Our First Canning Experience!
It was a first time to can anything for both Mutti and I. Before starting, I looked at the Ball book, at a tutorial on the Pioneer Woman’s blog, and a couple of other sites. I saw a recipe on Lisa’s Blog, and then realized it was the same recipe that comes with the non-sugar pectin package, only doubled. We’ve never tried it, but hopefully it’ll turn out as good as she says because we have 12 pints of it!
I was in a Jam…
Being newbies, the first run through was kind of rough. For example, as I started to heat the preserves I realized that of the three pectin packages we had on hand, we only had one non-sugar pectin package and I needed two. So, I had to run to the store in the middle of heating the jars and the jam. That was a little stressful, but Mutti stayed to watch over things. The rest of the process didn’t go too badly, because we were game to pick up more canning supplies at the store while they were on sale before starting our second batch.
A few pics of the process
Here are a few basic pictures of what we did, hopefully not boring you with too many details.
After cleaning the jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water, we heated the jars to a boil to sterilize them. Although it wasn’t for 10 minutes before the canning process, I was told by our local extension line that given the overall length of time that we boiled the jars that it would be ok. In the picture, the water is not yet boiling obviously.
After we washed the strawberries (water and vinegar mixture to try to wash away any pesticide residues, etc.) and removed the green tops and any bruises, I mashed them in a cake pan. Then I measured our double recipe from that pan into our heating pan. Once the berries were starting to heat, I added 2 cups of grape juice followed by the pectin (equivalent of two pkgs). We boiled the jam mixture for 5 minutes.
Mutti also helped skim off the foam (and a little extra sauce that came with it), and put it into bowls. That stuff kind of looked like 3-2-1 desserts, for those old enough to remember those. We had an idea for how to use this, which I’ll get to.
Pictures stop here because my hands were too busy. We put the lids into a separate shallow pan to heat. The separate lid bath was Mutti’s tip from her memories of her mom canning. However, we learned afterwards that allowing the lid water to boil is a bad idea as it can make a seal fail. So, as we let that happen to ours for a short time, we’ll have to watch our jars for any problems.
It really helps to have two sets of hands for this process. I lifted the jars onto a clean towel. Mutti held the funnel. I filled the jars. She wiped the rims and I got a lid with that wonderful magnetic wand thing and she screwed on the ring. After we processed the jars 10 minutes back in the boiling bath, I removed them. Unfortunately, we didn’t know we should have let them sit in the bath another five minutes before removing. Our local extension office assured me the jam should be safe, but that in the future we should really let it stay in the water five minutes more, as this contributes to the quality of the set.
Remember that bowl of strawberry foam? Well, after all that hard work it was time to relax with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. For our topping we had the skimmed foam with fresh raspberries from the garden sprinkled on top. Yum.
[Thank you U of MN/Iowa State U Answerline and an added thank you to Lisa of Lisa’s Blog for help in answering canning questions!]