|Posted by Angela Diaz on July 25, 2015 at 12:20 AM|
I learned how to make and can jam this past Wednesday. Supposedly one of the first things people learn how to make and can, but I never learned. My reason for this delay is because I don't eat jams, jellies, preserves, or marmalades. I never have. I was the one kid that hated PB&J sandwiches. I wouldn't eat a jelly filled donut. I would shudder at the thought of jelly on my toast. Blech! So why on earth did I use a whole vacation day to do this? Here's why:
1. My kids actually like the stuff. So it's not like I'm making something that will go to waste or have to be given away. They'll eat this and I would be saving money because I currently buy this weird substance at grocery stores.
2. Seems like a good and practical way to use up and preserve in season fruits. Canning peach halves and freezing berries for smoothies gets old and tired after a while.
3. I want to broaden my canning skills. This is a new skill requiring new ingredients (pectin).
4. I figured this might turn out like applesauce. Not literally, but it might turn out to be the same as my apple sauce canning experiment. I don't generally eat (or buy) applesauce. It's a jar of weird mush. I just don't like it much. I don't detest it like jelly and jam, but I don't prefer it. I made a few dozen jars of apple sauce (quite by accident actually. I was trying to make apple juice). Anyways, this apple sauce had to be the most amazing apple sauce I had ever tasted. The texture was perfect, the sweetness was perfect, and I knew exactly what was in it. I didn't think that we would eat all those jars, and so gave about a dozen of them away. Lo and behold, I ran out of apple sauce. We scarfed them all down within a few short months. I most definitely will be making a few dozen jars again this year (but not giving any of them away). So what's to say that I wouldn't like jam if I made it myself? It's worth a shot, eh?
So here's what I did. On Tuesday night I went to a local farmer's flea market and purchased a bunch of fruits (and some veggies like green beans for canning as well since they're in season). I took a personal day on Wednesday to make sure I could focus and concentrate my efforts to this new experiment. I watched You Tube videos Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Pulled out my Ball Book of Canning along with some other canning books that I borrowed from the library to compare recipes and whatnot. I found the easiest method for me and went to work.
The result? I canned up 24 half-pint jars of different jams. I made red raspberry jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, and cherry jam. Wow. I've never had that many jars of jam in my house at once! I was so proud of how beautiful my jars looked that I cleared out a whole shelf in my cabinet just for these lovely jars. I figured these should last about a year, no? Well, that's what I thought until my 8-year old daughter asked me to open a strawberry jam jar for her. I obliged of course, being very proud of myself for making this and someone actually requesting it. I opened it up for her and went back to cleaning up the kitchen. When I peaked in on her in the living room a short time later, what I saw made the blood drain out of my face. She was sitting in the couch holding an EMPTY strawberry jam jar. She ate the whole thing in one sitting! Right out of the jar! With a spoon! I slaved for hours all day in the kitchen making what I thought was one year's worth of jam, when in actuality I only made 24 days' worth of jam for my 8-year old! Well, needless to say, the cabinet I cleared off for jams is the highest cabinet in the kitchen. If she doesn't know they're there, I can make them last for a year. I'll just take down one jar every two weeks (and supervise the usage of that jar's contents, lol).
I'd also like to note that during the canning process, I had to taste test the batches I was working on and to my surprise, I very much enjoyed them. Crushed fruit, sugar, and a few tablespoons of pectin. I controlled how much sugar I added (I used the no sugar needed, or low sugar pectin). I went this route because all other recipes used way too much sugar (5 cups of crushed fruit to 7 cups of sugar?! WTF!?) My ratio was about 3 cups of crushed fruit to 3/4 cup of sugar. I can see me enjoying these jams a little bit. I won't eat a whole jar in one sitting and I probably won't spread it on every piece of cracker or toast that I find, but I will have some from time to time. Taste the fruit of my labors.