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!
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.
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!
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!)