Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Alrighty Fresnans! It’s that time of year again when you, or someone you know, has been burdened by an abundance of produce. Your mom’s got a peach tree. Your roommate has been urban foraging for figs again. Or, God forbid, you know anyone who planted a zucchini this year. Fear not! Pencil in an afternoon of good ol’ fashioned canning and make your grandma proud.
Part I: Go Shopping. I always head for Fresno Ag, but really any hardware store will do. Get yourself a bunch of jars with lids and canning tongs. If you are really into recycling, you can always get old jars from thrift stores and merely purchase new lids.
Part II: Kitchen Prep: First off, put a damn radio in the kitchen for some music. Invite over a friend (even if they just sit there). Put on some light summer clothes to sweat in, and have plenty of cold beverages around (beer or iced tea really hits the spot). Clean out all your jars and lids in warm soapy water or the dishwasher. Keep them sterile!
Part III: Make yo’ Filling. I’ve done lots and lots of internet searches, but really it’s easiest to do this all by taste. Basically, dump your washed fruit into a large, heavy bottomed pan, add a squeeze of lemon and start cooking. At some point, I add in a ton of sugar (by a ton, usually about 1/3 of the volume of the fruit in the pot) and one crazy flavoring (lemon thyme, bay leaves, oolong tea, cloves, chilies). Keep cooking this all down until it is thick and sticks to a plate that’s been in the freezer for a while. It usually takes about 30 minutes. No need for that pesky pectin!
Part IV: Can it, Lady. Using a funnel, carefully spoon your finished jam into your clean jars. Leave about ½ inch of room at the top. Wipe down the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel. Carefully place the lid and ring on the jar and tighten. Once you get all your neat little jars sealed, boil them in a large pot of water (making sure they are fully submerged) for at least 15 minutes (you can Google specific processing times). Once they have cooled a bit, you can wait to see if the jars are sealed by the gentle “ping” they make when you tap the tops.
Part V: Give someone some love and pass it on. Don’t you feel good?!