What did you do this weekend? I spent this Sunday canning with my good friend Megan. We've made jam before, and it was YUMMY! Here's the "scoop". :P
A few weeks back, Megan mentioned going to a U-Pick farm and getting loads of berries. We'd talked about a mutual interest in learning how to can after I'd read an article in a newspaper she'd brought over one day. We both decided to go into the venture together.
The very next weekend, we went to the U-Pick farm and picked raspberries and Marionberries. If you don't know what a Marionberry is, then you ain't from the Pacific Northwest. LOL It's a hybrid berry that was first "invented" in Marion County here in Oregon. I believe it's half raspberry half blackberry, but I could be wrong. I'm not exactly sure what berries they mated together.
Anyhow, so we got home and spent the rest of the day making a mess in my kitchen. Word to the wise, BIGGER is better. If you're unsure which pot to boil your berries and sugar in, USE THE BIG ONE!!! :P We had a few spillage problems that first canning attempt because we were unaware just how much things expand and bubble up when you're boiling berries, sugar, & Pectin.
Anyhow, we dipped the cans into the water bath for 10 minutes and let them cool, and voila! They were sealed and ready to go on the shelf. SCORE!! My kids eat PB&J almost every day for lunch, so getting some home-made jam Mommy made herself was quite the treat. And oh my Gawd, was it goooooood.... **drool** The raspberry jam was sweet, while the Marionberry jam was a little more tart.
We still had a few cans left over, but on Friday, while I was at Costco, I passed 4 lbs of strawberries for $5.50. Well, strawberries are out of season here in Oregon, but not in California! Obviously, they'd been imported. So I whipped out my cell phone right there in Costco and made a "date" to can these beauties for some strawberry jam. After that, DH got on the bandwagon, putting in his request for apricot jam, as that's his fave.
So I bought the strawberries, and we still had some cans left over from last time, so we sterilized them and canned those this morning, before going out to a farm that sells produce 7 days a week. This is one of the only farms around that sells apricots. And let me tell you, buying from a farm is WAY cheaper than getting them at a grocery store, so for all of you who are wondering why I didn't visit the local Safeway's produce section, just be aware that we were of a mind to make our canning endeavor not only cheap, but excellent tasting. Because as we all know, produce bought straight from the farm just tastes better for some reason.
Anyhow, after putting up with the wacky farmer who had a penchant for riddles (don't ask), we had our apricots and came on back home. A few seconds in the food processor and we're ready to boil it! After 5 minutes of boiling, we're ready to can! I never knew I would have so much freakin' fun canning. Yes, it's messy, and it takes a lot of time, but it's so much fun, and seeing your shelf FULL of jams that are so scrumptious warms my heart. :P It's a bajillion times cheaper than going to the store and buying the jam there.
Now that I've had a "taste" of canning jam (nyuk nyuk), I want to get into pressure canning, so I can do chili, spaghetti sauce, cream sauces, etc. I'd love to have that kind of thing on hand for the days you don't want to cook or the times when you might be lean on a grocery budget. It's so much fun and so rewarding. Not to mention canning jam gives you excellent gifts for the holidays. :)
And truth be told, it's really not that hard. If you can boil water, you can do some canning. Yay! Now, along with the left-over raspberry and marionberry, I have strawberry and apricot jam. Awesome.
(Yes, my family really *does* eat that much jam. LOL)