I grew up in a family where canning was just something you had to do. Although I enjoyed every minute as a young girl watching my mother slave over hot gurgling pressure cookers and mounds of fruits and vegetables, I’m not so sure she shared the same sentiment for the process or the huge production as I did. When I share my enthusiasm for canning with my mother today or pick her brain for tips and techniques on how she canned chicken or beef, did she use pectin in her jams, why did she choose to freeze some things and can others… she just shakes her head and cannot understand why I would go through the trouble.
I’ll tell you why I think it's worth the trouble. For one, canning foods can actually enhance the flavor of the food, a blackberry jam can actually taste better than the blackberries themselves! I also find no greater joy than tasting a bit of summer in the dead of winter; I love popping open a jar of canned peaches on Christmas morning and drinking a nice glass of champagne to usher in the glorious day. Perhaps this is a characteristic that is rare but I happen to love anticipation, I started a crock of raspberry liquor last week that should be ready just in time for a New Years toast… I enjoy the anticipation of drinking it in 6 months as much as the act of drinking it!
Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
- Make small batches 6 to 8 jars at a time; it is more approachable and less overwhelming.
- Wash your jars, rings and lids thoroughly and put them on a sheet pan lined with a clean dish towel. Keep them at 200 degrees in the oven, this is easier than boiling them and they are ready whenever you are.
- You do not need to mash raw fruit when making jam, after the fruit has been cooked just use a potato masher to crush it.