I didn’t grow up canning. My mom makes delicious strawberry freezer jam, but I’ve never processed anything with a canner. As a girl, I remember helping my mom clean out my grandmother’s basement and finding jar after jar of processed goods. My grandmother has been an inspiration to me for most of my adult life, and there is a part of me that wants to explore many of the paths she traveled. For me, this includes canning, along with quilting, my wildflower garden and trying valiantly to develop that strong spirit that walks through difficult days with grace.
I rarely buy preserves or jam in the store, because they frequently use artificial preservatives, or substantial amounts of sugar. When I learned about Pomona’s Universal Pectin, I discovered I could make my own preserves using any number of sweeteners, like sugar, sucanat, honey, and Splenda. I now have a dozen lovely half pint jars sitting on my counter, waiting to be spread on toast or given as a gift. Here’s a mini photoblog to walk you through my Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.
Here’s my pectin – which I ordered online. A well stocked health food store should carry it, as well.
Here’s my sparkly new canner and a box of canning tools. Mine is Granite Ware, a Christmas gift from my mom. Thanks mom!
I had the opportunity to pick fresh blueberries from a local farm. I brought home around 10 and a half pounds, for $2 a pound. Quite a steal! I used 14 cups of berries to make a dozen half pint jars of jam.
My 1940s ranch home doesn’t boast a dishwasher, so I disinfected my jars and lids the old fashioned way. I pulled out my largest stockpot covered my jars, lids and rings in hot water, and brought it to a boil. I boiled my jars for ten minutes, and then left the jars in the water until I was ready to use them.
Pomona’s pectin combines mashed berries, lemon juice and calcium water. The calcium packet is included with the pectin, and at home I mixed it with water. I stored my extra in the fridge. This mixture is brought to a boil.
I chose to use honey to sweeten my jam, although I could have used sucanat. I combined my pectin with my honey, and added the mixture to my berries after they’d come to a boil. Once my jam was all cooked up, it went quickly into the jars, then into my canner. I was working pretty quickly at this point, so I don’t have any pictures.
The Pomona’s recipe requires ten minutes in the canner, once the water starts boiling. I pulled the jars out of the canner and placed them on a towel on my counter. As they cooled, I could hear the lids popping as they sealed. So satisfying!
I won’t share Pomona’s specific recipe, as I’m sure they hold copyright over that information. But I will assure you that the recipe is simple enough for a first time canner, and I’m very happy with their product.
Once I finished canning my jam, I still had about six pounds of berries left. So I froze three cookie sheets worth of berries, to enjoy in baked goods or on top of yogurt throughout the winter, when berries are expensive.
Thanks for joining me in the kitchen! I hope you’re inspired to preserve something tasty during the summer’s bounty. I’m excited for my tomatoes to come on, so I can put up some tomato sauce.