Thursday, September 13, 2012

Homemade Jam

Well we did it. We finally took the plunge and tried it. We made and canned our own jam. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected, and so far the preserving has been a piece of cake.

I did the first batch on my own, early last week. I wanted to take it slow and read through the instructions as I went. Even so, I still ended up a little confused.

At this point I have about four home canning instruction/cook books, plus the original booklet from my 1977 MirroMatic Pressure cooker, and of course the internet in all of its vast and unending glory. Needless to say I had a bit of information overload. In the end I used simple pectin free recipe that I found online and combined information on preserving from everything else.

The first step was to gather and wash all the supplies. This is what I thought was all the supplies before I started. Add a couple spoons, frying pan, ladle, cooling racks, paper towel, magnetic wand, hand towel, huge pot, small pot, jars, lids and sealing rings, and then maybe you have everything. Lucky for me I had everything, just not in the picture.

The next step was measuring out ingredients. I don't mind raspberry seeds at all. some people might prefer to have them removed, but I think they're just fine. I just squished them up by hand and measured it out.

Then I added sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. Almost all of the sugar in our house.

This is what it looks like after being cooked for a bit. Beautiful gem tone jam. I was a little worried that it was too fluid, but it thickens as it cools. There was a bit of foam, but that was removed easily by using a spoon and scooping it out.

While the jam was cooking I did some serious mulitasking. I had jam cooking to perfection on the lower right burner, jars sterilizing on the lower left, lids and rims sterilizing on the upper right and pressure cooker boiling on the upper left. Whew!

Filling the sterile jars with jam was actually really fun. Really messy and sticky, but fun. I don't have pictures of this step because 1 I was trying to be as sterile as possible and didn't want to touch my phone that I drag everywhere ( I didn't want sticky fingerprint on my phone either) 2 I really didn't want pictures of my stove top splattered with jam drippings floating around the internet. Trust me though, this part was really fun.

So next I loaded up the pressure cooker with the filled jars of jam, sealed it and let it do its thing (while cautiously peeking around the corner from the next room). I admit I'm still not completely comfortable with this device. I just about bit my husbands head off the other night for just touching the pressure control without having properly read the instructions first. It hasn't exploded yet though, so I guess we're doing okay.

After processing and having released the pressure, I removed the jars and let them cool. I'm not sure how long it was, it seemed like no more than ten or fifteen minutes later, I began to hear the sweet sound of little tinks coming from the kitchen. The lids make a little popping sound as they cool, but only if the jars have sealed properly. I think this sound put a smile on my face that was a mile wide.

After a few days of waiting for the jam to settle and searching thoroughly for signs of spoilage, we tested it out...and it tasted like jam! pretty good jam too.

My husband really wanted to help with the blackberries. He loves blackberry jam. We made two more batches yesterday with the blackberries. One recipe included just a bit of lemon. The second we added a bit of orange juice since the last of our blackberries weren't quite as ripe as they could be. My husband insisted that we remove the seeds from these since they tend to be a bit more noticeable.

We used a food mill to remove the seeds and any insides that wouldn't taste as sweet. It worked out really well. The process for the blackberry jam was pretty much the same as that of the raspberry, except it went much smoother since I wasn't double checking my sources every step of the way.

The fruit of our labor!

Five and a half jars of blackberry jam and six jars of raspberry (Some is already in our fridge). Turns out I really like canning stuff. This week I will be trying to can green beans from farmers market, and then in October we can look forward to apple butter from the tree in our back yard.

If you're interested in trying it yourself, here are the recipes for raspberry and blackberry jam that we used.

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