Monday, August 9, 2010

"The radar, sir... it appears to be .. jammed"

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.

This little homesteader has learned many new tricks as I've combed over books, blogs, and websites looking for guidance to the canning process.  Here's a list of things I wish I would have known before starting:

  • 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-jalapeƱo.. could be plum-raspberry.
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1 comment:

  1. Love this post! Reminds me of my first attempt at chokecherry jelly. What an incredible, unbelievable mess. I, too, have recently purchased the Ball Blue Book... and feel a growing sense of optimism toward the whole canning thing. :)




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