Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guest Post (The Woman Who Ate Everything): Yes, we CAN

I have always been intimidated by canning. Fear of botulism, mainly. That odorless, colorless poison that will kill you and everyone you cook for. Luckily, my friend Rachel has gently guided me past that fear and helped me realize my Anne of Green Gables/Little House on the Prairie fantasies. There is nothing like the flavor and fragrance of your own jam. It's so good you'll want to dab some behind your ears. In the past two years, we have canned cherry, plum, apricot, and blueberry jam. Today, it was peach jam.

A lot of canning books will take you through it step-by-step, but a few key notes are that you should never, never alter the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. I know, it seems like a lot of sugar. For instance, today, we used four cups of crushed peaches and a whopping seven and a half cups of sugar. However, the sugar is a crucial preservative, and straying from that amount puts you in danger of, yes, botulism. Second, I believe in pectin. Pectin helps the jam to set. You can buy it at a store or order it online. Trust me, pectin is worth every penny. You can make pectin yourself with lemon or apple seeds, but I value my time a little more than that. My one and only pectin-free cherry jam experience was extended by at least two hours while we waited and waited for the jam to set. Third, be sure to wipe off the rim of the jam jar with a wet paper towel after pouring the jam into it. Failure to do so will result in improper sealing, which can result in, say it with me, botulism.

But follow the recipe and these tips, and you will be in possession of the best jam you have ever tasted. Summer in a jar is great for toast, stirring into your yogurt or oatmeal, or baking into my next project, homemade pop tarts...

No comments:

Post a Comment