>> Tuesday, August 20, 2013
In case you didn't already read -- we went blueberry picking this weekend! It was sort of a spur-of-the-moment decision because we were up early and looking for ways to take the cranky out of a toddler. The fresh air did the trick. We had so much fun, in fact, that we returned home with 14 cups of blueberries.
Far more than I needed to embark on my first canning adventure.
Since I'm no expert, I'm not offering a recipe today. I followed the "Classic Blueberry Jam" recipe + hot water method instructions in one of our favorite books: Put 'Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook. I can't recommend this book enough. I've seen a few similar titles I'd like to check out, too, so I'll be sure to round out reviewing other modern books on preservation sometime soon.
Anyway, taking the leaves an stems out and cleaning the fruit was tedious. Probably my least favorite part. I enlisted Stephen to finish the rest of the cups of blueberries beyond the eight I needed. I wish there was some sort of magic de-stemming machine. Wouldn't that be grand?
Here's where I made my first mistake. I immediately jumped in and made my jam recipe. It didn't take much more than heating the blueberries, some sugar, and lemon juice on the stove and bringing it to a gel state. The issue? It says several times in the book to get the water in the canning pot going first because it will take a while to bring to a boil.
I don't know how I missed these instructions because -- I must have read the canning stuff point by point probably 50 times. It ended up be OK, I just reheated the jam a few times until the canning pot was finally boiling. I never knew that you had to fill the entire pot with glass jars, but it became very apparent to me when I would move one and the rest would float + topple!
While I waited, I laid out all my tools in the exact order the author instructs. I've always been horribly intimidated by the process, so I didn't want any surprises. Since we're short on counter space, I used a TV tray (not pictured) to place down the pot lid, a couple towels, and a pot holder when I wasn't using them.
Here's what I used:
- Canning Pot w/ Rack
- Ball 8-ounce Jelly Jars
- Canning Utensil Set (came with jar funnel + lifter, lid lifter, bubble remover)
- Silicone Ladle
- The small bowl from this mixing bowl set
- Tea towels, lots of them
I don't have photos from the process because I was furiously trying to do everything the "right" way. In the end, I did lose one jar of jam because it tipped over when I was taking it out of the pot. But shortly after taking out these three others, I hear that glorious "POP!" sound of them sealing shut.
This is all a long way of saying if you've been meaning to learn how to can (and many of you have told me you want to), just do it! I was scared or intimidated for years and it really wasn't all that terrible!
What should I can next?!
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