Today’s post is about freezer jam, canning and preserving…
…so lately, you’ve heard me talk about how much I love making freezer jam. My girlfriend Amanda was talking about it one day and then later, brought me a jar and we LOVED it. I asked Amanda how she made it and bam. I was off to make me some jam…
I quickly became obsessed with making freezer jam and friends, I now have over 50 jars in my freezer. I know. I need to stop. But I LOVE making it!! I find it easy, relaxing and quite satisfying to eat. Here’s what you do…
1: First, you buy pectin at the grocery store. Now, my store sells two different kinds, and I’ve tried them both. The one of the left is powdery, so you boil it with water as part of the recipe. The one of the right is liquid, so you literally just add it in (you get to skip the extra step of boiling it with water). My store sells pectin in two places…by the pudding/Jello and such and then also by the canning jars. After you pick your Pectin, you…
2: Get out the recipe list from inside the box. Easy as that. Right in each box there is a recipe for all sorts of freezer jams. YOU MUST FOLLOW THE RECIPES EXACTLY. I’ve been reading a ton about making jam (see below) and the number one thing I’ve learned is to follow the recipes EXACTLY. Do not modify the amounts of fruit, sugar or especially citrus (because that’s in there for a reason). If you do it wrong, not only will your jam not turn out, but you could cause bacteria to grow inside your jar. No thanks. So far, I’ve made raspberry, blackberry and strawberry freezer jam. Another tip is to make sure you are using fruit that is in season. If your fruit is blah (my blueberries right now are blah), then your jam will be too. So, wait until your fruit is at its peak and then make jam.
3: You process your fruit and start making jam. Easy. On this day, I was making strawberry freezer jam. I use my blender to crush my fruit and then measure it exactly into my measuring cup.
This recipe called for 4 cups of crushed strawberries.
I have found that it takes more fruit than you think, so buy enough! Also, check your recipe in advance and make sure you have enough sugar too. I like to make my freezer jam and store them in 8 oz jars (that have been cleaned!!). To clean my jars for freezer jam, I use my dishwasher and wash all three parts (jar, ring and lid). You have to start with clean jars!!!
This stuff seriously makes things so easy!! With one recipe, I can typically get 8 little jars of jam.
So, that’s freezer jam.
Canning is a whole other thing.
Here we go.
After I realized how much I enjoyed making freezer jam, I decided to dive into canning and preserving.
After a little research, I learned two very important things:
- Don’t use other people’s recipes.
- Go to a trusted source ONLY
At first, I did what I always do…I went to Pinterest and started pinning. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that other people’s pins might be fantastic…or they might not be exactly right, and if you can something incorrectly, your food could easily become contaminated with things that could kill someone who ate it.
Let me say that again.
If you can incorrectly (and eat it!), you could die.
It says that on the internet.
Insert me being really nervous at this point.
So, TONS of people online (and even you guys!) told me to read these books…
Side note, I do not know the people at Ball and this is not sponsored…but after all of my research, I seriously consider them the authority on canning and preserving, and I would not start off canning and preserving without using their methods and recipes.
As you can see by my sticky notes, I read through both books more than once and marked the heck out of them. I was underlining, highlighting, tagging and memorizing major segments of both books because I don’t want to can something and then it have a bacteria in it that could harm someone.
(Another side note, it was about at this point that I realized canning and preserving is not the relaxing hobby I thought it would be. Hahahahaha!)
After all of my research, I realized step one was having the right material on hand for this process.
Here is what I already had:
1: A dutch oven (see my white one back there in the pic below)
2: Non-reactive spatulas
3: A large medal spoon
4: A candy thermometer
5. A food processor
Here is what I needed to buy:
1: Jars that were the correct size for the correct recipes
2: A stainless steel waterbath canner and rack (pictured on the right back there in the pic below)
3: A canning kit that included all of the utensils I would need to remove air bubbles, funnel in my food, etc.
So, I marked down a ton of recipes that I want to try (Worcestershire Sauce, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, pickles, candied jalapenos and more!), but thought I would start off with good old-fashioned marmalade. It took me two hours and only produced three large jars, but friends, it made me proud. Ha!
I did not anticipate it taking me so long, but the process is tedious (washing jars, keeping jars warm in hot water on the stove, chopping and preparing fruit, boiling down fruit in my dutch oven (stirring pretty constantly), removing foam, adding hot marmalade to hot jars and then processing them…which is when you add the jars back into the boiling water). When it was over, my jars had to sit for 12 hours and then I had to remove the rings and “test” the lids to make sure they were sealed tight. I was so nervous because if they weren’t, it was all for nothing. Agh!
Here I am about to get my fruit/sugar mixture going…
…and here it is after it’s been bubbling a bit.
My jars, meanwhile, have been staying warm in here.
And then the next day (after sitting 12 hours), I had this…
JARS OF MARMALADE!
Hahahahaha! I was so proud! We have already opened one jar and it’s so good!!! The other two jars and tucked away in the pantry and can be saved for up to 12 months. How cool is that?!
And now…I’m off to can something else.
I’ve decided that canning and preserving has its peaceful moments (which is what I love when cooking), but it also has its share of stressful moments too. My takeaways from my first adventure in canning are to make sure you use trusted recipes only (I will not be using the random recipes I pinned on Pinterest), make sure you have the right jars, make sure your jars, lids and rings are properly cleaned BEFORE you start and do not alter the recipe one bit. My kiddos think it’s so fun that we’re diving into this. Plus, I’m excited that this summer when my veggie garden gets out of control (like it does every year), I can can some of the produce to eat later on.
Okay, all of you home canners and preservers…give me your tips. I covet all of them!!
…this is like my favorite flavor combination. Ever. In the history of the world.