This is what I did last weekend.

Canning Party

Yum. Three lovely ladies canned with me: Sarah made raspberry fig freezer jam, Andrea made blackberry jam, Pearl made peach jam and strawberry jam, and I made jalapeño jelly (with jalapeños from my garden) and lavender infused strawberry freezer jam. My previous canning experience was limited to pickles, jalapeño jelly, and blueberry jam, so most of these recipes were new to me, though the process is basically the same. I thought I’d share a few of the things we learned this time around.

  • If you want your fruit pureed, use a blender. If you just want it smashed without doing it by hand, use a stand mixer (e.g. KitchenAid). Make sure you have a pouring shield for the bowl that goes all the way around, because those berries sure will fly across the kitchen.
  • Having an eight cup measuring bowl was very useful. Most of the recipes required 8 cups of berries, and it’s nice to have it all in one bowl at once.
  • I still think this canning kit is absolutely required when canning. It makes life so much easier than trying to make do with tongs and regular funnels.
  • The canning rack I currently have is only good for pint jars; the half-pint jars fall down between the cracks. This canning rack says small jars won’t fall out, so maybe I need to go buy it.
  • Freezer jams take the least amount of time to make; jams that use added pectin take a little bit of time; jams with no added pectin take forever. You have to stir the jam until it reaches its gelling point, which took between 30 and 45 minutes for one batch. Freezer jam definitely has a different consistency than cooked jam. We’ll see what the taste difference is, if any, between the last two methods!

We got most of our recipes from this book, and a few others from the Ball website. I made the jalapeño jelly label last year, and the others were printed from Sweet Preservation. I made a canning playlist that started from Sweet Preservation’s list, and ended up here:

  • Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America
  • Cherry Pie by Warrant
  • Georgia Peaches by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Jammin’ by Bob Marley
  • Rotten Peaches by Elton John
  • Apples. Peaches, Bananas and Pears by The Monkees
  • Blackberry by The Black Crowes
  • Cherry, Cherry by Neil Diamond
  • Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries by Lisa Loeb
  • Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles

We were able to sample the jelly that didn’t fill up the last jar from each batch, and they were all very, very good. Especially on fresh French bread with goat cheese. Mmmm…