Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jam 101 or Brian Makes Jam!

Here in my corner of Canada-Land, we are at the end of Strawberry Season. It was a joyous time.

This blog was going to be an account of how I make jam. I've done it the past two summers and I've been pleased with the results. Well, except for one little disaster that could have been called 'Strawberry Dessert Topping'. However, I had told a number of people that I was going to be making JAM and therefore, anything less would have been woefully inadequate. So, this past weekend was designated Jam Making Weekend #1. As I type, the final load of Strawberry Jam is on the counter, cooling and lid-popping. Brian decided that his mission in life was to join me in our teeny-tiny kitchen this year for jam making so we could frolic and romp and grope each other amid hot jars and boiling fruit like In-Lust, Romantical teenagers whose parents have vacated the premises for the weekend. Just kidding, hun. Really, Brian said he'd be happy to help. He's been my resident motivator lately. It's great.

It was nice to have two people involved. We cleaned as we went. I could obsessively read the recipe book while he stirred. One of us was available to parent without the risk of wrecking the jam.

Some of you in our audience today may not believe that Brian made jam, but I assure you, he did the majority of this batch of jam that you will see. He also paved the way so that we eventually got 3 batches of jam done up that first weekend. Not only that, but this weekend, we've made another batch of Strawberry jam together and he's driven to three different stores for more supplies. I'd share the complete menu, but you'll have to wait for your Christmas baskets.

To make our jamming session go smoothly, we went berry picking. Seriously. Fresh, local berries are the best.

See? Fresh-picked berries.

Didn't Brian do a beautiful job hulling berries? For you berry virgins, that means to pull out the green bits. While Bri did the manual labour, I prepared all the dishes and supporting ingredients we needed.

Bri then crushed the berries...

...and added the secret ingredients.

Here you can see the stove station all set up. We have the snap-top lids heating - Never Boiling! in a shallow pan. In the giant lobster pot on the left, we have all our jars heating - Never Boiling! I got to do this part.

Berries are cooking in this photo. This part took a bit. So Bri made milkshakes. While making jam!!! After all these years, he still amazes me. Once the berries were boiling rapidly, things sped up.

Then the sugar goes in. I got to do this part.

Here is the key make-or-break step of your jam making procedure: Boil and stir for 60 seconds. See how the fruit mixture is threatening to escape the pot? Brian held steady, though. He did minimal stressing during this step. Sure is hard not to flinch, though, when the hot jam spatters onto your arm.

After the requisite 60 seconds, Brian removed the pot from the heat and skimmed the foam. No one likes foamy jam.

Here we have the jam going into the jars. I helped with this part, too.

It's very important to release the air form the jar as the jam goes in. A few swipes with a rubber spatula does the trick.

And then the lid goes on. Yes, that's a magnetic lid-grabber. You'd have one too if you were grabbing lids out of hot water with your hands during previous jam making festivities.

Lids on and the jam jars go back in the hot water to process.

And there you have it. Jam's done! The lids 'pop' very soon after you take them out of the boiling water. That's the vacuum seal required for successful canning.

You wouldn't believe some of things you can put up in cans. Did you know you can make watermelon rind pickles?! Can't wait to have that in your Christmas basket, can you?! (Actually, I'm kind of don't be surprised.)

I hope to make a few things this year as some of the produce comes into season. I'm thinking something spicy with hot peppers, maybe a spread that could double as a pastry/tart filling and perhaps a blueberry jam if I can bear to part with my fresh-frozen Maritime Blueberries. Wish me luck!


oom said...

Good job, guys!! Looks very ymmuy :-) I am very impressed - and feeling just a tad inadequate.... ;-P I am happy with myself if I can make it to the market for the homemade-by-someone-else kind LOL!

Watermelon rind pickles are easy - I've done it. You KNOW it has to be simple if *I* have tackled it LOL!

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

awesome....I am inspired to try my own!

jugglingpaynes said...

Wow! This is so professional!
Of course, I couldn't follow all of it because I'm more of a visual learner. Do you mind do it all over again but video tape it?
Peace and Laughter,