I’ve always been fascinated by canning but as a single girl living in an apartment, it neither seemed necessary or practical. Nor was I sure that I’d be able to safely and properly preserve anything. This year I finally gave in and took my first stab at canning.
I went to my local grocery to buy some 1/2-pint Ball canning jars and a canning kit (funnel, canning tongs, etc.). Space in my little kitchen is at a premium and I was only going to make a small batch so there was no need to get a big canning pot. Instead I used my 12-quart pasta pot, using the basket to hold the jars during the hot water bath.
Food & Wine: Triple-Ginger Nectarine Jam
I was inspired by an article in the July 2012 issue of Food & Wine and the recipe for Triple-Ginger Nectarine Jam. It sounded tasty, the recipe looked pretty easy, and it was a small batch recipe (makes two pints). I picked up some local nectarines while I was at the grocery store.
First thing I learned about canning – there’s nothing so satisfying as hearing the lids pop as they cool down from the water bath. It’s like a little confirmation that you did things right.
Lesson learned from this first attempt – because the recipe doesn’t use any pectin I should have cooked it longer until I got a more jam-like consistency. The cooked fruit reached the correct temperature and is extremely tasty but it could be thicker. We had it on whole wheat scones and it was delicious!
Heated, this makes a great topping for vanilla ice cream. Also stirring a spoonful into Greek yogurt and topping it with some homemade granola (see my earlier post about my favorite granola) is a yummy, filling breakfast.
Food in Jars: Blueberry Jam
My second attempt was inspired by a friend. She gave me the recipe from a cookbook called Food in Jars, one of her go-to books for canning and preserves. This recipe for blueberry jam incorporates cinnamon and nutmeg for a lightly spiced, not too sweet blueberry jam. As I had a quart of blueberries sitting in my fridge, this seemed like a perfect recipe to try.
Unlike the first jam, this one did call for liquid pectin. However my friend told me that cooking it just a little longer would thicken the jam to the right consistency. I also cut the recipe in half but that didn’t seem to matter, it turned out just fine.
Now I have eight little jewel colored jars of jam sitting on my shelf and I can’t help admiring my handiwork whenever I see them. I’m looking for other recipes to try, reminding myself that there will only be so much jam I’ll be able to store and eat in the coming months.