the cold plate, drop a spoonfull of jam on plate and if you can push it around in a formed blob its done. Line up your sterilized, warm jars and ladle jam in, leaving 1/4 inch jar on top. Make sure you clean the lips of the jars with a clean cloth before you put lids on or you won't get a proper seal. To seal the jars your going to want to make a water bath so what I did was put some tea towls on the bottom of my stock pot, kept the water at a rolling boil and placed (carefully) the jars in pot with at least 2 inches of water above them. I left them in for about 10-15 min. The next morning I was pleased (and suprised) to find my little jars had all sealed properly. (que pumping fist into air).
8 cups of fruit made about 8 little jars. Alot of jam recipes made the point to stress the importance of not doubeling and to do the jam in batches so fruit cooks evenly, blah, blah. I found working with 8 cups pretty workable. I did make raspberry syrup but only got one lrge jar from 8 cups of fruit and straining out the seeds was a pain. Next time I try a syrup I'm going to use something without so many seeds. If anyone out there knows anything about making syrup....