Apricot Jam

Once or twice a year, Andrew and I embark on some sort of canning adventure. In the summer, usually it’s berry jam, in the fall applesauce. But this year, our CSA had a bumper crop of apricots! So off we went to pick 30 lbs of loving fruit and quickly after the kids went to bed, we got started jamming up these ‘cots. Each time I “jam” I learn something new, so I hope if you are a fellow canner, you can gleam some helpful hints! I highly recommend this site if you are looking for a great step by step how to on canning and making jam.

First of all, I discovered Ponoma’s Pectin – yay! This pectin allows you to make jam with as much or as little added sweetener as you want. I didn’t know this before, but normal pectin needs a 1/1 ratio (typically) to gel or set the jam. When you use a “low sugar” pectin, you can decrease the amount of added sugar. This can get tricky unless you have a solid recipe to follow. Hence, the Ponoma Pectin filled in nicely here. (I’m not making money on this product I promise!). I appreciated the instructions included in their box. There was a recipe for just about any type of jam you’d like to make, and a ration of how much pectin you need depending on how much sweetener you want to use. So, for example, I was able to make a few jars using honey instead of sugar, a few using maple syrup, and a few using just a juice concentrate. Each one was super tasty and we certainly didn’t miss the usual buckets of refined white sugar that I used to use when making jam.

And, we aren’t quite done with our apricots. Next we’re going to do some apricot nectar, apricot fruit snacks, and apricot purees. For the price of one of those baby fruit packets from the store, you can score a whole pound of apricots! That makes a lot of baby “food” puree. Woohoo!

Applesauce!

After our apple picking adventure, we got down to business to make
some applesauce. Last year, my friend Joyce taught me how to do it,
so I was excited to do it all over again. As usual, my dear husband
stayed up with me, peeling and cutting up a bushel of apples. I am
often amazed at how easy it is to make your own applesauce, and how
much tastier it is than the store bought! I also cooked down several
quarts to make apple butter, which has been divine. The boys favorite
these days is peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches!

 

If you are looking to give it a try, I found this site as a really
useful guideline

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Blackberry Jam

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Each summer, I wish I knew how to jar/can things to make jams. So
last fall, I learned from my dear friend Joyce how to can applesauce.
She kindly gave me her canning tools – so this year I was determined
to can some of these lovely looking berries that I’ve been seeing and
picking.

The boys and I picked a bunch of blackberries with some friends, and
geared up to make some jam! Little did I know, jam recipes are not
all the same. I literally spent days searching the internet, reading
sunset magazine, looking in cookbooks, and talking to friends. I hope
this post helps you if you are newbie to this whole process as I was.

Freezer jam is a great alternative if you want to bypass the whole
“canning” thing. In my case, I wanted to give it a try, so I decided
to go with a non-freezer jam.

Pectin is used in some recipes but not all. I had the hardest time
deciding if it was necessary to add or not. The pioneer woman
described it best as “helpful but not necessary”. Well, I wanted all
the help I could get, so I opted for pectin.

All the blackberry jam recipes I found added lemon and lemon zest, so
this was a keeper.

I settled on a mixture of two recipes – one from Martha Stewart and
one from FoodInJars.com Martha suggested letting the berry flavor
stand out on it’s own, adding only lemon zest, juice, and a bay leaf.
FoodInJars added cinnamon and nutmeg, so I decided to leave those out,
but in general I followed her recipe aside from these two spices. I
also appreciated how she strained the berries first so the jam was
seedless. I hate chomping on berry seeds.

So here is the end result! I think, for a first time, it came out
really tasty. But, FYI – don’t be like me and only make half the
recipe. I ended up with 2 jars of jam, after all that work!!! ha!

And, if you want a reminder of how to can, Pioneer Woman does a great
demonstration with beautiful step by step pictures.

Seedless Blackberry Jam
makes approximate 3 pints

6 cups blackberry pulp (8-9 cups of berries, mashed through a strainer
with the back of a wooden spoon)
4 cups sugar
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 packet liquid pectin (half the box) or 1/3 packet of dry pectin

Prepare your jars, start your lids to simmering and bring your canning
pot to a boil.

In a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron),
combine the sugar and fruit pulp and bring to a simmer. Add bay
leaves, lemon zest/juice and stir to combine. Let the mixture reach a
boil, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling over. When the
mixture appears to be thickening a bit, bring it back to a roiling
boil and add the pectin. Let it boil vigorously for at least five
minutes to activate the pectin. Remove bay leaves before filling
jars.

Fill your jars with the hot jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and
process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes. Turn off heat, let
jars sit in water 5 more minutes.

Remove from canner and allow the jars to completely cool on a
dishtowel-lined counter top.

Once the jars are cool, check the seals, label them and eat jam on
toast in January!