Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Jam"-ing Out Part Deux

So the other day, I had my first canning experience, and I decided that I should not delay the second.  Yesterday I had my first attempt at canning, by myself.  While I had confidence that I remembered all the steps I had been shown the previous day, I still was a bit nervous about the whole process.  But I figure, practice makes perfect.

The recipe I chose to make this time around was for Strawberry Honey Jam. 

There was really not a whole lot to the recipe.  The first step was to cut up all of the fruit.  The recipe called for 6 pounds of strawberries

and 1 1/2 apples grated.

Once those were all prepped, throw the fruit as well as the honey and lemon in to a large pot on the stove for about an hour.  Once the berries start getting soft, mush them with something such as a potato masher. 

After the mixture is the consistency you would like, either can it, or prep it for the freezer, or refrigerate it for 4-6 weeks.

There were a few things that I learned from making this recipe.  First off, adding about a teaspoon of butter to the mixture when you first start to cook it is a must.  I cannot imagine how much it would have foamed while it was cooking if I had not added it.  Second, mixing is a good thing.  I left the kitchen for about twenty minutes while cooking it, and I came back to a little bit of jam burnt to the bottom of the pan.  Luckily, I was able to salvage 4 pints of jam, but sadly, 2 were lost due to my inability to focus on one thing at once.

Other than that, I think the recipe turned out great.  The kids all said it tastes just like the strawberry jam we buy from the store, while on the plus side, I know exactly what's in it (and I can say/spell all the ingredients without a dictionary).

Here's the recipe for the jam I made Saturday as well as the recipe for the apricot pineapple jam from Friday:

Strawberry Honey Jam
from 100 Days of Real Food Blog

  • 6 pounds strawberries and/or blueberries, local/organic recommended
  • 3 ¾ cup honey
  • 1 ½ unpeeled apples, grated
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

    1. Make Jam: Rinse the berries and remove any spoiled or severely blemished ones. Hull strawberries and slice in half.
    2. Add the berries, honey, grated apple, and lemon juice to a large pot over high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to continue to boil lightly for approximately 30 – 60 minutes. The berries will burst and thicken so be sure to scrape the sides of the pot and stir as you go. The longer the jam cooks the thicker the final product will be.
    3. Mash the fruit with a potato masher once the fruit begins to soften. If foam forms on top of the fruit you can skim and discard if desired.
    4. Prepare Jars: Meanwhile fill the canning pot ¾ full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. If you don’t have your jars sterilizing in a hot dishwasher you can use this pot of water to sterilize them. Also start a small pot of boiling water to sterilize the lids separately. Be sure to wash all jar pieces in hot soapy water first.
    5. Once the water is boiling turn off the heat. Test the temperature with your thermometer and when it reaches 180 degrees F put the jars and bands in the large pot and the lids in the small pot. Leave everything in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.
    6. When the jam is done cooking do a taste test to make sure the thickness and flavor is to your liking. Hint from Ashley: Drop dots of jam on a cold refrigerated plate, if it seems to set up, it is done. You can also see if it coats the back of a spoon.
    7. Remove the first jar from the hot water using your jar lifter tool and shake out excess water. Don’t touch inside of the jar in order to keep it sterilized. Insert clean canning funnel and ladle the jam into the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top (this is where the headspace tool can come in handy – leaving more space at the top might not give as good of a seal). If there are any air bubbles you can slide a clean knife along the inside of the jar to remove them. Using a clean rag wipe excess off the outside of the jar and rim.
    8. Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.
    9. Note (If you don’t want to actually “can” the jam): You could stop here and refrigerate jam for 3 – 4 weeks. To freeze the jam make sure you used freezer-safe jars, allow it to cool, and put in freezer for up to one year.
    10. Process the Jars: Bring large pot of water back to a boil. Using your jar lifter (or canning rack) carefully lower as many jars that will fit without overcrowding into the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1 – 2 inches of water. It is recommended that the jars do not directly touch the bottom of the pot (so hot water can flow beneath them) and some even suggest putting a dish towel on the bottom to create space. From the moment the water is boiling and the entire first batch of jars are submerged set the timer and process them for 10 minutes.
    11. When 10 minutes is over use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water. Put them on the counter and don’t move them right away. You will hear your jar lids “popping” which means they have been sealed properly. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 3 – 4 weeks.
    12. Remove bands from sealed jars and with a clean, wet cloth wipe off any jam that has congealed on the outside rim of the jar. This prevents mold from forming on the band. The band can be reapplied, but don’t screw them on too tightly.
    13. Label jar and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.

    Apricot Pineapple Jam
    (From the MCP insert)

    4 cups apricots, diced into chunks
    1 cup pineapple, diced into chunks
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    1 package pectin (I used MCP brand)
    8 cups sugar

    Put apricots, pineapple, lemon juice, and pectin into a large pot on the stove.  Heat to a rolling boil.  Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add sugar.  Mix unitl there are no chunks of sugar, then bring back to a rolling boil.  Once there, cook for 2 minutes.

    After cooking the mixture for 2 minutes, fill your jars and process for canning.

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