About a month ago, I stood in my kitchen covered with sticky jam that was also oozing everywhere on my countertop, stove top, and any other surface I had been recently. I had been Jammed.
That was my first attempt at making jam in my lifetime armed only with the instructions from the box of pectin. It turns out that there are a few extra tricks to learn. After doing much more research, I now have a kitchen filled with all kinds of canned goods and I'm starting to get that crazed look of a home canner as I peddle the fruits of my labor off on anyone who happens to stop by.
Me: "Take a jar of jam home with you"
Hapless victim: "No, I couldn't."
Me: "PLEASE! I'll give you two! Give one away. You must know people who need jam!"
Hapless victim flees the house before I can peddle another jar off on them.
- The Ball Blue book guide to preserving and the Ball website are a great one stop shop to find everything I needed. I could have saved hours by having this book in my bookshelf - which it now is.
- The purpose of a canning rack is to keep your jars from touching the bottom of the pot when you are boiling them. There is only a small space keeping your jars from touching the bottom and thats ok. Don't ask me why this utterly confused me but it did and I couldn't find any pictures on the internet to show me what to do. Now if I had bought the Ball Blue Book first.......
- If you don't fill you jar all the way up with jam you will end up with bubbles or a capsized jar in your canner. Neither are worth it. If you have extra jam, let it firm up then put it in the fridge and eat it.
- If its summer and you don't have wickedly awesome Air Conditioning then do your canning in the morning so you don't heat up the house.
- Fresh, firm fruit = firmer jam. Soft ripe fruit = softer jam. Mind boggling.
- Use a big towel under your jars when you are filling them and you can throw it in the wash for quicker cleanup.
- Find your jars at garage sales or thrift stores.
- This final tip is very important.... Label your jars immediately. I have several jars of surprise jam, could be strawberry-jalapeño.. could be plum-raspberry.