Preserving Summer

A few weeks ago I had the urge to can … not sure where it came from but I felt compelled to make jam or preserves.  As a child, my Mom used to can and preserve all kinds of things and my memories of it are of hot, chaotic miserable days, so I was a little hesitant to act upon my desire to preserve.  I posed the question to Facebook – to jam or not – and the response was clear.  Jam, it was.

And, boy, am I glad I did … look at the results.

Apricot, Strawberry, and Plum Preserves

I tried a bit this morning on toast (one piece with three stripes of jam) and I thought it tasted good.  I have a little bit of each that did not fit into jars so that will go into the office tomorrow so we’ll see what others think.

I made three batches, apricot, strawberry and plum … and it was easy!  It took about 3 1/2 hours and I did invest in a few pieces of equipment, specifically a jar lifter, funnel and magnetic lid grabber, plus jars, but I estimate including the cost of the equipment it was less than $20 and I made 18 jars.  I found three great recipes online.

Apricot – From a fun blog called Sassy Radish, this recipe took no time at all.  I doubled it, but you could easily make a quick batch to use immediately and skip the canning process.  Look how beautiful it was as it cooked down.  http://www.sassyradish.com/2011/07/apricot-jam/#more-2004

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Plum – This one has the most complex flavor and I think is my favorite.  I had a bit more plums than called for so estimated on the sugar and added an extra 1/2 stick of cinnamon.  http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quick-Plum-Preserves-106774

Strawberry -This recipe was super simple, but as I read the comments, I decreased the sugar significantly.  I tripled the number strawberries, but only doubled the sugar and I think it is plenty sweet.   http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/reviews/Old-Fashioned-Strawberry-Preserves-1906

At the recommendation of a friend, I bought Balls Blue Book which had great instructions on how to prep the jars and how to process it.  So, this will count toward the cook book challenge.

I think it is safe to say, I have the canning bug now.  While my memories of canning with my Mom were a bit chaotic, the memories of opening a jar of tomatoes or jam are great.  I can’t wait to use this in the winter, and since I am not much of a preserve person, imagine these will be gifts for many people.

Next, I think I want to try fig jam and mango chutney, but who knows it will depend on what looks good at the market. 

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About cookbooksandceilithe

For the past two years, I've been working more than full-time while getting my MBA. Now, that graduation has come and gone, I want to indulge in two of passions - cooking and entertaining.
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5 Responses to Preserving Summer

  1. That all looks awesome, and smart of you to use tested recipes.

    I did a few jars of apple butter and fig jam last year, but then read a few articles that said you should never, never, never just use your own recipe, it should be one specifically designed for canning (I just threw stuff together) because the ph level needs to be at a certain point (figs are one of the least acidic fruits) so I am all paranoid about botulism now. Sigh.

    It’s easy to do, but does take a bit of time. I did follow the Sure-jel recipes and made some strawberry jam this year, and everyone is still alive. :-)

  2. I had the same concern about poisoning people which is why I bought the cookbook , based on what I read the ph is not impacted by sugar so I felt okay making that adjustment. But I was paranoid so even looked up the sea level to make sure I did the hot water bath long enough!

  3. kbosin says:

    Looks delish, Cynthia – and I’ve been making fruit jams a lot this season – blackberry and peach mostly. Read ten recipes at random, on the internet, and you’ll find gigantic differences in proportion of fruit to sugar. When it comes to sweet fruit, I don’t think you have to worry, as long as you get a good seal. We did a food preservation workshop as part of the local farmer’s market last week – watch http://www.chesapeakejournal.com for some pics and info about making jam, two kinds of pickles, homemade yogurt and ricotta cheese. O yea. YUM. Oh, and PS – now that you’re making jam, we don’t have to lug it through trains, planes and taxis all over Europe anymore? xo

  4. If you’ve caught the canning bug another good cookbook is Put’em Up! In addition to canning recipes, the book covers other methds of preserving food like freezing or making liquors or granitas. The book is organized by almost any type of fruit or vegetable that you can think of – all the basics and more. And the recipes take you from basic jam and pickles to the more exotic. Think curried califlower or carmelized onion confit or homemade raisins. (The recipe for Sticky Fig jam is made with balsamic vinegar, yum.) One of my favorite cookbooks.

  5. Yum. Home-made ricotta sounds great. And thanks for the lead on Put’em Up! sounds like a great book. The carmelized onion confit sounds amazing.

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