Have you ever thought about making your own jam or jelly? Well, you should because it is simple and so worth it. However, you must know the canning 101 guidelines to ensure food safety.

Three reasons you should can your own jams, jellies, relishes, etc. is because it is less expensive, Eco-friendly, and you can make large batches at one time which lasts for a very long time. I recently made my own strawberry jam and it was absolutely worth it. Before you go on a canning rampage, you must know the USDA canning guidelines.

Sterilization is key because it keeps your preserves safe to eat. First, be sure to buy quality ingredients. If you are buying fruits or vegetables, make sure they are fresh and in their prime season. Next, you need a strong jar, such as a Mason jar, which is free of any chips or cracks.

To sterilize jars before the filling begins, wash the jars and lids with soapy, hot water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. (It is important you use clean, sterilized tools - including your hands.) Leave the tray with jars in a preheated 200 degree oven for 25 minutes. OR you can boil the jars and lids in a large pot, covered with water for 15 minutes. Remove with clean tongs.

Keep in mind, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. Carefully, fill the hot, sterilized jars with the jam or jelly. Now you must heat-process the jars by placing them into a full boil in a large pot for 10-13 minutes. This ensures tightly sealed, sterilized lids.

Turn off the heat, remove the lids and allow to cool and rest for the next 24 hours. Place in refrigerator and enjoy your homemade jam on toast, bagels, English muffins, etc.!

Easy, peasy strawberry jam recipe:

1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 large lemon, zest and juiced
2 cups sugar

Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook over very low for 10-15 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over low heat for 35-45 minutes, until strawberries release their juices and the mixture boils slowly. To see if the jam is ready, test it out by pouring a small amount onto a very cold plate and wait for it to gel. (Keep a plate in freezer.) When jam is ready, use immediately or follow the proper canning guidelines above.