I had my first experience with canning today. I’ve made small batches of jam before in my bread machine, but they needed to remain refrigerated and only had a 2-month shelf-life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go through jam very fast, and would much prefer to have a supply that I could stretch out into next winter.
So I got my feet wet with an inter-library loan of the Ball Blue Book of Canning (thank you, KarenLR for the recommendation), two quarts of farmers’ market strawberries, and rhubarb from a local farm. It was an all-afternoon affair, during which I learned a few things:
- You can’t get by with just one spaghetti pot – you need a pot for the jars and a pot for the jam, and a smaller saucepan for the lids and such.
- It’s good to have neighbors with spare pots who can rescue you mid-recipe. (Thanks, Heather!)
- If you’ve had an everything bagel for lunch, brush your teeth before you taste the jam, or you’re likely to think your strawberries have developed an onion aftertaste. (I spent a few panicky minutes thinking I’d wasted all afternoon making 4 pints of strawberry rhubarb onion jam, before I realized!)
- If you don’t have a funnel, there will be a mess. A deliciously sticky mess, but a mess nonetheless.
Challenges aside, I managed to fill up the seven half-pint jars I’d sterilized, and still have enough jam left for two small refrigerator containers that could be eaten right away.
It occurred to me that these might make nice teacher gifts, so I prettied them up, and will send them in to school with the boys next week.
I plan to do more of this canning thing, but first I need to buy another pot, preferably bigger than anything I currently have, a funnel, and a pair of tongs better suited to lifting the jars out of the boiling bath than the metal ones I have.
Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I did everything right, and my vacuum seals hold!