I really like to make jam. In fact, I really like canning. There is just something so great about a canning project that is satisfying and I feel a sense of accomplishment when the fruit is sealed in the jars and looks so pretty and delicious.
Yesterday, I made some raspberry jam using the raspberries I had left over from a wedding cake I did over the weekend. My new go-to book is one that my Mom gave me a couple of months called "So Easy to Preserve" by the Cooperative Extension--The University of Georgia. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is based at the University of Georgia where Dr. Elizabeth L. Andress teaches and has conducted research on home food canning and freezing methods.
It is an excellent resource on all types of food preservation. This book covers topics such as canning, pickled products, jellied products, freezing and drying foods. Every single recipe included in this book has been tested and if the directions are followed exactly, using the amounts that are listed, you can successfully put up many types of food.
If you are canning for the first time, or would like to make sure that your canning practices are up-to-date, please check their website for complete canning information.
Both the raspberry and apricot jams (the apricot jam is the second part of this post) that I made were processed using the Boiling Water Bath method. Please refer to the directions about this process and use them in conjunction with the directions listed below in the recipes.
*My notes are highlighted in this color.
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve, pg. 207
Mostly Raspberry Jam *I call this Mostly Raspberry Jam, because I had a few blackberries on hand that needed to be used.
*Yields = (5) 1/2-pint jars of jam
4 1/2 cups raspberries
1 cup blackberries
3 1/4 cup sugar
*zest & juice from 2 lemons
1) Sterilize canning jars.
2) Combine berries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.
3) Cook rapidly to, or almost to, jellying point, depending upon whether a firm or soft jam is desired. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
4) Pour hot jam into hot jars, leaving at least 1/4-inch headspace (I left a little more, about 1/2 inch).
5) Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.
6) Remove jars from water bath and carefully transfer to clean towel laid out on the counter and leave for 12 hours undisturbed. After 12 hours, remove rings and wipe down jars before storing.
Note: If seedless jam is preferred, crushed berries may be heated until soft and pressed through a sieve or food mill; then add sugar and proceed as above.
A few weeks before this jam session, I made some of the best apricot jam I've ever had. We had purchased some beautiful Rival Apricots from our local market that is always stocked with local Oregon grown produce. My mom decided to can most of them, but said that I could use the extra apricots for jam.
I had recently read about different flavors and specifically what pairs well with apricot. Vanilla was high on the list. I happen to have a few vanilla beans on hand and decided to experiment with this flavor combination. I wasn't disappointed. The vanilla bean really brought out the sweet apricot flavor and combined with the lemon zest and juice, the apricot was the star of the show! If you look closely at the next couple of pictures, you'll notice the lovely, black specks of vanilla beans scattered throughout the jam.
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve, pg. 207
Jill's Apricot-Vanilla Jam
2 quarts apricots (you can peel them first, but I left the peel on)
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons & 1 orange
1 1/2 vanilla beans, split
*Yields = (14) 1/2 pint jars of jam
1) Sterilize canning jars. Combine all ingredients; slowly bring to boiling, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. (I kept the mixture on low for the first 30 minutes, to really let the vanilla bean flavor infuse into the apricot mixture).
2) Cook rapidly until thick, about 25 minutes. (This may take longer, depending on the thickness of the jam you desire. Also, take out vanilla beans before jam is finished cooking.)
3) As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pour hot jams into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
4) Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.
5) Remove jars from water bath and carefully transfer to clean towel laid out on the counter and leave out undisturbed for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove rings and wipe down jars before storing.