Today I thought I'd dip my toes back in the water, with a canning update. Because that's free of scandal, right?
Every summer I look forward to fresh fruit on sale, and lots of it, so we can eat it, of course, but also so I can put up the year's worth of jam. Right now I am down to only 2 pints of the jam I made last summer, so that worked out pretty well! And during the year I didn't buy any jam from the store and I only bought one bottle of pancake syrup!
Raspberries came first this season for me, so I bought a lot. Conor loves "Jam Days," as he calls them. He's actually a pretty trusty helper. The first day we made two batches of raspberry jam.
All those little 4oz. jars of jam will be Christmas gifts for teachers. They're all put away until I can make cute tags to go with them. With only the four jars left for us, I made another two batches of raspberry jam a few days later. And also two batches of strawberry jam.
Then peaches and plums went on sale, and I went a little crazy. From my new Ball canning book I'd been wanting to try a few new recipes. But these peaches (which I made the produce manager open up before I bought them so I could confirm that they were freestone and not cling) were amazingly delicious and only $0.49/lb. I bought a lot. My goal was to make some peach jam and also to bottle 7 quarts of peaches, something I hadn't tried on my own before.
I got my jars all sterilized and ready.
And here's what I ended up with from all those peaches. Six quarts of bottled peaches, 9 pints of peach jam, and 3 pints of peach sauce. I'm not thoroughly satisfied with the pints. The jam is runny and the peach sauce is only 'sauce' because after it was canned I realized I'd forgotten to add the pectin! I was definitely trying to do too many things in the kitchen that morning. Now, it's all still perfectly useful and delicious, but kind of defeating, too. I am really thinking I'll open up some of that syrup/jam and try it again, adding more pectin. Half of it is for my friend, Luisa, and though she's come up with many perfectly satisfying uses for peach syrup, I still want some jam. We'll see.
But speaking of Luisa, (WHO NOW LIVES HERE IN CALIFORNIA WITH ME, OH MY GOSH!) we had such a great time last week when she came over for a day of canning with me. I call it our Jam Session. She brought her three youngest kids, who played happily with Conor, while we jammed in the kitchen. We've been the best of friends for over 12 years, but it's always been a coast-to-coast relationship. I couldn't get over the fact that here she was in my home! We made six batches of jam that day, before we had to head to swimming lessons with the kids. We made Orange-Plum and Mango-Raspberry. All truly delicious.
And then there were the mangoes. I saw in the weekly ad that mangoes would be on sale, 3/$1. That's incredible, so I went the first day to stock up only to find that every single mango was gone. But no matter. I found out that there would be a new shipment at the store when they opened at 6am, so I was there, and I bought my 30 mangoes. We used many of them for the Mango-Raspberry jam above, but some of them are still not ripe, so we're waiting them out, and then they will be turned into Mango jam. Which is totally divine. Especially on pancakes.
Here is Lyndsay cutting up mangoes for me. The jam-making must be a family affair, right? And she's so good to do all the parts that I hate doing, like cutting up mangoes.
So now I have a lot of jam. And Luisa and I still have plans to make apricot, at least. I would also like to make a few batches of blueberry, since that was by far my family's favorite this year. It feels so wonderful to see those jars, filled with the freshest fruit of summer, waiting to nourish my family all year long. And probably to share with friends, also.