Well, actually restarted. My mother had a large garden for a number of years in the great state of Ohio. (Best tomatoes are grown in Ohio – IMO).
We also had several fruits growing in the yard – strawberries, raspberries and black berries. She made jellies and jams with the fruit and canned the veggies. I recall one bad experiment — she tried to make ketchup. She reduced and reduced – and burned it. Smelled very bad; that batch was thrown away. I’d helped her with the canning process – mostly washing the jars and watching the timer – and keeping my brothers out of the kitchen. Good memories.
I’d been wanting to do some canning and when I saw those plums, I decided to go for it. So I fired up Amazon and ordered jars and tongs. I also ordered the smaller All American Pressure Canner. This one can handle pint and quart jars. You can also use it as a pressure cooker.
I’ve always wanted to experiment with the pressure cooker but have been a little afraid of it. This model has a couple of safety features that I liked. As I wrote in my last post, you don’t need the pressure component for jellies and jams – which is good because I’m still working up to using the pressure part.
Using the recipe in the Ball book, here are the steps I used to make 8 pints of Plum Jelly:
Step 1: Gather the equipment and ingredients. This included purchasing the jars, canner, jar labels, plums, lemons, sugar and pectin. You’ll need a small pan in which to warm the lids and rings and a large pot in which to make the jelly. You should also have tongs, jar holders, oven mitts, paper towels or washcloth, towel (or silicon mat), wire rack, a ladle and funnel.
Step 2: Make the juice. Following the juicing steps in my last post. You can do this ahead of time and store the juice in the refrigerator until ready to use – the sooner the fresher tasting.
Step 3: Prepare the jars and lids. First wash them; you can run the jars through a dish washer cycle if you wish. Fill the small pan with about 2 inches of water and add the lids and bands. Set on low heat on back burner – this is just to keep them warm – don’t boil them. Next, put the rack in the canner and fill the canner about half full of water and set on a big burner on high heat. Fill the jars with warm water and set them in the canner – do not let the jars touch. The water should cover the jars.
Step 4: Prepare the work area. Not that the other steps aren’t important but this is very important for speed and also safety. I am lucky in that I have a large straight path from from stove burners to the sink to the rest of the counter. So I am able to line up everything. I set a towel on my counter (you could probably use a silicon mat as well) to hold the filled jars while I put the lids and bands on them. Have ready a paper towel or cloth to wipe the rims after filling and before putting on the lids and bands.
Step 5: Make the Jelly. Add the juice to the large pot and bring to a roiling boil. Add the pectin to the juice – stir to completely dissolve. All the sugar all at once and bring back to a rolling boil. Let boil for about a minute – the jelly should be thickened. Remove from heat.
Step 6: Fill and cap the jars. This is the tricky part for me; I do the jars two at a time. Using jar lifter, pull one jar out of the canner and dump the water out of the jar and back into the canner. Place the jar on the towel for filling. Using a ladle and funnel, fill the jar to within 1/4 inch of the jar rim. I fill a second jar in the same way. Wipe the rims to ensure there is no residue on the rims; if you don’t do this, it’s possible your jar won’t seal and your jelly cannot be stored. Using tongs, lift a lid out of the warming pan and lay on a jar top. Do this for the second jar. Using a oven mitt, hold a jar and put a band on the jar to ‘finger-tight’. This means it is barely tight; this allows excess air to escape during the canning process. Do the same for the second jar. Continue this pattern until you have all 8 jars capped.
Step 7: Process the jars. This is where you will boil the heck out of the jars – by heck I mean any remaining bacteria that could cause your jelly to spoil during storage. Read this for more information on bacteria spoilage. Place each jar back in the canner, again not allowing them to touch. You may have to adjust the amount of water in the canner – just make sure there is about an inch of water covering the top of the jars. Close the canner according to the non-pressurized instructions and bring the heat up to high. After steam begins to come out of the steam vent, start your processing timer. Allow to boil for the amount of time directed by the recipe. This was 15 minutes I believe. Turn off the heat. Again, following the directions in the receipt, remove the canner cover and let the jars sit for 5 minutes.
Step 8: Remove the jars from the canner. Using the jar lifters, pull out the jars and set on the wire rack to cool. They should remain untouched for 12 hours.
Step 9: Clean up. Let the canner cool completely before emptying — it’s very heavy and hot — this could take a couple of hours. Clean the rest of the equipment and kitchen.
Step 10: Checking for proper seal. If you’ve done everything right, you should hear the seal ‘ping’ within a few minutes of removing the jars from the canner. After 12 hours, test the seal by 1) pressing down in the center of the lid – it shouldn’t move and 2) removing the ring and holding the jar up by the lid – it shouldn’t come off the jar. The sealed jars should be labeled with the contents and date of canning and can be stored in a non-refrigerated cabinet and used within a year. If a jar doesn’t seal, you can freeze the product or refrigerate and use within a week. OR you could reprocess the jelly. If you reprocess, you’ll need new lids. I just froze mine.
I also canned apple pie filling (my own recipe) and another recipe from the Ball cook called ‘Apple Pie in a Jar’. Yummy.
I was only able to achieve 50% seals on these first attempts but I am certain I will get better with more practice.
I plan to create an amazing spaghetti sauce and can it next. I’ll have to use the pressurized method with that one.