Canning is so cool!
Seriously. When you hear that canning sound after hours of work it is the BEST SOUND EVER!!!!
So over the weekend of July 4th we bought a half bushel of peaches and 5 quarts of strawberries. Yea!
Plus, I had the inkling like I was going to write this so I took LOTS of pictures!
A few helpful hints and things to remember before we get started.
- CANNING TAKES FOREVER! It really does. You have a lot of prep to do on your fruit or veggies, you have to boil a huge amount of water, heat the lids and rings, not to mention actually cooking the "insert yummy item here". So plan a head. Leave a half a day free for canning. You'll use it all.
- Make sure you have all of your ingredients. Stop rolling your eyes. I was ready to make jam and forgot just how much sugar it took. YOWZA!!! Thankfully I had an extra...two bags...in our pantry.
- This shit gets hot. Really hot!!! It's almost as bad as making hard candy. I'm talking burn you before you can get it off hot. So be careful.
- Don't rush! There are a couple steps that always sound as if they're going to be quick but they're not, so take your time. You don't want to ruin all the prep work in the home stretch.
- This is awesome! We're going to make jam!!!
Everybody locked and loaded?!? Then let's get to it!
Things you'll need to make jam. The non-food items.
This is a canner. It's big, heavy duty and comes with the wire basket to hold your jars. See the rings on the side? Go ahead and fill this pot up with hot water a bit past the second ring from the bottom and set it to high to get it to boil. It's going to take a while to heat that much water. If you're looking for a canner set I highly recommend this one. And you should be able to get the rest of your supplies at Walmart as well. Target. Ebay is a good place to look too.
Here's the basket that comes with the canner and it's filled with jelly jars. You can actually fit 12 total inside this one.When you buy jars that have never been used before they will come with the lids and rings you need to seal the jars. Take both of those off the jars, and put the jars in the metal basket as shown above.
Place the sealing lids and threaded rings in a saucepan with hot water and heat them up. You don't want to boil these, but you do want to get them pretty toasty.
And this is most of the rest. You have a canning funnel that is multi-sized so you can use it for jelly, pint, and quart jars. A jar lifter so you grab the jars out from the boiling water and not need a trip to the ER. Then you need a set of tongs to get the lids and rings out of the water without touching them. You can also get a lid magnetizer, which I've just never gotten for some reason. And the last thing is a strawberry huller to get the stems out without losing half the fruit. A whole starter kit is here but it doesn't have the better funnel. Plus you'll also need a knife, cutting board, a couple towels, open work counter, and patience. Make sure and put that on the list. :)
Okay, I'm going to do peach first. Yea for you peach lovers out there!!
Ingredients - this is the amount for one batch. If I make a batch and a half I can fill a whole canner which makes it more worth my time.
4 cups of finely chopped peaches
(I blanch my peaches and then dunk them in ice water to get the skins off easier - Here's a video to show you how.)
(and I also use 11-yr-old labor to do the chopping :) I give him a bowl and a pastry blender and he's good to go.)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of butter (this cuts down on the amount of foam produced when cooking the jam which can mess up the canning process)
one box of sure jell
There's an extra box of lids and rings on the upper right because I reused jars for this batch. Jars are awesome to reuse. The lids and rings not so much. They can warp, loose their seal, oxidize from being washed. I toss them after one use and buy a new box. They're really cheap. I've even seen them at several Dollar Stores.
While you're preparing your fruit you'll want to go ahead and put your jars in the hot water. Just dunk them and let them get super duper hot. They will all fall over. Don't be alarmed. :-O
In a big spaghetti pot add your peaches, butter, lemon juice and sure jell. You're going to bring this entire mixture to a full rolling boil. Meaning when you keep stirring it still bubbles. And you want to stir this constantly. When it boils the fruit will expand a bit. You can normally see a change in the fruit when it happens. Gets a bit foamy too.Then you're going to add in your sugar.
And it's a buttload of sugar. Seriously. It's a lot. Don't be alarmed...nor a diabetic.
Here are the two kinds of Sure Jell.
You can get the no sugar added variety and there are recipes specific for that. I've never tried it though so...good luck. :)
Okay, once you add your sugar the consistency of the fruit will change and it will normally stop boiling. The instructions on most recipes will say, "Add sugar and boil for one minute." But you need to RETURN the mixture to a boil and then boil for one minute. This is going to take a while. Keep stirring.
Once it starts to boil. Boil for one minute.
This is what it will look like. Remove it from the heat and get everything else ready. Put a towel on the counter to the side of this pot. Close is good.
Use oven mitts and lift your jars out so the basket rests over the lip of the canner. It's heavy.
Pay no attention to the filled jars of jam behind the curtain! (I forgot to take a picture using the jar lifter so you can see how it works.) It's blurry because it's really steamy. Lift one out at a time and you'll need to drain all the water out from the inside of the jar. I normally work two at a time, so as soon as I'm done with one jar I can move the funnel into the second one and not have to put it on the towel. Jam is SOOOO sticky and will really "jam" up the works if it gets stuck. Ha! I'm so puny.
I lifted one jar out so you can see how the funnel fits, and you'll need your jars and rings ready too. Keep them close. I use that 11-yr-old labor component again. He uses the tongs to get a ring and lid out and dries them with the towel. Try not to use your hands AT ALL. You don't want germs in your jam.
Okay filler up. Get them pretty freaking full. The less space between your product and the lid, the easier it will be to can. As you fill them, make sure there is no jam on the side of the jar rim before you put the lid and ring on. That can cause an issue with canning as well. As soon as you have the lid and ring on put it back in your metal basket. THE JAR IS STILL HOT SO USE THE JAR LIFTER!!!! I speak from experience here. Seriously. Use the lifter.
Depending on your water level. You make need to take some out or add some more boiling water at this stage.
When you drop them back down you'll need the water to cover the lids 1 to 2 inches.
Let them boil for 10 minutes. Spread a clean towel on your counter, somewhere you can leave the jam for 12-24 hours to set. When your timer goes off, lift the basket again and hook it on the rim of the canner. Lift out your jars one at a time and tilt them to the side a bit to drain off the excess hot water from the closed lid.
Set them on the towel and give each of them some space to cool.
If everything went right *crosses fingers* you'll have jars start to can. This normally takes from 5 seconds to 15 minutes. Depends on how much air space you have in the jar that has to vacuum seal. Hearing that sound. IT'S AMAZING! I get giddy, jump up and down, fist pump. It's awesome!!!!
Almost as good as sex! NOW do you see how smutty reads and making jam are similar?!? :)
Now onto the Strawberry!!!
5 cups crushed strawberries
7 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of butter (this cuts down on the amount of foam produced when cooking the jam)
one box of sure jell
Helpful hint - Strawberries are HARD!!! They take forever to chop up. We use a blender.
No matter what, I can't get the strawberries by themselves to blend so we add a tiny bit of water and slush them up. You don't want total liquid though so go easy on the power tools.
You'll follow the other directions the same as above. Add everything but the sugar into a big pot. Heat to rolling boil. Add sugar, heat again to boil, boil one minute.
Strawberry jam gets foamier than peach, even if you add the butter, so once you're done and you've removed it from the heat, skim off any excess foam and put it into a bowl.
(Makes awesome strawberry sundaes but not good jam!)
And you have Strawberry jam! YEA!!!!!!!
OMG if you made it to the bottom of this post you're a saint of some kind.
The Patron Saint of Jam maybe. :)
I had lots of fun sharing my jam experiences with you. Hope everyone gets the jam bug now and feels the need to go out and get canning!
And the sound! Did I tell you how sexy that canning sound is?!?
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