You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Canning’ category.

All my happy jam jars getting ready to for storage.

All my happy jam jars getting ready to for storage.

I found blackberries at the farmer’s market yesterday. They were so big and dark, and they called me over to the table with their siren song promise that they would make good jam, especially if I mixed them in with some other summer berries, like blueberries and raspberries. I agreed to take three pints home (oddly enough, the farmer knew I wanted three before I even opened my mouth) and whip up a quick batch of mixed berry jam.

For this I used two pints of blackberries, three 6 ounce containers of raspberries, and enough blueberries to get a total of 5 cups mashed fruit. I followed the recipe for berry jam that came wiht the pectin (5 cups cruched berries, 7 cups sugar, and 1 package of pectin), but I added just a squirt of lemon juice. This filled 7 half-pint jars and left over almost 2 cups to put in the fridge for immediate consumption.

So far this summer I have made strawberry jam, strawberry lemon marmalade, blueberry spice jam, blueberry marmalade, and mixed berry jam (for more complete jam instructions, check out this earlier post: Strawberry Jam Session). My jam shelf is full, and yet there’s more I plan to make! I want some peach jam, and maybe some raspberry jam if I can get out to pick them myself. It’s a lot of work, but Thing 1 reminded me yesterday of why I do it when she remarked on how much she appreciates eating these jams in the dead of winter, when we can’t get local fruit.

Since there’s now so much fresh jam around, we decided to do a little jam tasting this morning. I made some blue corn muffins from the recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book. These muffins come out of the oven smelling like freshly popped popcorn, though they were a little dry and crumbly (maybe next time I’ll add a little more butter or replace the sugar with hiney to fix that). We each cut a muffin in quarters and sampled four jams: blueberry spice, blueberry marmalade, mixed berry, and strawberry marmalade. They were all roll-your-eyes-back-in-ecstasy good, but the blueberry marmalade get extra marks for having the perfect texture to spread on a crumbly muffin.

Wonderful dark Blueberry Spice Jam cooling on the counter.

Wonderful dark Blueberry Spice Jam cooling on the counter.

Blueberry season is going strong here at the Jersey Shore, and I could not resist getting a case to make some jams. Not too long ago I could have gone and hand picked them locally, but my picking spot is now out of business, and though those bushes are still out there bearing buckets of unpicked berries, I’m not the trespassing sort.

But when I saw Jersey Fresh berries for sale at the local supermarket, I loaded up the cart with berries, pectin, and extra jars and rushed home to get to work. Twelve dry pints (one case) of berries produced three batches of jams, with one pint leftover for tomorrow’s breakfast. I made two batches of Blueberry Spice Jam, which is the blueberry recipe included in the Ball powdered pectin box with a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon added, and one batch of Blueberry Lemon Marmalade.

I’m not going to go through all the steps again, but if you missed my first jam post and want to see the process, it’s here: Strawberry Jam Session. Just remember a few key things, and all will be well when you undertake your own canning adventure:

  1. This isn’t brain surgery. The process is easy but time consuming. Have fun.
  2. Hygiene is important, so make sure your jars, utensils, and hands are clean.
  3. Hot jam is really hot, so use care when handling it. Protect your hands, and of course, your feet, unlike me. Again:
Do as I say, not as I do.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Strawberries. Lots of them.

Strawberries. Lots of them.

Today while I was driving home from my weekly guitar lesson I spotted a sign at the local garden center. It said “Fresh Local Strawberries.” This is not a sign I can drive past.

I bought a full case of strawberries (8 quarts) to take home and turn into jam. I had planned to do this today anyway, but my plans had included taking the family out to the no-doubt-muddy-after-all-that-rain strawberry farm and let (make) them pick berries for me. Getting the same local berries from a favorite local business got my family off the hook.

This afternoon those 8 quarts of strawberries were transformed into 2 batches of strawberry jam (a dozen 12-ounce jars), a batch of strawberry lemon marmalade (7 8-ounce jars), and a batch of strawberry mint preserves (4 8-ounce jars). That’s a whole lot of jam now cooling on my counter.

Here’s how I made all that jam, following the recipe that came with the powdered pectin:

Step one: Wash jars in hot water and put them in the canner and fill with enough water to cover the jars by an inch. Bring this to a boil. This will both sterilize the jars and get them ready to be filled with molten hot jam.

Step two: While the water in the canner comes to a boil, rinse, hull, cut, and crush the berries according the the directions of whatever recipe you use (always use a proven recipe, please, especially if you are a beginner). Put this in a big pot (I use and 8 quart soup pot), with lemon juice, a little butter (less than 1/2 tsp), and the pectin. At about this time I take a few ladles of hot water from the canner and put it in the heat proof bowl with the lids to soften them.


Step three: Turn the heat on high, and bring the berries to a rolling boil. Then add lots and lots of sugar, and stir well to dissolve. Bring this to a rolling boil again, stirring constantly, then boil at like crazy for a minute. Remove from heat.

Step four: Skim the foam off the top of the jam, if you want. I usually do, but I don’t actually know if this is strictly necessary or just for show. Remove the very hot jars from the hot water and drain (I drain them right into the canner). Fill with hot jam using a funnel to within 1/4″ of the top. Be careful, this stuff is HOT.


Step five: Place the lid on the jar. Be careful, those mothers are HOT.


Step six: Put the bands on over the lids and tighten just a bit with your hands, but do not force. I use a special tool to hold the hot jars steady while I do this. Be careful, all this stuff is still really HOT.


Step seven: Put the jars back into the canner and bring to a boil. I am at sea level here, so I boil for 10 minutes. Your boiling time will vary radically depending on where you are, so read the directions.


Step eight: Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel someplace where you don’t mind them being for the next 12-24 hours. Hang around for a while to hear the pleasing popping sound each jar makes at it cools, which tells you that you’ve made a perfect vacuum seal.


Step nine: The next day, once the jars are totally cool, check the lids by removing the bands. Label the jars and include the date. Use within a year.

One more safety note: when you are placing the jam into the jars, everything is hot. The jars are hot. The jam is hot. Any water dripping off the jars or lids is hot. Things will drip, so be smart and wear something that protects your precious feet fro molten jam. Don’t be an fool and wear flip flops. Hubby took a photo of my feet, which demonstrates that I was poorly raised and act like a fool:


March 2019
« Jan    

About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.