Fall in Kansas = Homemade Jam

I grew up in the sticks…..like waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere Kansas. My family hunted, fished, and gardened all passed down through several generations. For as long back I can remember we have canned tomatoes, froze vegetables, froze meat, and preserved jam. As a child I didn’t see the point but as I have gotten older (presumably wiser) I find that I have the desire to do all those things that I used to think were dumb.

I just bought 1/2 a prime Kansas side of beef from a local rancher friend. This means our freezer will be FULL of beef for the year. I love locally grown Kansas grain fed beef (drool). However, I had some fruit I harvested from my grandparents trees, vines, bushes, etc in the freezer that needed to be worked up to make room. So I decided to can some jam!

A short trip to Walmart for sone essentials and I was ready to go! I had the fruit for and wanted to make sour cherry, mixed red/black raspberry, and mixed berry. My grandmother always used Sure Jell and got great results. So that’s what I use. It’s great because the recipe inside usually only calls for fruit, sugar, and pectin. I follow the instructions inside the box in case any one is wanting my recipe, lol.

I love cooking and watching the food transform, especially with home grown hand picked produce! Downside to this process, I only have one large burner on my stove so I had to do a lot of pot and pan swapping and shuffling!

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I cooked the fruit in the large burner and sterilized my jars in my canning pot on the small burner. (And drinking a coke to keep my energy up). When the jam was fully cooked I poured into the jars on the counter while moving the canning pot to the big burner to bring it to boil so I could seal the jars. And then switching back again to start the next batch.

On a side note, I don’t like big chunks of fruit so I run it through a food processor to make smooth before I cook it. I like the nutrition (ha, that is before the multiple cups of sugar added of course) and flavor of the whole fruit, just not the chunky texture.

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After four hours of processing, cooking, switching, and shuffling I had seven batches of jam that made the equivalent of 41 half pints of jam!

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My notes on this project:

– I had waaaay more fruit than I thought and now I have waaaay more jam than I can eat! Undoubtedly some of this will end up as Christmas presents 🙂

– I was not as exact as I should have been on my measurements as I should have been. Therefore some of my jam batches set “harder” or thicker than others. Oh well, it still tastes good!

– Having only one larger burner slowed this process down way to far. Argh….

– Some of my jars didn’t seal right away after canning and I freaked. If they don’t seal you have to freeze them and they don’t have as long if a shelf life. Turned out I panicked early because by morning when they were completely cool, they all sealed! Thank heavens 🙂

Mostly I found that I enjoy working with food and my own two hands. Probably why I also like knitting because I create things with my hands. While I spent hours in the hot kitchen I still had a good time and have goods to show for my effort!

Happy Knitting! (And canning!)

6 thoughts on “Fall in Kansas = Homemade Jam

  1. Looks wonderful! I love homemade jelly/jam. I picked up some Muscadine Jelly at a place in town and I’ll be picking up another jar later this week. It’s just so much better than what you buy in the supermarket.

    I like using my hands too. It is rewarding to open the freezer or look in the cabinets and see all of your hard work, and then to get to eat it all. Yum! We don’t have space for a garden, but were allowed to use a few rows of a friend’s plot a couple summers ago. We canned something like 40 quarts of dill pickles, 10 quarts of pickled jalapenos, 20 quarts of crushed tomato, 12 quarts of tomato juice, and 6 pints of sweet pickle relish. We also froze a lot of produce that year.

    I can’t wait until we have a house of our own, hopefully with space to have a small garden. Enjoy your hard work… on biscuits or toast or something. 🙂 Yummy!

      • We found them pretty easy. I pickled them just like we did dill pickles. My husband LOVES pickled jalapenos–eats them as a snack just by themselves. I use them in cooking a lot or as a topping, like for nachos or something.

        We use 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts water (usually 1 qt to 3 qts will be enough for 8-10 qts of pickles/pickled jalapenos) with 1 cup of pickling salt for our pickling liquid (for either pickles or pickled jalapenos). Chop the jalapenos (wear rubber gloves!!!) and pack tightly into jars. We add a fresh clove of garlic to each jar as well ’cause we like the flavor.

        Bring the pickling liquid to a boil on the stove, covered. We boil our lids also, so do that while the pickling liquid comes to a boil. When the pickling liquid is boiling hot, ladle it into the jars up to the neck of the jar (leaving about 1/2 inch of space to the lid), wipe the rim of the jar, use tongs to place a lid on top, and then screw on a ring, just hand-tight. Set jars on the counter, away from drafts (I cover them with kitchen towels because I’m paranoid) and allow to seal. It might take a few hours.

        Any jars that don’t seal, just put them in the fridge and use them within about 6 months. The pickling liquid is strong enough to ward off any bacteria. I’ve never had an unsealed jar in the fridge spoil on me.

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