Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stand Back! Jam Boiling Point has been Reached!

This weekend, we seized the third day of the weekend to begin preserving foods (something we should have started a few weeks ago).  Up until now I have been planning what our annual food consumption will be so I know how much to preserve, and I will do a more detailed entry about that soon.  For now, we sort of missed out on strawberries and peas (peas are very crucial to our personal sanity) but we are working on fixing this issue.  Our fingers are crossed that someone has everbearing strawberries which should come into a secondary season soon and we are also hoping we can do some experimentation with peas and our second planting of those.  In the meantime, we got 4.25 pounds of sugar snap peas and blanched and froze them, which came out to 13 cups.  We also blanched and froze 6 cups of garden peas (shelled peas).  On Saturday, our kitchen was filled to the brim with green peas laying out to dry before they went into the freezer. 

At the Clintonville Farmers Market on Saturday, we picked up 4.5 lbs. of peaches and 2 half pints of raspberries so we could make peach melba jam.  On Monday, I sat in front of the TV slicing and dicing 8 cups of peaches (some of which had some little wormy friends that were not harmed).  My partner in crime, Lauren, joined me – as she often does when I am trying some new and messy recipe.  We followed this recipe for peach melba jam from suite101.com.  I was happy that I didn’t have to skin the peaches, because I hate wasting stuff like that (I also have an unusual fondness for peach skin).  In a large pot, we boiled the peaches and lemon juice clip_image002(which we had leftover in the fridge from previous projects).  We then added the 2 cups of raspberries and 2.5 cups of Pioneer sugar from Michigan sugar beets.  Here’s where it gets messy.  While the pot boils, some crazy person has to stand in front of it and stir it to keep it from burning for 20-25 minutes.  For a majority of the time, that poor person was Lauren while I prepped the canning equipment.  The jam likes to spit and sputter which it did not only all over her but also all over the stove and kitchen floor.  We sterilized the jars in the dishwasher (the perfect number of them, which was fantastic) and we decided to do the hot water bath canning method, which we had never done before.  We had a rack from a pressure canner, a big canner which was used as a decorative piece in the living room until now, and our tongs were regular cooking tongs (no rubber grippers because those are MIA in the basement or garage somewhere), so it was all a bit risky.  However, we packed the jars, processed them for 10 minutes and listened as they all popped!  The jars are all sealed and we surpassed our goal of 6 half pints and got 9 plus a little extra for this week, which I just enjoyed on some fresh baked bread that I made yesterday.  Yummmmmm.    

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