Summer Reading and A New Hobby

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I don't know about you but this summer seemed to go quicker than they usually do. Maybe it was the flurry of major life events, both anticipated and not, that speed things up, but here we are, on the cusp of autumn, and my bookshelf-favorite deserves an honorable mention. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round was just one of the fabulous wedding gifts we received. It was perfect because one of our goals this year was to bottle something together.  

Growing up my mother canned everything from homemade grape juice, to salsa, to whole peaches and more. The cement storage room in our basement contained row after row of colorful jars; preserved food that would last us through winter. For years I wanted to learn this ninja-pioneer-like skill and kept asking my mother to teach me, but for some reason the timing was always off and I just couldn't muster the courage to teach myself. To be honest, the entire process scared me. Buying a pot larger than a cow's head and boiling glass? No thanks.  

Enter amazing friends that had been canning for years. I determined that this was something I could learn and GH and I started off with a strawberry balsamic black pepper jam. (I may have called Ms. J about a dozen times during the process, but she offered great moral support during our inaugural jam session.) We decided to use a low-sugar option for our first batch (you know, trying to be healthy and all), which meant not only did I have to follow the jam recipe, I also had to master the complicated Pamona's Universal Pectin directions. The first batch was a disaster. We dumped the entire batch and immediately started over. Eventually our efforts paid off and we had a tangy sweet spread.  I won't lie, canning is a bit of an investment. Not only do you have to acquire the produce (buy market seconds whenever you can), but you have to take the time to process in a timely fashion. Fortunately, you can always freeze peak season fruit and use it later. This year I focused my efforts on jam. Blackberry sage jam, blueberry basil, peach plum ginger, and a peach cinnamon lemon that basically tasted like pie in a jar. Yum! I used Ball Mason jars and pretty Weck canning jars in the various batches and found that Mason jars sealed better, while the Weck 1/4 L also did a nice job. 

The best part of this process? Having lovely little jars to give away or stocking your shelves to be prepared for the next zombie apocalypse. Maybe next year I'll venture into the tricky art of pickle making. 

ISBN: 0762441437


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