Tag Archives: canning jars

Can It: Black & Blue Jam

Black & Blue Jam - Label Shot

Jam. It’s my jam. I love making it, which is convenient because I love eating it. There’s something magical about canning your own jam. When I open my pantry and see that Jelly Shelf with jars stacked high, I feel I’ve accomplished something. When I take a jar of homemade jam to my grandkids I feel like I’m sharing something homemade and wholesome. It’s a love that goes back to my own grandmother and memories of sitting on the steps of her root cellar, waiting anxiously to see what she might retrieve. It’s memories of my own mother baking homemade bread on glorious summer canning days, smearing warm slices of that bread with jelly foam and passing them out like Christmas presents. Magical.

When my Big Sister and I road-tripped up to Mom’s last month, I was fortunate to find gorgeous fresh blackberries and blueberries and saved them just for this – Black & Blue Jam. The combination of these two berries, blended into a rich, deep purple jam – well, it just sings to me and stirs some deep-seeded joy from my past as well as a fervent passion for the buttered toast in my future.

Black & Blue Jam - Berries in the Pot

Black & Blue Jam
7 cups fresh blueberries & blackberries, washed & stems removed
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 boxes (1.75 ounces each) powdered pectin
10 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon real unsalted butter
6 pint or 12 half-pint canning jars
new lids & rings for each jar

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the berries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the berries are soft and have released most of their juice, approximately 30-45 minutes. (Hint: I like to take an old-fashioned potato masher to mine after about 20 minutes to help extract the juice.) Add the pectin to the sugar and stir to combine, then gradually add the sugar to the berries, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Drop in the butter and continue to cook, again stirring often, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture has started to thicken. Using a big soup spoon, skim off any foam or bubbles from around the edge of the pan and save it in a bowl for jelly foam toast later. It’s a jam canner’s reward for a job well done.

Turn off the heat. If you dislike seeds (I do), place a strainer over another large pan and ladle the jam into a strainer, pressing the jam through using a flexible silicone spatula. Place your sterilized canning jars close to the pot. Using a canning funnel, ladle the jam into jars, leaving 1/4″ to 1/2″ of space at the top. Once filled, use a damp paper towel to thoroughly wipe the rim of each jar, removing any jam that may have spilled over.

In a heat-proof bowl, place new canning lids (I alternate them – one face up, one face down – to keep them from sticking together) and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit for 3-4 minutes, then carefully remove them one at a time, shaking off any excess water, placing one onto each jar. Screw a ring on firmly, but not so tight that it won’t turn at all, and set them aside until all are done.

I use this handy silicone canning basket when I can anything. It allows me to lower & raise jars without any slips or accidents, and is heat-proof so it stays in the pot the entire time without melting. Process your jam jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes (half-pints) or 20 minutes (pints). If you’re unfamiliar with water bath processing, check out this tutorial.

Jelly Collage

In my house, jam isn’t ‘done’ until it’s properly labeled. I may be slightly obsessed with creating cute labels for all my jams & jellies. It’s my creative process. Once your jars are properly labeled, you’re free to box them for storage, stack them on a pantry shelf, or pass them out to friends and family. Homemade jam makes excellent gifts. And speaking of gifts, there’s just one more to enjoy before you go – that bowl of jelly foam on warm buttered toast.

Black&Blue Jam Collage

Oh, Mom. I cannot thank you enough. {hugs}

For more on home canning, visit http://www.freshpreserving.com/getting-started.aspx

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Things I Love, Volume 2: Mason Jars

The Pioneer Woman’s story on Mason jars this week struck a chord with me (www.thepioneerwoman.com). I love mason jars. I grew up in a home where canning took place every summer as our favorite fruits and vegetables came into season. My mother loved to garden, and we always had the freshest summer foods on our table. She had her own miniature orchard with peach, apple and plum trees, as well. And for a while, even grew Concord grapes on a trellis that ran the length of our back fence. Mom is what you’d call a renaissance woman. She’s a very clever and resourceful girl. I have fond memories of her making her own wine with all that fruit, too. When we picked too much to consume, she would freeze or can it for later. We’d have “canning days” where we’d wash, peel, snap, shuck and slice everything we could get our hands on until it was all packed away for later. My mother made every kind of pickle known to man as well as pickled jalapenos, okra and beets. She packed tomatoes in jars whole, crushed and cooked into spaghetti sauce and salsa. We had peaches, applesauce, apple pie filling, and more. You name it; she canned it.

Of all the things she canned, my favorite was jelly day. On jelly day, Mom would bring out the big soup pot and load it with the fruit of the day. Once she had that going, she would start a loaf or two of homemade bread. She makes really good bread. She had the five of us washing and sterilizing jars while everything bubbled and baked. Just as the bread came out of the oven, the jelly would be cooked down and ready for jars. If you’ve ever made your own jelly, you know you have to skim all the foam off the surface of the fruit before you spoon it into the jars. Mom would use a big metal spoon and carefully scrape the foam into a bowl. Once she was done, my sisters and I would butter up some warm bread and slather on the jelly foam. Oh, hallelujah for sweet and fluffy jelly foam! As a child, I had two favorite kitchen pleasures – licking the beaters and making jelly foam sandwiches on warm fresh bread. Have mercy.

Thanks to Mom, I have a deeply rooted love of canning jars. I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen full of them – all shapes and sizes. It pains me deeply to put any jar in the recycling bin. It really does. I can’t let them go. They’re like family pets or small children. They should be treasured. I use them for storing leftovers, collecting change from my pockets, storing rice and grains in my pantry and everything in between. I’ve been known to drop votive candles into smaller jars and use them when the power goes out. Did you know you can also wrap wire around the top of small jelly jars, drop in a lighted votive candle and hang them from trees or light fixtures for parties? It’s simple and lovely.

Those old-school jars with the spring hinge lids are the ones I love the best. I recently found lime curd on the clearance rack at the Williams Sonoma outlet for $2.97 a jar. I bought two. It’s not that I’m a big fan of lime curd; I just had to have the jars it came in. I’ll eventually use the lime curd, but the jars are the real treasure here. I love to use them around the house. I keep a large one in my spice cabinet filled with kosher salt. I love that my old measuring spoon set fits perfectly in the hinge on the side (very convenient). I also keep one in the laundry room to hold colorful clothespins. I love keeping things in clear glass jars. It’s a functional and homey way to decorate any shelf. You never have to wonder where something is. I’m thinking that one of my new lime curd jars will be used as my button jar in the sewing room. I may fill the other one with dark chocolate peanut M&M’s. I will fill them, display them, and love them proudly.

Things I Love - Canning Jars with Spring Hinge Lids

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Great Gift Giving – Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar

Cookie Mix in a Jar

These cookie mix jars make a great holiday, house warming or wedding shower gifts. They’re easy to assemble and fun to give. I made a dozen of these for the girls at Hoegarden weekend. The resulting cookies are fabulous! I love to use Extra Dark Guittard chips, but you can use whatever you like. This cookie mix will keep for up to three months in the pantry.

Here’s what you’ll need to make each jar:
One wide-mouth quart size canning jar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons kosher salt (or table salt)
1½ cups Extra-Dark 70% Cacao Guittard chocolate chips
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
One jumbo paper cupcake liner, for a lid cover
One piece of ribbon, for decoration
One piece of cute scrapbook paper, for the instruction card
One hole punch for attaching instruction card to the ribbon

This recipe makes one 1-quart gift jar. It’s important to tap each layer into place so everything settles into clearly defined, lovely layers.

In a mixing bowl, blend flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Spoon flour mixture into the jar, and gently tap the jar on a kitchen towel to settle the contents. Gently spoon in the chocolate chips, and again tap the jar lightly to settle the contents. If you have a flat-ended utensil that will fit into the jar (or something like a tall narrow jar of green olives), you can use it to gently press ingredients down into the jar. Next, spoon in the brown sugar, and use that olive jar to pack it down. Spoon in the granulated sugar, and tap it down. By now, the jar should be full. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it’s clean. Cap with a clean lid and make sure it’s tightly sealed.

To decorate the jar, top with one jumbo cupcake liner. Using your hands, press the top edge of the liner to make sure it conforms to the shape of the jar lid. Print the directions below onto your scrapbook paper, either by hand or on your computer printer. Cut out the instructions, hole punch the top corner, then run the ribbon through and tie it into a pretty bow around the neck of the jar.

Here’s what to print on the directions card:

To Use Your Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Jar Mix:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter, 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until blended. Add cookie mix and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional); mix well, breaking up any clumps. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. (Makes about 2 dozen cookies; mix will keep for up to 3 months if stored in a cool, dry place.)

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