First adventure in canning

Last week, I went to a demo/book-signing with Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars. Canning was something I’ve had on my list of things to do and just haven’t done yet. But after a taste of Marisa’s blueberry jam, I knew I had to make it at home if I wanted to eat more. It was deliciously addictive! I must admit – I’m a bit of a jam fiend when I meet a tasty jam. There were no other options for me.

So, this past weekend, I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up a large container of blueberries in my quest to experiment. However, I was thwarted. They were all sold out! I can’t blame Trader Joe’s. If I’m going to buy blueberries, I’m going to buy it there and not at my local supermarket. Supermarket blueberries all seem to be from the same farms in New Jersey, and they are very tasteless. I don’t know where TJs gets theirs but it tastes better.

Oh well.  I thought that was the end of my very short adventures with blueberry jam.

And then?

My mom went blueberry picking with her friends Sunday morning! Tasty blueberries, and with no effort on my part! (^_^)

My siblings took a couple of pints, but I got the rest of the bounty. My mom felt bad about my strike out at TJs. (Isn’t my mom the best?)

I used Marisa’s recipe which involves blueberries, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Her recipe also uses lemons, but I didn’t have any.  I don’t think the acid component is necessary for blueberry jam.  I found a recipe without, but I felt like the spices need something to help round out the flavor, so I put in 1T balsamic vinegar (note – I made a half batch, not the whole recipe amount).

A quick thought – I prefer Marisa’s method of mashing the berries.  She uses the bottom of her measuring cup.  At first, I was mashing with my OXO potato masher, but the blueberry skins jammed the openings.  Mash with a cup, people.  There’s no need to get fancy here.  (No points for you, Shiny Kitchen Gadget!)

When it came to judging doneness of my blueberry mixture, I skipped the plate test.  It turns out that I also suck at judging the texture/thickness.  So, I took the easy way out – I went for my Thermapen.  (Forgive me, Shiny Kitchen Gadget.  I love you.)

Once 220F was achieved, canning followed.  Overall, it’s an easy process albeit a bit messy.  However, if you’re ill-equipped, it takes a bit of time trying to figure out which pots to use and trying to find a decent funnel.  (Oops?)

Going forward, I’ll make sure to have equipment prepped ahead of time.  But a Sunday afternoon spent making blueberry jam was still worth it.  I am the proud owner of delicious blueberry jam… which I want to eat all in one sitting.  haha.

No worries though, I have enough will power to keep myself from gorging.  Plus, I have something to look forward to during breakfast or snack time.

There’s only one thing left for me to do now.  I need to pick up a copy of Marisa’s book!  In the meantime, at least we have her blog.

Reference links:

http://www.foodinjars.com/
http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/07/guest-post-a-first-time-canner-makes-blueberry-jam/

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7 thoughts on “First adventure in canning

    • Thanks! I definitely want to can some more… but I also don’t want to be that person with a pantry full of jam. Life is full of difficult decisions, isn’t it? (^_~)

  1. Love it :). We made blueberry jam a couple of weeks ago too from blueberries we picked at a local farm. I wound up hand mashing with our potato masher and it worked great.

    Did you water can them or just put it in the fridge/freezer in the end?

    • if my potato masher were wire instead of the square holes, it would have been ok. 🙂

      I water canned them! I was so proud of myself. The jam in the pictures, though, was from the last bit in the sauce pan that didn’t make it into the jars. So that went straight into the fridge… and in mah tummy! ♥

  2. Our potato masher is square holed, but it did the job just as good. We let it sit overnight in the fridge too, which did wonders for the color before we cooked it. (Mashed blueberries look rather nasty initially.) We made strawberry jam too before that (I blogged about that one) and it was our first foray into canning awesomeness! 🙂 I’d love to jam swap with you!

    • I didn’t let my blueberries sit overnight, but I did leave them alone for about hour before I started cooking… partly because I realized that I needed new rings and I went out to buy them. lol!

      I was surprised at how grey blueberries were all mashed up. It wasn’t really something I thought about before. 🙂

      • I actually got a little nauseous when I poured them into the measuring cup. Pink/green/grey with blue chunks not a good visual combination. The next day it looked more like what I thought it would, and while cooking it turned a beautiful blue/purple. The jam itself tastes like blueberry pie to me. 🙂

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