adventures in canning

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This was one of my projects back when I rebooted the blog.

In anticipation, I got myself a book, got some small (8 oz) jars, dug the big stock pot out of the basement, and opted for the minimum of toys – a widemouth funnel and a jar lifter.

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My jar lifter and my home-made lid lifter. I didn’t want to spend $15 on a piece of plastic with a magnet on the end, so I made one myself. It’s one of my fridge magnets plus my ancient citrus peeler.

The funnel, shown later on, would have a cost-per-use of pennies even if I’d never canned once. I use it almost every day – it’s perfect for getting food into my lunch thermos. I also use it for getting spices and powders into jars. I love it and cannot imagine how I functioned without it.

 

Of course, I assembled all of my canning supplies in the dead of winter, where there’s precious little in the way of fruit to make jam with or, well, much of anything you want to put in jars. But by March, there were at least some early cheap strawberries to be found. And since they weren’t awesome enough to eat raw, jam they became.

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This is that jam. I opted to make my first attempt without added pectin; there were recipes for that. However, the recipe made a base so sweet – even after I reduced the sugar – that I ended up adding cranberries to cut it. Cranberries are also high in pectin, for the record, so they are always good in a jam. (Pun intended.)

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Warming the jars. I was taking no chances and used my nifty electronic candy thermometer even for this phase. The jars just have to hit 180F for a bit. You can see them resting on the rack I use when I’m roasting chickens and Dad used to use when roasting turkeys. It’s not quite level – possibly from supporting 8+-lb birds for a couple of decades – and the jars migrated to the middle of the pot like a couple of sleepers on an old mattress.

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The Corningware pot is perfect for warming the lids.

 

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Funneling in the jam. After this, I dutifully used one of my little baby spatulas to chase air pockets, but you’ll have to take my word on that.

IMG_2920 Applying the lid. It’s a little lot ghetto, but it worked.

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With the band attached.

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Back in for processing, which is just boiling them for fifteen minutes, letting them sit in the water for a bit, and then taking them out. You hear the vacuum seal during the last part, somewhere between the pot and the countertop. Where they sit quietly for twenty-four hours before you take off the band, check the seal, and replace the band. And then congratulate yourself on needing a whole bunch of toys and guidance for a project that the average 18th century ten-year-old could do unsupervised.

But it still felt good.

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