Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Can Can...Addiction in the Making

successfulcanning
A month back I posted about how I wanted to learn to can.....and can I did. Thanks to winning LeAnna's giveaway...I got started off on the right foot.
I am a sucker for La Madeleine's Strawberry Rhubarb so I knew that is the first jam I had to give a whirl at. Now mind you I don't have any experience....or the correct pots....but anyone can improvise with what they have in the house and make some precious yummy jams.
My giveaway included the best cookbook in the world.
ball book
Filled with terrific easy recipes that all look de-lic-ious
I had been scouring the net and picking poor LeAnna's brain for weeks reading up on all the ways to can...the Do's and Don'ts of canning. Canning is a lot like sewing or baking or decorating. Most people have their own way to do it....so all tricks seem to vary....You just have to do a little trial and error in order to find what works for you.
The only chance I knew I would have to can would be with the little babies went to bed at night....The whole process from start to clean up took me about 2.5 hrs. It wouldn't have taken so long if I had all my supplies ready from the the get go and all my jars washed...now I know.
I decided to follow the Ball recipe for the Strawberry Rhubarb to a T...I mean after all they are the Ball people. (grins)
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Directions:


  1. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice and pectin in a large saucepot.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil.
  4. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Skim foam if necessary. (I skipped this part)
  7. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  8. Adjust two-piece caps.
  9. Process 10 minutes in water bath.
Mini Me was terrified the whole process. I guess she was worried about it being the first time I tried it...she was afraid I would mess up...me too, but I was so excited she could see me radiating happiness and finally joined in with me.
First I started washing all my jars and lids and rings. Next I filled a shallow pan with water and got it warm for my lids and rings to sit waiting.
(Ok I just realized I need a bigger stove top)
Next, I got my 2 big pots out ...1 for cooking the jam...the other filled with hot water for keeping my jars hot and to process in.
Now off to prepping my fruit.... I started inspecting, washing, and hulling my berries....then it was crushing time.
On to the infamous Rhubarb...I've never worked with this before and no idea how to prepare it...so I just inspected, washed, skinned and chopped. It smelled so clean and fresh when I was chopping it up.
(I think I may have even talked to it telling it how excited I was to finally eat it)
I was unsure of how my jam was supposed to look after the 1 min of hard boiling...I've heard of the spoon test...so instead i just counted to 20 and then took it off the heat.
(that's how I roll)
Kate was busy licking the spoon shouting how it tasted like strawberry candy.....
(now she's getting into it)
Again...I am so happy to have won this giveaway starter package for canning b/c my tongs and funnel came in handy.
(I seem to have lost all my funnels in the house thanks to Lily and her mysterious ways)
Ball-Utensil-Set-four-piece__64886_zoom
My only issue with the whole process was the rack in the bottom of my pan. I didn't have anything to fit ....I "racked" my brain
(get it 'racked' ...oh deep sigh)
I racked my brain coming up with something to work to keep the jars off the bottom of the heat...the whole towel in the bottom wigged me out....so I ended up using the stainer insert that comes with the stock pots for pasta cooking.
It was great ...EXCEPT for the fact that the more jars were added filled with jam...the higher the water got. Since you need at least 1-2" water covering the jars for processing.....I was getting worried.
Sure enough my water began boiling...boiling right out of the pot....it put the flame out of my gas stove and 2 of my burners weren't working. All that would work was my small burner. You ever boiled a big pot on your small burner? Well...thankfully the water was already hot...so it didn't take AS long as I thought.
When the processing time was up....and all my jars were sitting on the counter .......I had a little "awww how cute are they" moment.
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Kate was still freaking out about the water splashing over and putting the flame out....
(she hates gas stoves....I told her I will remember this when she is a wife/mommy one day and loves her gas stove top)
The next morning my kids dove into a gorgeous jar of strawberry rhubarb jam...
(this one I dolled up for Kate's teacher for the first day of school)
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The kids have gone through 3 jars already....Guess I'm off to the store for more fruits. I am so excited to try more flavors out.
If you have a recipe of jams or other canning goodness please send them my way.
Also...I would love to hear any tips you have for canning...I'm compiling a list ...
Thanks...and happy canning.

5 comments:

Angie said...

I do not can. I just haven't gotten into it. However, my mom just gave us four jars of jam to taste test....

Cherry cherry
smokin' blueberry
pepper jammi'
and
Red Velvet Apricot

Mom has always made fun jams and jellies. I can't wait to taste them!

I'm intimidated my the whole canning concept. I feel like it is a long process. Maybe I shouldn't be scared to try it. Hhmmmm.

Annie said...

I stated canning this year too! I am NO expert...so I dont have any advise for you...yet :)

So far I have only made strawberry freezer jam, dill pickles, and bread and butter pickles! It is so fun...and addicting...I just want to can, can, can!!

Southern Belle Mama said...

I've made a freezer jam before, but I've never done any canning. Glad to hear it's not too very hard...it has always intimidated me before.

As a teacher, I can say I'm sure they'll LOVE the jam. What a sweet gesture. :)

Zookeeper Jess said...

Your creativity skills make me jealous. That is all.

mountain mama said...

yay for you! i didn't know you won leanna's giveaway - awesome! you wanted to win so bad!!!!

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