Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adventures in canning

Last week sometime, I stumbled upon Erin from $5 Dinners tweeting about picking berries at a local farm.  I was intrigued.  We have gone berry picking for the last several years with the kids for fun.  Usually we don't pick a lot, but it's the experience we are after.  This year, the farm we usually pick from had so much rain that the weren't offering u-pick.  I was scampering to find another farm when I came across Erin's tweet.  I ask her where she was and she was kind enough to share.  She was at Stokes Berry Farm, which isn't too far from me.  Once I looked it up I realized it was just one main road with two turns.  My kind of directions!

[caption id="attachment_4593" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Look at those bright berries!"][/caption]

We picked our day, which happened to be last Saturday and invited our friends who love berries like we do, to go along.  Saturday morning, we took off.  I liked this farm a lot better than our usual one, so I think we will be heading back to Stokes next year!  Yay!  All told we picked 10 pounds of strawberries, red raspberries and black raspberries.  My van smelled heavenly on the way home!

Once we got home we rinsed and cut all the berries.  Some headed into the freezer for flash freezing, but the bulk of them went right into a bowl to be mashed for jam.  I have been wanting to attempt canning for the last several years.  Call me weird, domestic, whatever, but the idea of canning something seemed like a lot of fun!  We mashed the berries and put them into the fridge for the next night (which actually turned out to be 3, but hey, life gets busy).

Tuesday night I gathered all the supplies while Chuck took care of tucking the kids in bed.  You see, Chuck was just as excited to try this as I was.  Then it was canning time!  We got out all the berries and began our first adventure in canning.  To be honest, it went pretty well.  We had read all about what it takes to make good jam.  We thought we were ready.  I mean, we had the pectin measured out.

Chuck was stirring the mixture of berries, sugar and pectin.

Then I had the bright idea to send off a tweet about what we were doing.  That's when the berry mixture boiled over the pan and got all over the stove.  This was followed up by a few "choice" words and a comedy show right in our kitchen.  Imagine me trying to pull the hot pan off the stove while the mixture is spilling everywhere.  Chuck scurrying to get the mix off of the burner.  Me almost dropping the pan in the floor.  Both of quietly yelling at one another, because all heck would break loose if the kids woke up.  Oh, did I mention this scene played out twice?  Yeah.  Twice.  Two different batches, same scenario.  We could have won $10,000 if we had put up a camera in our kitchen that night.  Really.  Sorry, no pictures for this mess.  A camera was the last thing on my mind.

Finally though, we did get the stuff into the jars and using the "water boil method" got all the jars to "set".  We now have around 24 half pint jars of jam and we are thrilled!  We are so thrilled with our result that we don't want to open a single jar.  Ever.  That defeats the point though doesn't it?  Right now, we are just happy to look at our jars lined up in the pantry.  I'm sure we will open a couple of them soon though.  A has already complained that she is out of strawberry jam and wants a new jar.  

Have you ever canned anything?  What are some of your adventures?


  1. I made red raspberry jam yesterday, it was my first time canning. I am hooked! I can't wait until I have enough cucumbers to make pickles and I am going to make black raspberry jam too. My canning experience was not as eventful as yours, I was making blueberry walnut bread at the same time and they both turned out great!

  2. You are wonder Mom - I am so impressed. Maybe one day I will attempt this - might need you to come over to hold my hand. My Mom actually used to can jam - it's a childhood memory. :)

  3. Andrea@mommyconfessionsblogJune 30, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    As you know I love to can jelly, jams and whatever else I can get my hands on. It looks like you did a great job. I know you were very nervous about it. Like I told you before it is harder thinking about doing than actually doing it. And the hardest thing doing is CLEANING UP AFTER it. So the real question is how did that handy dandy magic eraser work on getting that sugary mess off of your stove LOL...

  4. We are going to attempt to can some salsa soon! We usually just have mild on hand more for the kids palates, but Chuck and I both love spicy salsa. Can't wait to try it. Hopefully no messes this time ;)

  5. It's a lot easier than we thought. You know me, I over think everything! Next time, I won't!

  6. It worked well. One burner is completely clean. The other one is going to take more time and elbow grease...both of which I've lacked the last couple days. I want it done by Ren's party though, so I have to make time!