Monday, September 2, 2013

Canning 101: Jam and Perfect Peach Jam

Canning 101

What you Will Need:
  • Fruit (the freshest, ripest, most amazing fruit makes the most amazing jam and conversely: yuck in, yuck out)
  • Sugar
  • Pomona Universal Pectin  (the one in the blue box).  This pectin has two parts: calcium water which activates the pectin and the pectin itself.  Mix the calcium water in a small jar according to the instructions and set aside.  You'll add the calcium water to the fruit and then mix your pectin in with your sugar.  Please note, this pectin reacts differently than Sure-gel.  It may take a few hours for it to set fully, even a day, so don't panic if your jam isn't completely set out of the pot or even the canner.  As long as you've added enough, it will set up.  Also unlike Sure-gel, I've never had a failure with this pectin.  And it allows you to use MUCH less sugar.

  • Water Bath Canner
  • Large mouthed funnel
  • Tongs or magnetic wand
  • Jar Grabber
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Jars (pints or half pints for jam)
  • Lids and Rims (lids never used, rims can be recycled)

Step 1: Preparing the Water Bath.
Remove the rack and fill the water bath halfway and put it on the stove to simmer.  Just before you start filling your jars, turn it up to high.  

Step 2:  Preparing the Jars and Lids.
Wash jars with hot soapy water or run through the dishwasher.  Inspect for chips or cracks, especially on the rim.  Put a pan with 2 – 3 inches of water on the stove to boil and put jars face down.  Add the lids with the rubber side down (VERY IMPORTANT!).   Once they’ve gotten really steamy, you can turn the water down to simmer until you are ready.  Set the rims aside. 

Step 3:  Preparing the fruit.
If your fruit is not sandy or covered in dirt, avoid washing.  Washing adds water which adds liquid and can make your jam watery and prevent your jam from setting up.  Pick through your berries and remove any stems and leaves. If you are working with strawberries or blueberries, you may want to puree them in the food processor.  Otherwise, you can mash them with a potato masher for a chunkier jam.   

Step 4: Making the Jam.
Measure your fruit into a pot.  Mix your calcium water following directions from the pectin package.  Add the right amount of calcium water and begin cooking on medium heat.  While the fruit is cooking, mix together sugar and pectin, again following the directions from the pectin.  When fruit has boiled, add sugar mixture and stir constantly for about 2 minutes to fully incorporate.  Bring back to a boil, then remove from heat. 


Step 5:  Filling the jars.
Make sure your jars are still really hot.  If not, turn the pan back up to high for a minute or two.  Once they are hot, set them up on your counter.  Quickly sterilize your ladle, your tongs and your funnel.  Put your ladle in the berries and the funnel on one of the jars.  One by one, fill the jars with the jam, leaving half an inch of headspace in each one.  If you have one that is not full at the end, you can put this one in the refrigerator for immediate use.  Dip the end of a paper napkin or paper towel in your hot water pan.  Thoroughly clean each rim with the damp papertowel to make sure there is no jam on the rim.  Jam on the rim will prevent sealing.  Once the rims are clean, using your tongs or wand, remove a lid, place on top of a jar, cover with the rim and tighten.  Repeat for all the jars.

Step 6: Processing the Jam.
Place the jars carefully in the rack and lower into the canner.  Once the canner is boiling,, process the jars for 10 minutes. 

Remove the jars from the canner and place on a dishcloth to cool.  You will start hearing little popping sounds.  That’s GOOD!!  That is the sound of the jars sealing.  It may take awhile for all the jars to seal. Once they are cool, check to make sure they are sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid.  If there is any give, it is not sealed and you must open it, replace with a new sterilized lid and reprocess. 

Voila!!! Jam!!!


Perfect Peach Jam

 8 cups of peaches (the fruit has been peeled, pit taken out and cut into big chunks)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
4 cups sugar
Pomona Universal Pectin (the one in the blue box)

Put peaches in the food processor and process until most of it is pureed with a few bigger chunks.  Add to pot with lemon juice, zest and calcium water (from the pectin package) and then follow directions as above.