Preserves **repost from eatingelpaso**

I’ve always wanted to learn canning. Preserves, jellies and jams seem to be one of the easier, quicker ways to do it. When I saw that we could get a few pounds of blackberries for a decent price from Bountiful Baskets, I decided to go for it.

I googled a little bit first to see what I might need. It was pretty simple-jars, pectin, sugar, and fruit. Easy! Well, kind of. It turns out you need a lot of boiling water and big pots to process the jars so they’re preserved. That means you have to boil the stuff in jars and then the heat seals the jars, and the stuff in the jars is pasteurized. They seal and bam, you have homemade, good-tasting stuff that will last a long time unrefrigerated! This is if everything works out right. My first experience turned out great; my second one not so much.

First you have to wash the jars and lids and then sterilize them. This takes a lot of boiling water and a lot of room in your pot. You have to keep the jars in the hot water so it stays sterile and so when you put your hot stuff inside it, the jars don’t burst from the temperature change.

Then you have to cook the stuff you want to “can”.  I had to boil 4 pints of berries and a little water, and add pectin and a lot of sugar. Then I had to ladle the mixture quickly into the jars, put the lids on them, and lower the jars into boiling water to seal them.

It was frustrating! First the water boiled faster than I expected, so I ended up rushing to prep the fruit. Then I realized I didn’t have a pot to boil the berries and sugar in, so I had to use my wok. Then I didn’t read the directions before I started, and I dumped the sugar in before I added the pectin. I ended up rushing to ladle the hot jam into the jars and then used the handy little jar lifter thingie to lower them into the boiling water to process.

 

Halfway through, Ken came in and offered to help so I had him move some of the jars around so I could get more into the pots. He asked if he was holding the jar lifter thing right and he was. It turned out that *I* wasn’t, when I had been using it. Tadaa. Then I asked if I could borrow his phone to time the jars, because I had 2 sets using 2 separate times. He set his phone for 20 minutes because I had already set mine for the first batch. Except…I forgot to press start on mine, so batch 1 got almost 10 extra minutes.

It all turned out OK because the jam was WONDERFUL.

I didn’t get a huge number of jars, but enough for us and a few for gifting.

 

The test PBJ was *delicious*.

 

It made me determined to make even more. I would be a canning fiend, and we would have delicious homemade preserves all winter! So I went to Costco and bought some black seedless grapes. I knew the recipe called for Concords, which are seeded but more flavorful, but they didn’t have those anywhere.  It turned out the “seedless” black grapes weren’t seedless, so I ended up crushing each grape by hand and removing the tiny, tiny grape seeds. I figured it would be worth it for delicious homemade grape jam! I also added some blueberries because the color of the grapes wasn’t that great. I tried crushing the grapes like it called for but they were hard to crush, so I put them in the food chopper instead.  Then I measured the amount of fruit I was supposed to have and compared it to the recipe, and got rid of the excess. Then I followed the directions-to the letter, this time.

 

Giant failure. The stuff didn’t gel at ALL. I now have 15 jars of runny, purple, overly-sweet (yet tasteless) fluid. Ken said not to worry because we could just use it on pancakes! Then he tasted it. He politely suggested we just dump it out so we can use the jars to can something…good.

 

Oh well. Pro’s Ranch will have tomatoes on sale soon, 3 pounds for $1. Salsa, spaghetti sauce, and balsamic tomato basil jam, anyone?

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Nice Monday