With all the cooking I’ve done over the years, I suppose it was inevitable that, despite my years of protests, one day I would end up canning, too.
My mom has always been the canner. Growing up, my signal that summer was waning and school was about to make a reappearance were the bushels of tomatoes piled up in our kitchen. We always had canning jars lined up along the counter top, too, ready for the tomatoes, sauces and various veggies that would end up in our basement storage room. And since I’ve always reaped the benefits without having to put in the work, I never added the actual process to my list of cooking must-do’s. And then Ball came calling with their Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker.
I was intrigued at the thought of an appliance that would make it even easier to make jam, something that I have always left to my mom, the pro! I’m so glad I gave it a try myself though, since it took all the guesswork out of it for me. Not that it went entirely perfect for this jam-making newbie – I should have researched that adding pectin and allowing it to dissolve is crucial to the jam thickening and setting up properly – but the good news is that even a strawberry jam that doesn’t thicken can be a delicious topping for ice cream! So there’s really no way to lose as you learn how things work in the jam world :) And the process of making the jam itself was so simple that I just whipped up a second batch, so now I have both strawberry topping and strawberry jam. Awesome.
I ended up making two jams: a plain ol’ fashioned strawberry (I asked my girls if they’d let me add some freshly ground black pepper to it, it was a no-go but it would be sooo good!) and a raspberry-chipotle. The raspberry-chipotle was my personal favorite, I can’t wait to enjoy it over grilled chicken or just as a yummy appetizer over cream cheese. I was trying to come up with more alternatives to what I could serve it with, and I’m happy to report that the Turkey & Smoked Gouda Flautas I made were sooo much better dipped in the jam! That recipe posted later this week!
For the strawberry jam, we went with some flaky biscuits, which is always a winner. The girls each had two friends over for the day (yes, I’m insane!) and that was their afternoon treat. Those girls can pile on the jam, let me tell you!!
What’s even cooler about all this canning I’ve been doing is that THIS SATURDAY is National Can-It-Forward Day! The National Can-It-Forward Day webcast will begin at 10am EST on August 17th live from Union Square Greenmarket in NYC. There will be a live webcast of canning demos and you can ask questions that will be answered in real-time! There will also be additional giveaways from the Ball brand offered for those who are tuned in. Viewers can also participate via Twitter using the hashtag #canitforward, which I’ll be doing so be sure to look for my tweets! Scroll to the bottom of this post to view the live webcast on the big day!!
And guess what? I’m also hosting a giveaway of Ball products!! To enter, simply leave a comment telling me if you’ve ever canned and either what your favorite thing to can is OR what you think you’d like to make on your first try! Here’s what one lucky winner will win (US residents only, please):
· The Ball Canning Discovery Kit
· The Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving
· One coupon for a free case of Ball brand canning jars
But wait, there’s more!! :) Ball is also hosting a Pinterest contest, where you can enter to win a grand prize by:
- Following Ball Canning on Pinterest
- Pinning an image with the hashtag #canitforward onto one of your own Pinterest boards (this can be a repin of one of my pins, too, my most recent pins can be found here)
- Emailing your pin to canitforwarddaycontest@gmail.
com to complete the entry process
One grand prize winner will receive a $500 gift card to Cooking.com and four runners up will receive a Ball branded package including a Ball Blue Book, Canning Discovery Kit and Case of Heritage Collection Jars. All winners will be selected at random.
Here’s my recipe for strawberry jam using the Ball Jam & Jelly Maker (which I totally love!!). It uses less sugar than most (but still sweet enough for me and my girls, so there’s no loss there as far as I can see) and is slightly looser due to the fact that I puree my strawberries for a smoother consistency. And now that I’ve made two batches of jam, I can honestly say that I am hooked! I’m already dreaming up some fun new concoctions for you…stay tuned!
- 2 pounds strawberries, cleaned, hulled and pureed (I crush them a bit first then use a hand blender)
- 2 T Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin
- 1/4 t butter
- 2 cups sugar
- Sprinkle pectin evenly over bottom of the Pot fitted with the Stirrer. Add crushed strawberries evenly over pectin. Add butter to help reduce foaming.
- Press JAM button – the cook time will automatically default to 21 minutes. Press enter.
- Wait 4 minutes to hear 4 short beeps indicating it’s time to add the sugar. Add sugar gradually while stirrer continues running. Place the lid back on the pot.
- After 21 minutes, the Jam & Jelly Maker will beep and your jam will be done!
- Can your strawberry jam as you normally would.