|My seven beautiful jars of Cran-Cherry Jam!|
If you are concerned about the dangers of home canning, I've done a bit of research. Foods with acid in them (fruits), are one of the least dangerous things to can because botulism won't grow in that sort of environment. So, if you do what you're supposed to and boil for 10 minutes, there should be minimal problem. Obviously, if you have concerns about a particular good (bulging lid, off smell, off color, mold, etc), be safe rather than sorry and dispose of it in a way that it will not get in your compost bin, your children's mouths, or pet's tummy.
Bear with me folks, this one is going to be long-winded as I'm going to document the whole canning process so you don't have to go to multiple websites like I did.
First step: wash cherries. I sorted through the bags and removed their stems before putting them in the colander to be washed. I had about two bags of cherries when I started. My thoughts were that I would wash and pit all the cherries I had bought, create the correct ratio of ingredients, and then freeze any extra cherries for smoothies. Oh, and save one of the bags. You'll want it for the next step.
|Cherries getting a shower|
Once you have thoroughly washed the cherries, you arrive to the time-eating part. You must pit the cherries. There are a variety of tools you can use for this. I used this guy: OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter. I alternated between having the cherries stem-side-up and stem-side-down while pitting. It seemed stem-side-down resulted in less cherry meat lost, but stem-side-up had fewer failed pittings. Going from the side results in huge amounts of cherry blow-out. But, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that you wear at least one apron and put the pitter into a bag while you pit so your kitchen doesn't look like a crime scene. The first time I used this tool, I didn't realize the necessity for doing that. I was finding cherry juice spatter a week later. Anyway, while you are engaged in this process, keep an eye out for rogue icky cherries that you might have missed on your first inspection. Some bruises can be cut out, but don't waste too much time trying to save a morsel of cherry when you have an entire colander of perfectly good ones.
|Cast of characters: bowl of pitted cherries, lemons, 100% Juice Cranberry Blend, and Ball's Low or No Sugar pectin.|
Cherry Jam Recipe:
I've seen sites where people have a hard time knowing when something is one and one half cups or just a typo for one half cups, so I've adopted a "+" policy. If an ingredient needs divided, I will note that.
5 + 1/3 cups processed cherries (I left 2 cups of my cherries either whole or halved, and ran the rest through the food processor 9 pulses--just until chopped with some juice, but not completely pureed.)
1 + 1/3 cups 100% juice (Apple is a good option. I used a 100% Juice Cranberry blend)
4 Tablespoons of lemon juice, about one lemon
5-6 Tablespoons of pectin (experiment. I used 6, which resulted in a little too set of jelly)
1-2 cups of honey (I used 1 cup so my cherries would still have a tartness to them)
Yields: 7 half-pints with a little extra for the fridge
In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, fruit juice, and lemon juice. Gradually add in the pectin. Bring to a hard boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
Add the honey (spray your measuring cup with oil for easy removal! Or just guesstimate how much honey you are putting in). Return to a hard boil and stir constantly and very well for one minute.
Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes while you get your (clean, sanitized, still-warm) jars lined up. Note: Some companies recommend you boil your lids. Ball says it isn't really necessary. Do what you are comfortable with.
Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. This is about the depth of the threads. Wipe the rim. Place warm lids centered on, and twist on the bands until tight, but not super tight.
Lower them in a canner that has hot, but not boiling, water in it using tongs. I used a homemade canner because I don't own a regular one and didn't feel like getting one. If you have a pot with a lid that is deep enough to cover the tops of your jars with 1-2 inches of water and still boil comfortably, you can do a homemade canner, too. Simply put a wash cloth or towel on the bottom of the pan so the glass doesn't come in direct contact. Fill up the pot about 1/3-1/2 full. And start the heat.
Cover, bring to a light boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before removing (with tongs!) from the pot. I placed my jars on a towel on my counter. They should make a sealing noise shortly after taking them out, but don't touch the tops until after 8-10 hours. Let them cool and do their thing.
If you have more jars to boil, add them to the canner and repeat the process.
Save the water to nourish your plants once it cools.
|I could fit four in my canner|
|So these three had to wait on deck|
Once they have cooled overnight, check the seals. The center of the jars should be slightly concave (pushed inward). If you had some that didn't seal, stick them in the fridge and eat them in a few weeks. Don't try to get them to seal again unless you try it with a new lid. Remove the bands and dry them. You don't have to store them with the bands on, but I prefer to for added protection. If you do put the bands back on, put them on barely tightened.
Label your jars with what they are (so if you make cranberry sauce later in the year, you don't confuse the two) and the date you made them. Put them on the shelf, on display, or in a gift basket for a friend. Enjoy! Note: it can take a bit for your jelly to set. Mine set within an hour, but I had a little too much pectin, I think. Setting can take up to two weeks.
|Labels with pretty pictures!|