Posted on 23 Comments

In a jam

Strawberries for jam

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.

Rhubarb for jam

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.

Cooling

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.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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!

Posted on 23 Comments

23 thoughts on “In a jam

  1. looks delish Lisa. as long as you heard the “ping” the lids make when they cool you are good to go with the seal. Wanna trade a jar of that for some high sugar pomegranate jelly?

    1. Tempting! I’ve never had pomegranate jelly. I’ll bet it’s a beautiful color. If you’re serious, drop me a line and count me in!

  2. I made several batches of strawberry jam on Sunday, though mine is freezer jam. There’s nothing like pulling a batch of homemade jam out of the freezer in the middle of a February blizzard. I could eat the stuff with a spoon straight out of the container.

    1. Mmm, yes. As a kid, grape jelly was the only jam-like substance I would eat. The day I discovered I liked strawberry jam (oh, 8 years ago, maybe?) was a happy day indeed 🙂

      How does the flavor of freezer jam compare to that of cooked jam?

      1. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison, but my freezer version matches the taste I remember from my childhood. If you have an extra freezer, I recommend you try a batch and let us know which you think is better. BTW…freezer jam takes all of 20 mins to make and you only need one large bowl and one small saucepan.

        1. This is the recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Strawberry-Freezer-Jam/Detail.

          It’s kinda “jelly-for-dummies” but it’s yummy!

          1. Thanks! I don’t have a whole lot of room in my freezer at the moment, but maybe I can handle a small batch 🙂

  3. Freezer jam tastes much, much fresher, especially the strawberry! We are addicted to freezer strawberry jam. The Ball Blue Book is Hubby’s second Bible.

    See what Marty has been blogging about: The Story I Promised

    1. My copy is 20 years old and from the library. I may have to invest in the new (100th anniversary!) version and keep it for future reference.

      Definitely getting more curious about freezer jam…

  4. Keep us updated. I am thinking of doing the whole canning thing too…but I want some guinea pigs to go before me. 🙂

    See what dani@little fists has been blogging about: Here, There, and Everywhere

    1. Haha, well, it went well, and all of the jars sealed, except for one that I didn’t process properly due to lack of room in the pot. I’ll definitely do this again, with whatever fruit comes next, once I buy an extra stock pot.

  5. Congratulations on your first batch! Well done! Lucky teachers!

    If you buy a funnel, be sure to get a wide mouthed one, made especially for canning…they sit snugly on the rim of the jar. And tongs made with the grabber part shaped like the circumference of jars. Small investments that make the job a lot easier.

    And thanks so much for the link to my blog…

    1. Thanks for the tips – that what I was planning to look for 🙂

  6. Hurrah! I used to can when I was a teen, and I was just lamenting on Sunday over the fact that my mother got rid of her large canning bath and rack years ago. Looking forward to getting back into it – I MUST make strawberry-rhubarb jam!!

    1. Isn’t that just the way? My mother has thrown out things that nobody ever thought they’d use again, and then I inevitably develop an interest!

      Not to tempt you further, but the jam was delicious today for lunch with natural peanut butter on homemade wheat bread 🙂

  7. Lisa you sure do take the prettiest pictures! Love the third one. Has a dream like quality to it. Looks like a memory of when I used to make jam. It has been a few years but I really enjoyed the process. (And the consuming, of course! :-)) Your jam looks wonderful! Bet it tastes great too!

    1. Thanks, Cindy! I’m trying to be more mindful of the photos I take, and I’m also doing a bit of playing around with Paint Shop Pro, after I take them. I tried to make these have a bit of a vintage feel to them.

  8. I made strawberry jam this weekend with a friend. It really is good to have all the tools. I invested in a good stock pot, a rack for smaller jars, and all the tools last year. Totally worth it. So far I’ve made peach jam, apple butter, apple pie filling, apple sauce (we had a LOT of apples), and strawberry jam. Definitely worth the investment for the right tools!

    1. I think you’re right. In fact, if I didn’t have to put my kids to bed in half an hour, I’d be running out right now to the store. I’m eager to build up a collection of canned goodies! Guess I don’t have to be in such a rush yet – the harvest season has barely caught up with my enthusiasm 🙂

  9. Chiming in on freezer jam – if you love the taste of strawberries fresh from the farmer’s market, then you’ll probably love strawberry freezer jam. I’ve made it once, and would love to do it again, except I’m a little bit short on freezer space.

    And for some reason, I came across a good article on canning this morning, and thought of you. Here’s a link:
    http://www.tampabay.com/features/food/cooking/article1006336.ece

    1. Actually, I don’t really like strawberries fresh! I’m probably better off trying a small batch sometime. Thanks for the link!

  10. This is the most important tip you will recieve on jam. I’m doing a demo on jamming for my CSA on Saturday. Pomona’s Pectin. Buy it and you will understand.

    1. I just googled it, and yeah, that looks very cool. Especially now that I’m watching our sugar intake more carefully. I cringed when I had to add so much sugar to my jam the other day! I’m definitely going to look into that a bit further. Thanks!

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