Tuesday, 27 July 2010
We’re taking the “Two For Tuesdays” theme rather literally today and posting twice for the event… one post from each of us….
One of our fruit and vegetables stores is selling baskets of the most fabulous peaches. They’re exactly right for eating NOW. You know the kind. When you bite into it, you can’t stop the juice from running down your chin and arms.
I was raving about the peaches to my sister and she casually mentioned that she had made peach jam last year.
me: [awestruck] You know how to can??
she: [casually] I took a course.
me: I’ve always been terrified of canning. [whistfully] I wish I knew how….
she: [casually] Do you want to make jam this weekend?
me: [jumping up and down and squealing] Are you kidding?? Yes!! How many peaches should I get? do you want to make apricot jam too? we love apricot jam! there are apricots now too. we have some jars already. how many jars do we need? what do [more non-stop incomprehensible ectatic babbling]
So we jumped on our bikes and peddled furiously through muggy thick air the short distance to the “expensive” vegetable store that always has really good fruit in the summer. (We got spectacular sour red cherries from them a couple of weeks ago.) I got a basket of incredibly fragrant peaches (no idea what kind but they had reddish skins and were so ripe they were almost bursting) and some apricots. The tiniest apricots I’ve ever seen but they smelled the most like apricots of all the apricots at the various nearby produce sellers. Then I got some jam jars and a packet of liquid pectin because it was the only pectin that wasn’t laced with fructose and dextrose.
The next day (also steamy but not quite so bad – it rained that night), my sister arrived, armed with more jars, her canning utensils and her canning text book. My sister read the instructions out loud and made me mime some of the procedures before we dug into the basket of peaches to get started.
We pulled out a peach from the basket and then remembered we were supposed to be sterilizing the jars. (Hard not to eat the peach that we each had in our hands, but we were good….) We put the jars in the big stock pot and as we filled them, we realized that it really wasn’t deep enough to do the processing. (Oh Yeah!!! We already ran into this problem before, when T made peach chutney !!) An emergency phone call next door to talk to an answering machine machine and then racing to the other side to knock franctically on the door produced a humungously large pot. (And about 5 minutes later, the other side offered us their giant size stock pot.) Excellent!!!
Now that we had the correct sized processing pot, we continued, back on track.
You don’t want to know how much sugar we added. I don’t want to know how much sugar we added! We followed the recipe in the canning book!! The canning book has excellent instructions but the recipes appear to call for WAY too much sugar.
So there I was stirring, stirring, stirring and watching as the molten sugary peaches were getting closer and closer to the top of our small stock pot we were using to cook the jam. (Why on earth were we using that pot??!) But quick-thinking that we are, my sister took over the stirring, while I rummaged through the pot drawer to haul out the large stock pot that we WERE going to use for processing. My sister removed the pot of molten peaches (that were not quite bubbling over) from the burner and I put the larger pot on the burner. Then she handed me the other pot and made me pour the hot peach mess into the new pot. I’m pleased to report that I didn’t spill any. And we were back on track.
Everything else about the procedure was brilliant though. Even though it took us three and a half hours to produce 8 little jars of peach jam.
Because we then knew more about what we were doing, it only took us an hour and a half to produce 6 little jars of apricot jam. And after licking our fingers on what was left in the pot after filling the jars, we were determined to use LESS sugar for the apricot jam. And we did. In spite of the apricots be far tarter than the peaches. I was holding the sugarbag and tried to sneak by with scantly filled cup measures. But my eagle-eyed sister noticed and made me add a little more.
And still the apricot jam is very very sweet.
T and I officially tasted the peach jam the next morning (from the jar that was 7/8 full and so HAD to be eaten) on Tortano toast. Oh my!!! It’s insanely sweet!!! We tried cutting the sweetness by having it with goat’s cheese but the sweetness was too overpowering still. But the peach flavour still manages to come through. And it’s a beautiful colour. T thinks we should use it as a topping for cheese cake. It really does seem more like a dessert item.
Fascinating that the liquid pectin with zero sugar made for such sweet jam (although, of course, it has a lot to do with just how much sugar we added). I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that pectin would taste sweet!
Certo liquid pectin is produced in Mexico from lime peels. [...] Pectin is an effective fruit-based glue. It is sweet but otherwise without prominent flavor. -ehow.com: about certo liquid pectin
I gather that if you don’t care about whether the jam is loose, then you can use less sugar but if you care, it pretty much has to be 50% sugar, 50% fruit.
We rode to Canadian Tire on Sunday to get the canning implements. Alas, I didn’t see “light fruit pectin crystals” there. Even though I’m a fan of using things with zero sugar, I have a horror now of liquid pectin.
I looked at a Canadian Living Peach Jam recipe and see they call for “light fruit pectin crystals”. I wonder if there is less sweetener in that. I don’t remember seeing that choice when I was looking at all the pectins.
But yes. Definitely more research is required! Because, now that the procedure isn’t terrifying, I will be doing more jam making! I’m considering experimenting with zero pectin and adding apple or cranberry instead.
And I also really want to make some chutneys! This is so coool. Thank you thank you thank you to my sister for the demystification!
Even though the internet is absolutely full of excellent instructions on how to put up jam, here is what we did (I found it quite informative to type out the instructions – it helps me to remember just what we did):
Procedure for Making Jam
based on the instructions in “Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving”, edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
- large pot, deep enough to hold jars upright and be covered by at least 1 inch (2.5cm) of water.
- large stock pot
- tea towels galore
- wooden board
- jars and lids
- thermometer, optional
- Clean jars and enclosures: Examine the jars for nicks, cracks and uneven rim surfaces. Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse well and leave to drain. Drying the jars is unnecessary.
- Heat jars: Put a rack in the bottom of large processing pot. Place the jars on the rack, keeping them from touching. Add water to the jars until it reaches the top. For jars larger than 500ml, fill to 2/3 full. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer (180F) over medium heat. There is no need to boil the jars. The heat processing will do the sterilization. Keep the jars hot until ready to use.
- prepare enclosures: Set the screw bands aside. Carefully place the flat lids, seal side down in a small pot. Make sure that they are fanned out. Bring to a simmer (180F) over low heat. Do NOT boil! This could damage the seal. Keep hot until ready to use.
- make recipe: Cook whatever is to be preserved, following the recipe’s instructions. (If the cooking time is longer than 30 minutes, wait until it is being made before heating the jars and lids.) Lay a clean teatowel onto a large cutting board in preparation for filling the jars.
- fill jars: Use the tongs to lift a jar from the hot water. Empty the water into the pot and bring the jar onto the teatowel covered board. Use tongs to lift out a second jar in the same fashion. Put the funnel into the mouth of one of the jars. Ladle the food in, leaving the correct amount of headspace. Put the funnel into the mouth of the second jar. Use the guide to check the headspace on the filled jar.
- For pickles and relishes: 1/2 inch (2 cm)
- For jams and jellies: 1/4 inch (1 cm).
Slide a non-metal stick down between the food and the sides of the jar 2 or 3 times to remove any air bubbles. Adjust the head space if necessary. Clean the rim and threads with a clean damp cloth. Using the magnet, lift a disc lid from the hot water bath. Center it over the jar. Put the screw band on, tightening to fingertip tight; no more!! Overtightening can lead to seal failure. Use the tongs to put the jar back into the hot water. Retrieve an empty jar from the water, empty and proceed as above until all the jars are filled.
- heat process: Add enough water to the processing pot to cover the the jars by at least 1 inch (2.5cm). Cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a full rolling boil. Not until the water is boiling should the timer be set. Process for the amount of time indicated in the recipe. (The general rule of thumb is 10 minutes for jam and 5 minutes for jelly.)
- cool jars: Once the processing time has elapsed, turn the heat off. Remove lid and let sit for 5 minutes to allow the contents to stabilize. Remove each jar, lifting with the tongs WITHOUT TILTING. It’s okay if there is water on top of the lids. It will evaporate. Place the jars on a towel covered rack, keeping them upright. Leave to air dry, undisturbed for 24 hours; the seal is being formed. Put the jars in a draft free area. Drape a second tea towel overtop to help keep out drafts.
- check seals and label the jars: After 24 hours has passed, unscrew a lid. The disc lid should be concave (it’s likely that you’ll have heard the disc lids pop down the day before). Press the center of the lid with your finger. There should be no movement. If you’re unsure, place one hand under the jar and use the other to lift the jar by holding the disc. The seal should hold, no matter how heavy the jar’s contents. If the seal is broken, put the jar in the fridge and eat the contents in a timely fashion. Reattach the screwtop lid lightly. There is no need to tighten it; it’s just there for when the jar is opened; the jar is sealed already with the disc lid. Label each jar, recording contents and date.
Store jars in a cool dark place. Eat the contents within a year.
» Read through all steps of the procedure and recipe before plunging ahead.
» It’s a very good idea to check all utensils, ensure that your pot is deep enough and to wash jars and lids before beginning.
» Bonafied preserving jars can be used and reused as long as they are undamaged. The screwbands can also be reused. However, under no circumstances, should the disc lids be reused. The seal will not be secure.
- Preserving FAQs and Conversion sites:
» bernardin.ca: Bernardin Home Canning: Because You Can – FAQ
» Kitchen Parade (A Veggie Venture): Practical Home Canning Tips
» gourmetsleuth.com: Cooking Conversion Calculator – converts weights, volumes, metric, U.S. and U.K. for over 7000 food items.
» traditionaloven.com: Conversion Tool for Cooking Measures – conversion of measures of common ingredients for bread baking
- recipes from OUR kitchen:
» blog recipes
» recipes index
You don’t want to know what quantities we used. The sugar amounts were wrong wrong wrong. When I make jam that is more in keeping for breakfast than dessert, I’ll be sure to post the quantities we use. Because I will be making more jam! Probably this week.
But. One thing that I found fascinating. My sister was absolutely adamant that we use lemon concentrate that comes in those containers that look like plastic lemons rather than actual lemon juice. Apparently, the acid level varies drastically in actual lemons, making it difficult to know just how much lemon juice to add for safety. (I gather it’s the acid that is the main preservative.)
We didn’t use “real lemon” though. We think it’s vile. Instead, we used Sicilia lemon juice that actually tastes and smells like lemons.
Two for Tuesdays!
Eat Real Food
This event was created by Alex (A Moderate Life) with the idea that each “Two for Tuesday” post would contain two things (two recipes, two links, two variations on a theme… as long as the post is about real food. Alex, Heather (girlichef) and an increasing number of bloggers have joined forces to co-host the weekly event. Heather wrote:
» REAL food is homemade. REAL food is from scratch. REAL food has recognizable ingredients. REAL food is made from traditional ingredients. REAL food is food you make with your own hands. -Heather (girlichef), “Extra! Extra! Read all About It! Announcing… TWO for TUESDAYS!”
For links to the other “Two for Tuesdays” hosts and complete details on how to participate in the weekly event, please read the following:
- Heather (girlichef): Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival Volume 7
- Alex (A Moderate Life): Two For Tuesdays Blog Hop!
Lynn’s High Five
High 5! I did it!! Learning how to can has always been on my list of things to do. A few years ago, T made peach chutney without having all the correct equipment. But I was absolutely terrified of it and desperately needed someone to hold my hand on my first attempt. It turns out that it’s EASY and no hand holding is required!! (It is really fun to have a second person in the kitchen though, not to mention that with actual canning utensils, the process was considerably easier and far less intimidating.)
Ha!! And now I am an expert at canning. (Please reassure me that I don’t have to say that I’m joking.)
You select the challenge – you know best what intimidates you, what you’ve been putting off trying. When you put up your post, just slap up this logo to let the world know you’ve taken on something new and given it a good kicking! – Lynn (Cookie baker Lynn), I Did It (and you can, too)
Heh. I was just looking again at Alanna’s (A Veggie Venture) Practical Home Canning Tips and am reminded of one last thing: we didn’t have a metal insert to keeps the jars upright during processing. We discussed it at length, trying various cooling racks and vegetable steamers that didn’t work at all. So I stuck a tea towel down into the bottom of the pot. And that seemed to do the trick. Today, when I was at the hardware store to see if they sold these inserts, the fellow said that his mother always arranged lids on the bottom of the pot and rested the jars on the lids. That might work!! What do you think?
most recent Two for Tuesday (Real Food) post: grilled oyster mushrooms and thyme (real food)