I Heart Canning

Last week I went to Whole Foods for a one day sale on blueberries.  Organic blueberries were just $1.99 a pint!  Then since I had bought the limit, I figured I needed to find something to do with those blueberries so that they wouldn't go bad.  Another blogging mom also saw the sale and posted an amazing sounding jam, Blueberry Lime Jam and I just had to make it!  I'm not a big jam person, and there was no way that we would eat enough jam in a couple days time to make it worth while.  So the only other solution was to can the jam.  Then I thought, well if I'm going to make the kitchen a mess, I might as well go all out and spend the day canning.  So I talked to my mom, a seasoned canner, and figured out a few things to can.  Then I went to a local orchard to get a few more items of fresh produce and to the grocery store for the last remaining items.

I decided that going into this I had to be flexible.  If things didn't work out the way I wanted, I had to figure out something different.  I also knew that you have to be super organized and figure everything out ahead of time because timing is everything.  I went to Walmart earlier in the week and got the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving for under $6 as well as the utensil set for under $10.  I read up on canning ahead of time and plotted out a basic schedule along with all of my ingredients.  I sterilized everything in the dishwasher the night before and set out everything that I would need.

Once I got going there were a few things that I had to figure out as I went along.  I had to figure out what the best set up for me was so that I could be the most productive.  We have extremely limited counter space, so I had to take advantage of every square inch.  I hate to cut and chop things, I don't know why, but it drives me crazy!  I had read a tip online where someone said that they didn't like chunks in their jam, so they used a juicer to get the flavor without the chunks.  I thought, that seems like a way to make my life easier.  I put all of the fruits through the juicer before I cooked them, but I scooped all of the discarded pulp and added it back into the juice.  This way all I had to do was coarsely chop the big items, cut the tops off the strawberries, shove the fruit through the hole and press the button.  I even did this with the apples for the applesauce.

The next thing that I had to improvise on was the boiling water bath.  I used my lobster pot, which has a steaming rack, and I was able to fit five pint jars or six half pint jars.  The problem came once the water started boiling.  The lightweight lid was flopping all over, allowing the steam to escape.  So I looked around and found my heavy glass blender to stack on top of the lid.  That still wasn't enough, so I grabbed our Jillian Michaels 10lb kettle bell.  Yep, that's right, this is what my canning pot looked like each time I put something in a boiling water bath. 

The actual canning process ended up being surprisingly easy.  I think that I had to just try it out once to get over my fear and anxiety because now I realize that it's not so bad.  You basically make your item, spread, fruit, vegetable, sauce, whatever you want.  While the food is cooking, have your canning pot full of water heating on the stove.  Then I had our electric kettle boiling water at the same time.  As the food item was just finishing, I poured the boiling water from the kettle into the jars I was going to use and then over the lids in another cup.  Once the food finished I poured the hot water back into the kettle, ladled the food into the jars, measured to make sure there was the right amount of space on top, wiped the rims down and put the lids on.  I used the special jar grip to put the hot jars into the hot water in the large pot.  Then I brought the pot of water to boiling, put the lid on and let it boil for the amount of time in the book, 10-20+ minutes depending on what it was.  Once I took the lid off and turned the stove off I waited five minutes and then pulled the jars out and placed them on a towel to cool.  While the fruits were in the boiling water bath I would start on my next item.  Not bad as it seems huh?  Very doable!
When it was all finished I had (in order of the above picture) Blueberry Lime Jam, Spiced Honey Peach spread (was supposed to be canned peach halves but couldn't get the skins off or peaches halved, oh well!), Strawberry Butter, Blueberry Applesauce, Applesauce, No Sugar Strawberry Blueberry Jam, and Cinnamon Apple Rings in Apple Juice.
The best part about the day was that I tried to clean as I went along.  If I spilled something, I wiped it then.  I rinsed off spoons and put them in the dishwasher.  While something was simmering or in the boiling water bath I washed what I could.  So at the end of the night, my kitchen was CLEAN!  Not a dirty dish or surface in sight!

So I was able to sit on the couch with Munchkie's Daddy and watch a movie while we enjoyed some ice cream with Blueberry Applesauce on mine and No Sugar Strawberry Blueberry Jam on his instead of spending all night in the kitchen cleaning.
This morning for breakfast I had three different spreads on a piece of No Knead Bread that I mixed up to rise overnight.  I can't deny that I fell into bed stating that I was never getting back out, only to jump back out seconds later and run downstairs to throw together a half batch of bread.  I was back upstairs in less than 7 minutes and then we were able to enjoy my hard day's work for breakfast.  I also scrambled some of the farm fresh eggs I got at the farmer's market.  Mmmmmmm DELICIOUS!

 Spiced Honey Peach Spread
1 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened 100% apple juice
3 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
4-5 pounds peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin
6 cups sugar

  • Bring to a boil the honey, apple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice.
  • Simmer while you prepare everything else.
  • Boil a pot of water.
  • Once boiling, drop the peaches in the water for 30-60 seconds.
  • Drain the hot water and fill with cold water.
  • Remove the pits from the peaches and then puree.
  • In a large pot add together the peaches, lemon juice and pectin and bring to a boil.
  • Strain the honey mixture to remove spices and add to peaches.
  • Add sugar and stir to dissolve.  
  • Bring to a rolling boil and boil for at least a minute.
  • Pour hot peaches into hot jars.
  • Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you were busy!! Good for you! There is so much love in those jars :)