Sunday, September 15, 2013

National Can It Forward Day {Review}


Every year I have the intention to can... and then when my window to can passes, I kick myself for not doing it. This year, that all changed and I hosted a canning party with friends. I'm terribly late in sharing this because the whole event happened a month ago and I can't even tell you how much fun we all had. I was happy to learn that I wasn't the only one among my friends that had the same intentions in canning the slew of options this time of year. From jams, jellys, pickles, vegetable purees, relishes, salsa, etc, the list is endless with what folks are able to can.

I gathered my friends at home in the kitchen where we listened and watched along online [and on our smart phones via Facebook] where Food Network's Chopped host and two-time Emmy and James Beard award winning chef and cookbook author, Ted Allen starred. We learned about jam making, pickling, and even cocktails in mason jars! After awhile, we decided to get jamming while the programming continued in the background.

Together, my friends and I made a mixed berry jam. Thanks to my friends at Ball, they provided me with a FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker. This definitely made jam and jelly making so approachable and easy. It really took no effort at all! To do in the maker, it was a matter of adding fresh berries, pectin, margarine and sugar. The rest was done by the maker and finished up in less than 30 minutes. We were able to enjoy the jam right away and had the option to freeze or use a waterbath process to preserve them. Here's the recipe from Ball we used in the FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker:

Mixed Berry Jam in the Maker

2 2/3 cups crushed berries (we used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
3 tablespoons Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar

Clean the berries with a quick rinse and spin in a salad spinner. Transfer the berries to a large bowl and using a potato masher, crush the berries.

Sprinkle the pectin on the bottom of the empty maker fitted with the stirrer and then add the crushed berries. Add the butter.

Press the 'JAM' button and the cook time automatically defaults to 21 minutes.. and press ENTER.

Wait about 4 minutes for the maker to beep 4 times. This indicates that its time to add the sugar. Slowly pour the sugar into the maker while the stirrer is running. Cover the maker with the glad lid.

The maker will continue to stir the ingredients as it cooks. Once it beeps again, it means the jam is ready! Remove the stirrer with a pot holder and skim off any foam that formed.

You can then enjoy the jam straight from the maker or transfer it to a container. The jam can keep in the freezer or you can preserve it using a water bath.

And while we had a batch making in the FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker, we also made it on the stovetop...

Stovetop Mixed Berry Jam

2 2/3 cups crushed berries (we used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
3 tablespoons Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar

Combine the clean berries in an 8 quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin and bring the mixture to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir constantly.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil for 1 minute, again stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.


After we had our jam made (and enjoyed our share with scones and muffins I prepared, we processed the remaining jam to preserve. To help with this, Ball generously provided me with Ball Canning Discovery Kits for me and my friends to use. These kits provide an easy and afforable way to start canning  in just three simple steps! It was perfectly designed for people like me... to demystify the home canning process and make fresh preserving accessible who are completely new the process. It really made canning so much easier too! The kit included a basket to place my filled jars and the basket works for stockpots that are at least 7 1/2 inches tall and 9 1/2 inches in diameter. This made inserting and removing hot sterilized jars easy. And speaking of jars, the kit comes with 3 pint size jars ready to use! So with the kit in hand, me and my friends were ready to start processing our jams...

Processing jams to preserve

Prepare boiling water in a canner or large stockpot. Wash the jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Heat the jars in simmering water until ready for use. Set the lids and bands aside.

Carefully ladle the prepared jam into the clean, sterilized hot jars, being sure to leave 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean and center the lids on the jars. Apply the bands and adjust to fingertip tight.

Place the filled jars in the stockpot, making sure the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Cover the stockpot with the lid and bring the water to a gentle and steady boil.

Process the jars for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the jars stand in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the stockpot and cool at room temperature. Check the lids for seal after 24 hours. The lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.

Sadly I don't have many pictures from our jam session to share since we had some much fun, my camera didn't have a chance to come out during the party! But if you have intentions to can or even make jam, there is still time to take advantage of the summer's bounty and even the fall ingredients to come {applesauce?!}. Check out Ball's website as a great resource to canning and preserving. Thank you to my friends at Ball for providing me with all the great tools I needed to accomplish my canning and jam making goals. My friends and I are grateful and I can't wait to can and preserve with ease!