Friday, July 11, 2008

Let the Canning Begin

Filling the jars with beautiful purple jam

Finished sealed jars of the lovely stuff, delicious on almond butter sandwiches!

I made my first batch of 2008 preserves this morning, blueberry jam, while Drew and Ella were at the beach playing. Though not a complicated project, it takes a little bit of focussed time, and I finally had it!

The first step involves unearthing the canning gear, which was spread out in various localities around our property: the canner itself was forlorn in the garden after being used for a misguided cooking project in February, the rack and lid were in the shipping container, some jars were in the shed, while others were in a cupboard, and I found the fancy hinged tool that allows one to remove boiling glass jars from scalding water in the drawer with the plates. (Someday, all these items will be stored in an actual pantry, and this annual act of scavenger hunting will be a thing of the past).

Once I began heating sterilization water in the canner, I remembered that we are low on propane. Since I didn't have the car, I prayed that I wouldn't run out mid-project. (Prayer was answered).

For those interested in the process of canning, it's really not so hard. Basically, you make your jam by following your recipe, mixing berries, lemon juice, calcium water and bringing to a boil; mixing your sugar and pectin together dry; pitching the sugar/pectin mixture into the jam; heating glass jars and caps to sterilize; filling your jars with the hot jam; placing caps and rings on the jars, and then placing the sealed jars into the water bath and boiling for 5 minutes. Voila, JAM! An enjoyable treat, especially in December or January, when fresh blueberries (or whatever else) are a distant memory of summer.

Here is the recipe I used, from Pomona's Pectin insert. I doubled the recipe:

Blueberry Jam:

4 cups mashed berries
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp calcium water (follow directions in the Pectin packet to make)

Place in pan together. Bring to a boil. Mix together in a bowl:

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. pectin

Add to the boiling jam. Stir rapidly for two minutes, return to a boil and remove from heat. Ladle into sterile jars, wipe rims, place caps and screw on lids. Boil in a water bath for 5 minutes (if you live at 1,000 ft elevation or below).

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