Canning

homemade strawberry jam, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

This summer, I read my share of posts on jam: Tea and Cookies posted throughout her summer about various jams (ah, the travels she took to wonderful berry kingdoms!)…and here on Muffin Top, Eric posted about jamming as comfort activity and Connie posted a wonderful write up of sour cherry jam.

How could a girl resist falling in love with the idea of jamming? At first, I read with awe about jamming, something I saw as akin to alchemy. Sterilize jars, lids, make jam, boil jars in canner, seal…so many steps, so many having nothing to do with cooking! It was…MAGIC. And if it were to go wrong, it would be TRAGIC (as bad magic tricks go). I was intimidated.

But in the end, my desire for homemade jam overcame any intimidation I felt.

I wrote emails to Tea and Eric. Tips, got any tips?
1. Don’t cut down on the sugar–and Tea’s post on her sad strawberry saga was particularly insightful. Don’t double the recipes either. Pectin can be picky.
2. To pectin or not to pectin? As I conducted my research, I found that there is an “anti-pectin” camp, and another camp that sees nothing wrong with using pectin (the thing that makes your jam jell). Martha Stewart is in the no-pectin camp, because I found none of her ercipes included pectin. If you’re making jam with a low-pectin fruit, you want to go with pectin. If you’re making jam for the first time, you want to go with pectin. You may want to go with a low-sugar pectin (I did, and it turned out GREAT). You may also go with Pomona’s Universal no-sugar pectin, too, if you are adverse to sugar. I tried it. I prefer the low-sugar pectin brand.

Um, those are basically the tips.

I used the recipes for blueberry and strawberry jams on pick your own. I am in LOVE with canning!

And now I’m eyeing a bag of locally grown tomatoes, and want to can tomaotes, too. What can be better than to pop open a can of tomatoes in the middle of winter, when all the tomatoes are gone?

Canning–a combination of alchemy, crafts (yes, it’s like doing crafts) and pragmatism (after all, it is a way to preserve fresh produce for much later). The thing is, I keep eating the jam–what will I have by the time winter comes?

4 responses to “Canning

  1. I’m no jam/canning expert, but I didn’t use pectin in my jam (though I did use lemon), and it seemed to jell. I do wish I’d chopped the cherries more finely, though. Sadly, I produced only 1 pint-sized jar of jam, and I’m about halfway through!! (It’s gooooood.) I do have a couple jars of brandied and pickled sour cherries. Next year, I’ll try make more jam and use smaller jars.

  2. Christine, the strawberry jam is YUMMY!! I love the photo of the jam in the glass jar, but that little bit of something next to it looks unfortunately like something left over from anatomy class. sorry.

  3. it does look like guts!

  4. I made a batch of peach freezer jam and not a single can jelled. I even used pectin! And when I say it didn’t jel, I mean not even slightly. My only explanation is that I was using peaches I grew myself that had been picked when completely ripe instead of those from the store which are picked early. They were VERY juicy. Perhaps there was just too much liquid. While it isn’t the best for toast, it actually makes a heavenly ice cream topper and works pretty well as a sauce for pork tenderloin. I went to make jam and ended up with a pretty high end gourmet sauce- oh well!

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