Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Canning Jam

Last year when I made Jam, I hade to make Freezer Jam, because I didn't know how to can things. But now I have taken the Master Food Preserver classes through the extension service, and I am practically an expert (in book-learning), with all the USDA approved food safety information at my fingertips! I need practice though, so I bought a flat of Strawberries and spent the day making Jam!

This is also a chance to use my new toy!


This is a MasterBuilt Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. I spotted it on craigslist and snapped it up after doing a little research and confirming my suspicions that it looks like a perfectly serviceable electric water bath canner. It has an element inside, and a metal basket sits on top of that. It has an adjustable thermostat, and a glass lid so I can keep tabs on what's going on in there. It cost $75, and was like new, even in the original box and well taken care of. Electric water bath canners cost about $300, and I knew I could never justify buying one of those - this is right in my price range!

So I cleaned and mashed up my berries, and did my first batch with a regular pectin, full sugar recipe. Seems like I had to boil it forever to get it to thicken up. I finally tested some in the fridge and decided it passed the test, but it still might be pretty thin.

Into the pot. It holds 11 half-pint jars. Lid on, I cranked up the heat, and after a few minutes it worked it's way up to a rolling boil. Ten minutes of processing later...

First batch was cooling on the counter. Well, actually it cooled in the pot for five minutes first, then it was ready to cool on the counter.

For the second batch, I did a low-sugar recipe, and instead of pectin I used a modified food starch called Clear Jel. That thickened up very nicely. Processed it for ten minutes, and then it was ready to cool on the counter.

Yum, we'll be eating Jam until next strawberry season! And this year it won't be taking up our freezer space - last year half my freezer was filled with freezer jam!

Hmm, there's still some strawberries left.

Well, I haven't tried drying strawberries, and now seems like as good a time as any. So two trays of strawberries go into the dehydrator. There's still enough left for a big bowl in the fridge. 

Man, I love berry season!

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