Friday, September 03, 2010

Canning, canning and more canning

I think I'm a little obssessed this time around. Last summer was my first foray into canning my own food. With a new vegetable garden in the back, it was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

Last summer, from my backyard vegetables, I made one batch of relish and two batches of salsa (and one batch of tomato sauce, but I froze that). And although at first, I was rather apprehensive by the whole process, I discovered that I really enjoyed it.

For me, the process -- when done during the evening after the kids go to bed -- is a relaxing way to spend my time. And, of course, makes for many tasty meals and condiments over the course of the year.

So, this year, I started early by making strawberry jam with fresh picked strawberries at the end of June. I even let the kids help and we made it an afternoon activity. One kid washed the strawberries, then I cut them up and then the other kid would take the cut pieces and put them in the pot. In the end, I made a really tasty jam -- even if it turned out more like strawberry syrup than jam. (Vanilla ice cream anyone?)

As the summer's worn on, I've made a batch of relish and a batch of salsa (from my garden vegetables), two batches of tomato sauce (one from my garden tomatoes one from a basket at the market) and yesterday, the kids and I made peach jam.

Again, we made a very tasty jam but again, it didn't quite set. I don't know what I'm doing wrong as both times I've followed the recipe exactly. And both times, I've ended up with runny jam (although this time it's not quite as syrupy). Any jam makers out there have any suggestions for me? As I'm thinking of making another batch of peach jam next week.

Also on the menu for this fall is another batch of salsa (maybe even two more batches), possibly another batch of relish (mainly because my cucumber plant is suddenly producing a ton of cukes again), a batch of pickles and another batch of tomato sauce.

One thing's for sure, I may soon need to find a new place to store all my jars. And watch out, some of you may end up with a jar or two from me under your Christmas tree this year.


Adam said...

I think you just need to cook your jam longer. We had the same problem when we first started making jam (and by "we" I mean CĂ©line). If it hasn't reached that proper dry-boil consistency it needs to stay on the stove a little longer.

Good luck =)

Jenn B said...

I also tried a trick I read about - when you've boiled it for the right amount of time take a spoon that has been sitting in ice water and put a bit of the jam on it. Once it's cooled to room temperature (it doesn't take long) tilt the spoon so it drips off. If it's at the consistency you want, it's good, if not, add a little more pectin and boil again for one minute. Seemed to work with my grape jelly.