Canning is all over the blogworld right now. I’ve definitely noticed a huge upswing in canning in interest during the past 7 years. My interest in jamming stems directly from a 2002 GetCrafty article by Kirsten Hudson. When I saw the headline of the article – Make Yer Own Damn Jam – a lightbulb went off. And I haven’t looked back. I’ve come so far in the process but really just explored the tip of the canning universe.
Every now and then it occurs to me how far ahead of its time GetCrafty was – the articles from 2000, 2001, 2002 – how could anyone have predicted that a few years later major magazines would have cover features on some of the same topics.
Today it’s been raining off and on. I’ve got a CSA pick up in two hours. I already made the pesto from the basil my sister brought on Saturday. Perfect time to count out my jars, lids, and see what I’m left with for this summer. I usually give away so much jam that every year I need to buy new jars. This year, I have about 2 cases of 8 ounce jars, and one case of 4 ounce jars ready to be filled. I still have a case of 4 ounce jars of apple butter, 1 four ounce jar of peach jam, and 1 eight ounce jar of blueberry jam.
I visited the library and picked up The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. WOW! There are some really amazing recipes in there. The one thing I didn’t care for was that an entire third of the book is meant for freezer recipes. I am really not into freezing that much food. It takes so much energy to run the freezer, especially crammed with food, and the risk of a power failure could destroy everything.
My plans are shaping up. Definitely a blueberry honey jam with Pomona pectin, and likely both a raspberry-peach jam and a raspberry-nectarine jam. The book has a recipe for canning a hazelnut blueberry mango sauce that sounds fabulous. I’d also love to try a strawberry fig jam, if anyone knows someplace in Northern or Central NJ or the Phily area that still has pick your own strawberries for a decent price. When NJ tomatoes are really going, I am hoping to try at least two salsas and two tomato sauces. My sister makes a wonderful cranberry sauce – we are hoping to find something similar that I will be able to can.
My number one jam tip: Be prepared. Have more jars, more sugar, more lemons, more of everything prepared that you think you might need. I can’t tell you how many times I nearly cooked a batch of jam beyond recognition because I needed more time to get out more sugar, squeeze lemons, sterilize additional lids to make up for the ones I dropped on the floor. I would love to hear about the canning plans of anyone else out there!