I’ll be honest- if these posts weren’t already written and ready, I probably would not be back to posting. But they are, so I figured why not. I don’t think it’s being disrespectful to my grandmother’s memory to keep blogging this soon after her passing, especially since it gives me something to look forward to & also because she loved my blog. And as devastated as I am, like I said, these posts were already written (I just heavily edited some). So on we go on this blogging journey. Hopefully at some point this summer, I’ll get back to the baking, as soon as the weather cools down just a bit (103° degrees is a bit hot for cupcakes, A/C or not).
Awhile back, in early July, I had some overripe peaches I bought and forgot about, as well as some blackberries & raspberries left over from previous baking exploits & I decided to just make a quick little one-jar jam with them, a preserved one, so that in a few months when these beautiful fruits aren’t in season or aren’t looking as nice in the produce department as they do now, at least we’d have something to hang on to. Summer seems to by flying by so fast, I thought it might be before I know it that we might need this. Something to remind us that summer was indeed here, despite the falling leaves or snow or whatever. But then I realized it probably wouldn’t even last that long! While I was at it, I made some sliced peaches. But we’ll talk about that later.
My labels rock, I know this.
Me: “Hi, I’m Marilla, and I’m addicted to canning.”
Canner’s Anonymous Group: “Hi Marilla…”
In all seriousness, the fruit would’ve just gone bad anyway. And then it would’ve been thrown away. So not only am I extending the tastes of summer (sort of), I’m being responsible about not letting fruit just sit & rot when it’s been forgotten about. And that tends to happen here; berries get pushed to the back of the fridge, etc, etc. The squirrels love me, though, because most of it gets tossed into the yard & they happily munch on it. Hence, a half-eaten apple perched on a branch in my Dogwood tree last week. However, it really is not my main job to make sure the squirrels here have a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits. So I will jar as much as possible before it has a chance to go bad! And you should too. It’s fun, and easy, and once you start you won’t be able to stop. So go get started.
Okay so… I lied. It really isn’t ONE jar jam. It’s more like, a pint jar and a half jam. So if you’ve got pint and half-pint jars, you’re in luck. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not quite at the stage where I feel comfortable mucking around with canning recipes, especially jam, because when you double/triple them I’ve heard trouble starts. So that’s on you. I’m usually a rebel (“I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel…”) but being that I’m a total n00b to the world of canning, I’ll wait until I’m a bit more experienced before messing with shit. But you could always put the extra half-pint in an empty jar, not process it and refrigerate it once it cools, using it immediately. Basically I had two extra pint jars sanitized from my pickles, so I wanted to use them. The half-pint ones were just bonuses (that were promptly given away to random lucky recipients). I made them the same night as my pickles, proving they are indeed super fast & easy because I’d already made 5 jars of pickles, plus a full dinner (pasta with pesto sauce… yum) by the time I made these. And I’m pretty freakin’ bionic, but even I have my limits. So trust me- it’s easy.
I’m assuming in writing this that you already know the very basics of canning. If not, please check out The National Center for Food Preservation‘s website & get some background first. You most definitely can can anything, but you have to know how to do it & have the right equipment for it. Besides, I ain’t no master-canner! But this recipe doesn’t require a whole lot of experience, anyone with the proper equipment can do it.
- 1 ⅓ cups fruit, combination of blackberries, peaches & raspberries (crush the berries, finely chop the peaches)
- 0.4 ounces of Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin (or whatever pectin you prefer, just remember some require different processing!!)
- 1 ⅔ cups granulated sugar (or 1 cup, for reduced-sugar jam)
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- Sanitize jars and lids, and keep them hot, either in a pot of simmering water or dishwasher. Combine fruit with lemon juice in 8-quart saucepan. Gradually add pectin, and bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & skim foam if necessary.
- Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving ¼” headspace. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars, apply bands, and adjust to “fingertip tight.”
- Place filled jars in canning rack, and then in large pot ensuring that jars are covered by 1-2″ of water. Bring water to a gentle, steady boil.
- Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for your altitude. Turn off heat and let jars stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours, if center of lid is pressed it should not move up and down. If it does, you can refrigerate immediately and still enjoy it, but you can’t keep it for long as it isn’t properly sealed.
- Clean and store jars accordingly, preferably in a cool, dark place.
Okay so, I got my pectin free with my canning kit. Like I said, this is a little recipe of my own invention using the guidelines on the pectin package, and it was my first time canning a jam. If you use another type of pectin, please be sure to check the processing requirements first as they may be different. I did not “seed” the berries, because I felt like it didn’t matter. Plus, the seeds add an interesting texture, I think. And they look pretty in the jar- look at the picture above; it’s like little jam fireflies. Adorable. Of course, if you’re anti-seeds, feel free to strain ‘em out. It’s totally up to you. So is the amount of each fruit. Use any variation thereof, or eliminate one altogether. Although I happen to think that triad is pretty spiffy myself; you could try putting in strawberries or blueberries too.
Just to alleviate any stress, the peaches will rise to the top if they’re in chunks & not completely crushed, this is normal for peaches. Something about the pectin level of the peaches is lower than the “jammier” part, plus there’s air in the fruit, so they float. Blah, blah. It all tastes the same so why care!? When you open the jam to use it, give it a stir to incorporate the peaches & it’ll be fine. It’s a really pretty looking jam, and it’s pretty nice on the taste buds too. The half-pint jar of this jam was given to/eaten by my grandmother, and in her words “I didn’t know whether to eat it or stare at it.”
Needless to say, she definitely ate it. On a piece of bread with a cup of hot tea. And she loved it. And I am so glad she did, because it gives me happiness & comfort to know I made her happy. Gawd, I miss her. Terribly.
See? Look at the bottom. Sneaky goddamn floating peaches!
The other jar went to my aunt Marilyn, who eats it everyday, sometimes twice a day on bagels, bread, toast, etc. She totally raved about it, and made my father jealous because he didn’t end up with any. Oops.
And like I said, I also made some sliced canned peaches in a light syrup. I got the recipe from here, and the best thing for me to tell you is to go there and find out yourself, instead of me re-writing it here. They say it better, plus, only you know how much you want to make or can make. I had three peaches left after the above jam (I used one) and it made another pint and a half of sliced peaches. I also did not use the Fruit-Fresh, just lemon juice, and my peaches were beautiful with no signs of browning. I packed the jars super tight, so my syrup had a hard time getting into some of the air pockets, but as the peaches sit they’ll seep out moisture & the syrup will thicken anyway, so those air pockets probably won’t even be there when I open the jar, whenever that is. And again, keep in mind what I said above about the floating, also; the bubbles are totally cool. As long as the seal is good, you’re golden. I’m no expert, but I looked into it & while there are some alarmists, there seems to be no reason at all why a little bit of air is a problem. Besides, as the jar seals some will escape, you’ll see the bubbles moving up, and everything will settle as well. When people try & avoid them, it’s mainly just an aesthetic thing. And nobody’s perfect, so really, what’s a few air bubbles among friends? But really, these photos above were taken not long after they were processed, so the bubbles are really apparent. A few days later, you couldn’t see many air bubbles, as I assume they all rose to the top. See below.
About 4-5 days later, everything settled. Peaches still be floatin’ though!
Yeah, the air pockets in the peaches were still there, obviously. But much less noticeable. A little tip from pickyourown.org that I will share here is peeling peaches. So easy, I wish I’d thought of it! Simply cut a shallow X in the bottom of the peaches, then dip them in a pot of boiling water for 25-45 seconds each, and remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. When you take them out, the skin should just literally slide right off with no trouble. If not, then your peaches aren’t ripe enough. Let them sit a few days & try it again, or peel them with a vegetable peeler if you really want to can them immediately. Like I said, my peaches were on the overripe side, so I had no problem with the skin coming off. And also, you don’t need to peel them, you can can them with the fuzz on too. It’s just some people prefer not to taste the ‘preserved’ fuzz. Preserved fuzz actually sounds gross.
And don’t forget- August 13 is National Can-It-Forward Day! And P.S. if you’re a family member or close friend of mine… guess what you’re getting for Christmas. Especially now that since it’s so hot, all I can do is can/jar to take my mind off things & keep busy. Plus, my 30th birthday is in three days and I’m basically miserable with a kitchen full of canned items, which my friend Chrisie says I should use as the title for a book on coping with grief & canning/preserving my way through it. And I just might write that book.
But life goes on. C’est la Vie, right?