So I figure, while I’m embracing this forced hippie life, why not dive in even further. Let's take up canning! Because obviously, I needed a new hobby. (Right.) Now trust me, I had no interest in canning. At all. The thought had never even crossed my mind. But then I made my own barbecue sauce. And then Boyfriend raved so much about it, he wanted to give some to his brother and coworker for them to try.
It’s one thing to make a batch and put it in my fridge to use. I have a very high tolerance for expiration dates (I mean, those are really just suggestions, right? As long as it smells fine..), and if I make myself sick, well it’s my own fault for being stupid. And it's fine to give it to Boyfriend who used it on nearly everything almost immediately. It’s a completely different thing to give it to someone else who may or may not use it in a timely manner. And I don’t want to kill anyone with spoiled food. So I started Googling how to can homemade barbecue sauce. And found out just how easy it really is. Boiling water, a big pot, and some Mason jars. That’s really about all you need. Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that, but if you’ve got those, you’re nearly ready to can!
After my first BBQ attempt, I was hooked. I wanted to can everything in sight! With my aversion of all things veggie, the next obvious step was to make jam. Lots of jam. Blackberry, strawberry, cherry.. Jam, jam, jam! And it’s all so easy! I may never, ever buy jam at the store again. At this very moment, I have 4 different types of hanging out in my pantry. Which is perfect, since I'm living on a PB&J budget with my hippie ways.
Making and canning jam isn’t as scary as it seems. I went from thinking about canning, to reading books about canning, to actually canning my own jam in the course of an afternoon. 1 afternoon! The next morning I had toast and jam for breakfast. My own jam. That I made. Jam that spread just like Smuckers. And tasted just as good! If I can figure it out in my tiny little kitchen (and win a 1st place Blue Ribbon at the Ohio State Fair for my first attempt at Cherry Jam!), I have all the faith that you can too.
The fantastic thing about this recipe is that you can use it with any fruit or combination of fruit you want--as long as the fruit measures 1 1/3 cups. The other great thing--it only makes 2 half-pints, so you don't have to use a truckload of fruit, and you're not left wondering what to do with a dozen jars of jam.
Strawberry Peach Jam
Adapted from Ball Classic Pectin package
Makes two half-pint jars
8 oz strawberries, stemmed, hulled, and quartered*
1 large peach, peeled, chopped*
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 teaspoons bottled lemon juice, divided
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 ½ tablespoons Ball RealFruit classic pectin
*Note: Once pureed, fruit should measure 1 1/3 cups. Add a few more strawberries or a couple more slices of peach if you come up a little short.
1. In a large stockpot or waterbath canner, place clean half-pint jars in water, allowing water to cover jars completely, and bring water to a gentle simmer. In a small saucepan, place lids and rings in water to cover and bring to a slight simmer. Place a small clean plate into the freezer to chill.
2. Place strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Allow to macerate for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute juices.
3. Place contents of bowl, including all juices, in a blender or food processor with peach, pulsing to puree.
4. In a large saucepan, combine fruit puree, remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and vanilla bean, stirring to combine. Gradually add pectin, stirring well to combine. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat that cannot be stirred down. Add remaining 1 cup of sugar, stirring to combine, and bring mixture back to a rolling boil, boiling for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.
5. Remove plate from freezer and drop a teaspoon of jam onto the plate. Return to freezer for about 2 minutes, or until jam has cooled. When jam has cooled, push it with your finger. If the jam wrinkles, it is done. If it is too runny, return to a boil and boil for another minute before removing from heat and testing again.
6. Once set, remove jars, lids, and rings from waterbath. Pour hot jam into jars, leaving ¼-inch of space at the top of each jar. Wipe any drips from the rims. Center the lid on the jar, and tighten the ring around the jar. Return jars to the canner, making sure jars are covered completely and bring to a boil. Once water has come to a boil, process jars for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn heat off and let jars stand for 5 minutes in water. Remove jars from the water and allow to cool to room temperature. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Any jars that have not sealed should be used immediately or reprocessed in the same manner using new lids.