Thursday, June 30, 2011

#2 - The Jam is the Jam!

1. Host mah jongg night.
2. Make jam.  (Done!)
3. Host brunch. (Done!)
4. Go for a picnic. (Done twice!)
5. Go grocery shopping on my bike.
6. Finish my year-end photo albums.
7. Take Fred to Lost Lake.
8. Rearrange the backyard.
9. Eat at the Space Needle.
10. Stay in bed all day.  (Done!)
11. <edited for privacy.>
12. Have a really girly slumber party.  (Done!)
13. Play a round of mini-golf. (Done!)
14. Get the craft room sorted and gorgeousified.
15. Go for a weekend in the San Juans. (Done!  Orcas at Memorial Day!)
16. Have an individual date with each NGS.
17. Go for a hike.
18. Plan and cook a week’s worth of dinners.
19. Go to Portland to see old friends.
20. Perfect a signature recipe (one slightly more nutritional than Bundt cake.)
21. Go to the drive-in movies.
22. Get a mani-pedi every month. (Done for Jan, Feb, March, April and May)
23. Go ice skating. (Done!  Colorado with the parentals!)
24. Find the perfect shade of lipstick.
25. Host a big tea party in the back yard.
26. Make a quilt top.
27. Take six dance classes of any kind. (THREE down.  Love the Little Red Hen.)
28. Ride on a Ferris wheel.  (Done!  Puyallup Spring Fair!)
29. Organize our finances and filing system.
        30. Plan an awesome 30th birthday party.

For this item on the list, I recruited the help of my good friend Stacy.  Stacy is a rad gardener, an amazing cook, and a bitchin' canner to boot!  She blogs over at and if you don't already follow her blog, go do it!  

She brought over her water bath canner and we set about to make jam.  I had gone to the fruit stand in Ballard and had picked up these gems:
 Locally grown, even!  
 So beautiful!  The peaches aren't local yet, but they were $2 a pound.  Speaking of fruit bargains, I went ahead and got some of these too:
 Because as far as I can tell, cherries are one of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest.  (FYI, Seattleites, these were $3 a pound!  Hie thyself to the Top Banana fruitstand and you can thank me later!)

So as far as I can tell, the hardest part about canning is preparing the fruit.  Peeling and chopping is time consuming, but do it with a friend, its fun!
 Stacy, cutting peaches!  The summer has finally come to Seattle and it totally waltzed right into my kitchen with all this fabulous fruit.  I prepped the strawberries:
 All done and beautiful!
 Into the pot goes: 
5 c. crushed strawberries
1 package No Sugar Needed pectin
1 c. sugar (I know, but I like sweet things) 
1 c. water.

The process goes something like stir the fruit continually until it boils, then boil it for one minute.  Meanwhile, heat the jars, boil the lids, remove the hot jars without touching them, fill the jars with hot jam (using a handy jam funnel!), put the lids on, screw the rings down finger tight, and then boil them in a water-bath canner for ten minutes, let them sit in the water for five, take them out of the water bath canner and set them on the counter and listen for the fun "pop!" of sealing lids.  But I don't want anyone to quote me on that and then get botulism, so if you're trying to can, go get the Ball Canning Cookbook, or "Canning and Preserving with Ashley English" and read up before you do it. 

We decided to do strawberry first.  Here goes!
Stir stir stir!

(The green blur is my sexy elbow bandage, I had a Ke$ha-induced running accident in the morning before jam-making.)  Anyway, the continual stirring is important.  Then...

Jam funnel is awesome!
Yay jam!  
When these puppies came out of the water bath and started sucking down like real jam, I was ecstatic.  Jam, just like that!  It really only took an hour, so we forged on towards peach jam too.
So pretty!

Again, stirstirstir!
And voila!  Just like that, peach jam!  One last glamour shot of the fruits of our labor?  (Pahaha!  Sorry, I had been resisting the pun this whole post, it finally got the better of me.)
So, this whole endeavor took from 3 to about 5:30.  A really satisfying two hours.  We netted 11 jars of jam, 6 strawberry and 5 peach.  Things I learned about making jam:

1.) Making jam is about 15 times easier and more fun with two people.  Do not attempt as a solo mission, especially since the urge to re-read the directions may overtake you at any moment and someone has to be stirring!
2.) If you have extra fruit cut, throw it in.  We had about 6 cups of sliced peaches and only put in 5.  I think the pectin could have handled 6 and we would have gotten that last jar filled.
3.) "No Sugar" can just mean "Low Sugar".  The sugar-full recipe from the Ball Cookbook calls for 6 cups of sugar!  If you make six half-pints of jam, that's a cup of sugar in every jar.  If your fruit is sweet enough, hopefully you won't need it.  I'll report back on whether or not this jam is too earth-mothery and not sweet enough, but I sense that it will be delicious.
4.) The jars are supposed to sit on the counter for 24 hours covered with a towel and not be disturbed.  The best part of making jam is hearing the whoosh of the sealing jars.  The worst is waiting to taste the delicious fruits of your labor (there I go again!  I just can't help it!)

So there you have it, a jam-making extravaganza!  A million thanks to the lovely and helpful Stacy who took most of these pictures.  Stacy took home a jar of each of the jams and she sent me this final hilarious photo of trying to get them home without disturbing them:

You know it has been a good summer day's work when you come home with a cupholder full of jam!  Yay jam!  Thanks Stacy!


1 comment:

  1. That's the best! Thanks for the shout out! I had a blast too! :)