You've got the gear. You've got some fruit. You've read the instructions in the recipe. You're now scratching your head, wondering "yeah, but what exactly does that mean?" Let me walk you through this with some pictures so you don't feel quite so much trepidation.
Fill the water canner with hot water and then put it on the stove and turn up the heat. You don't want to wait around for this to come to a boil later. Next, your jars should be dry and hot--either in the dishwasher or on a pan in the oven at 200.
First, clean your fruit.
Now, cut out any steams, seeds, cores et al and measure your fruit.
Place fruit in a large stockpot or saucepan. It will seem like there is quite a lot of pot for so little fruit (no jokes please). Trust me, it's better to use a pot with tall sides because once everything is boiling and you add the sugar, it will fill up quick. You also want a long wooden spoon unless you are also hoping to burn of the flesh on your knuckles.
Turn up the heat and stir the fruit (and lemon juice or water if that is what the recipe calls for). The fruit is going to cook down and break apart now. If you like chunky jam, just keep stirring it. If you want a smoother jam, mash the fruit with a potato masher now.
When your fruit is cooked down and starting to boil, add the pectin. I am using powdered pectin. For liquid, first the sugar is added and then the liquid in a slightly different order. Be sure to read your recipe carefully for which one it is calling for.
Stir in the pectin completely before dumping in all the sugar at once. It is easier to measure it all out into a bowl first. It seems like a lot, huh? It is. Enjoy it.
Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and keep stirring. The mix will return to a boil--not just a sputter. You want a real boil to happen next--you'll know when you can't just stir it down. When it starts to boil, set a timer for ONE MINUTE. That's it. And stir, baby, stir.
Remove the jam from the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes. This allows it to calm down enough for you to skim off any "foam" that may have formed in the boiling process. Foam doesn't go away when you stir it down, and it wont go away once it's in your jars. It's not pretty and it will mar the look of your preserves, so after 5 minutes, stir the jam and then skim off the foam with a large spoon.
Now, here's the easiest set up-water canner, jam pot, towel ladle and funnel, wet washclothe, jar handler. Take a hot jar out of the oven and place it one the towel. Place the funnel in the top, and ladle in enough jam to come up to 1/4 of the top (this is called headspace-we could all use a little). Remove the funnel and wipe any jam that may have gotten on the edge of the jar off. If you don't and the jar is "dirty", the seal wont set with the lid and everyone dies. No biggie. Place a hot lid on the hot jar and top with a ring. Screw that baby on tight and, using the jar holder, place the jar into the hot water bath. Breath deeply and repeat until all the jam is used up.
When the canner is filled or the jam is all gone, lower the jars in the canner, put the lid on and turn up the heat so the water boils. When the water begins to boil hard, set the timer for 10 minutes and let those microorganisms die die die. After ten minutes, you can remove your luscious homemade preserves from the hot water and set out to cool. And, oh, DON'T TOUCH THE TOP OF THE JAR. yeah, let it cool first so you can make sure you have a good seal.
As the jars cool, you will hear them go pop pop pop as the lids set. If, when they are cooled, you find one isn't sealed, it can keep in the fridge for a month or so and nobody will die. I promise.
These are the basics of jam making.