Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Canning -- Jams in Cans (or Jarring -- Jams in Jars...)

There is something deeply satisfying about jewel-colored jars, sealed shut, lined up on the counter -- a simple finished process, something sweet kept, small gifts to give.  I've come to love the process -- though it dirties so many pots and dish towels and makes the kitchen sticky -- of fruit to bright filled jars, the quick suck of lids sealing.  I almost always jam at night, stirring out tangled thoughts in a quiet kitchen.  Though Ben tries to give me a hard time each time I flood the counters with jars, lids, fruit, cutting boards (pots and pans I often leave for him and the stickiness), he ends up in the kitchen with me late at night, leaning against the counter eating the jam that didn't come out even, warm from the pot.

On Monday on the way home from the beach (so happy to visit the beach!) I bought 10 lbs of peaches and drippy boxes of blackberries picked that morning. A little ambitious, but needless to say, it launched me into summer jam.  Here are the recipes I tried so far:

Blackberry Peach Jam

-3 c. Peeled crushed fresh peaches (I blanch to slip out of skins, and you can figure about a lb. per c.)
-1 1/2 c. blackberries (uncrushed)
-1 pkt (1.75 ounce) of fruit pectin
-6 c. Sugar

  1. In an 8 quart. saucepan mix together all but sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir constantly. Quickly add in premeasured sugar and bring back up to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cook a few minutes until mixture reaches 210 on a candy thermometer 
  2. Remove from heat and skim off foam, (may add 1 T of butter as it boils to reduce foaming)
  3. Fill warm sterilized jars, leave 1/4" head space.
  4. Wipe threads and place on lids and bands, (not too tightly). Process in boiling water bath for 5 min. Invert and leave for 24 hrs for a good seal.

This recipe made about +/- five pints
I also added some lemon -- my blackberries were quite tart, but peaches very sweet -- could decrease sugar a bit and add lemon zest with juice.  My batch also became *quite* firm after setting -- not sure what to say about that.

small batch Blackberry Jam 
(this made such a small batch -- hardly over a pint -- would recommend doubling at least for the time it takes, if you have the berries)

-2 c crushed blackberries (I crushed mine with my hands -- sensory delight -- because i never have much luck with potato mashers)
-2 c sugar
-2 t lemon juice 

1. In a small pan cook blackberries, sugar, and lemon on high heat for 5 minutes (bring to rolling boil).  
2. Reduce to medium heat and cook 15 more minutes.  
3. Skim off foam and ladle into prepared jars.  Seal.  The jam will thicken as it cools.

Peach Jam 
recipe from

10 c peaches, peeled and chopped
6 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 packets (1 box) liquid pectin 

 I like to flavor mine with cinnamon and nutmeg, but you could also go with vanilla, a bit of bourbon, ginger, lavender, rosemary or thyme. (Bronwen note: I love pure peach jam so I used only the nutmeg and left our the cinnamon all together.  Also used powdered pectin instead of liquid because I had it on hand).

Add peaches and sugar to a large, non-reactive pot. Stir so that the peaches begin to release their juice and mingle with the sugar. Bring to a boil and add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juice and let jam continue to cook for about fifteen minutes. If the fruit hasn’t broken down much after that time is up, use a potato masher or immersion blender (taking care not to burn yourself with hot jam) to break down the chunks. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes.

Fill jars and process in the hot water bath 10 minutes. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. 
Makes 6-7 pints (yield varies depending on width of pot, cooking length and juiciness of fruit).

Earlier this summer my parents received a box of Vidalia onions.  I'd torn out this recipe weeks before, loving the idea of such a southern preserve for my California girls (though I couldn't imagine what to eat it on) and so I tried it.  Turns out to be delicious -- not very sweet, a good tang, great on a tuna sandwich with avocado.

Vidalia Onion & Peach Relish
(recipe from Southern Living, May 2012)

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • bay leaves, crushed
  • 3 pounds Vidalia onions, finely chopped
  • 3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and chopped 
  • garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1. Bring canner half-full with water to a boil; simmer. Meanwhile, place 10 (8-oz.) jars in a large stockpot with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Place bands and lids in a large saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, and simmer. Remove hot jars 1 at a time using jar lifter

  • 2. Bring water, sugar, vinegar, gin, salt, mustard seeds, celery salt, dried crushed red pepper, and crushed bay leaves to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add Vidalia onions, peaches, and garlic; boil, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

  • 3. Pour hot mixture into hot jars, filling to 1/2 inch from top. Remove air bubbles, and wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands (snug but not too tight). Place jars in canning rack, and place in simmering water in canner. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Bring water to a rolling boil; boil 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner, and let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Test seals of jars by pressing center of each lid. If lids do not pop, jars are properly sealed. Store in a cool, dark place at room temperature up to 1 year.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I'm intrigued by the relish! My grandmother used to make a lot of orange marmalade.