Sunday, July 19, 2009

Canning Adventure!

Hi! I had a super fun time cooking with my daughter last week. She was home from Dallas, so we had made plans to make some jams for Christmas presents. We made plum jam with some great organic red plums and hot pepper jelly with local jalepenos that are in season in Texas right now. If you want to try home canning, it is a wonderful, fun experience that lends itself especially well to working with a friend or relative in the kitchen. A few tips for beginners:
1. Your first project should be a type of jam. Jams can be made in water bath canners (don't need pressure canners), are simple recipes, and are made in small batches that are easy to work with.
2. Use a jam recipe that requires sugar and a type of pectin, liquid or powder. There are recipes for sugarless and natural pectin jams, but they require more cooking time and canning skill.
3. Buy the best, most beautiful, peak of perfection, local, organic fruit you can find. Most jam recipes consist of three ingredients: sugar, pectin, and fruit, so the fruit needs to be terrific for the jam to be terrific!
4. Use reliable, recently published recipes from the Ball Canning company or the local agricultural extension agency.
It might seem old fashioned and a lot of trouble when you can just buy something like jam, but there is a lot more to it than the product. I hadn't canned anything since I was a kid working in the kitchen with my mom. Now I was teaching my daughter the same things. Each jar of the season is a memory and a lesson. Plus it tastes good!

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