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The weekend before the wedding, the boy and I embarked on a jam making adventure. The morning of, we went to Barrie Hill Farms and picked up a whole lot of freshly-picked strawberries (they were more expensive than the ones in the supermarket but we really wanted to use local produce… plus, they were so much juicier and sweeter!). Then, we picked up some canning essentials (trust me, jar tongs and a funnel will make it so much easier – and a strawberry huller if you’re making strawberry jam) and ingredients (pectin, sugar and lemons).

Truth be told, we had little clue what we were getting ourselves into… we just kind of threw ourselves off the deep end (trial and error style) and hoped real hard that it would work out. We hulled the strawberries in batches and then followed these instructions for canning (so detailed!) and the recipe in our pectin box (most boxes will come with instructions).

The results? It took a lot longer than we expected and we sure did learn lessons the hard way – we pretty much botched our whole first batch (the jam was so runny it was like sauce – sometimes you just CANNOT skimp on sugar). But with a little tweaking, the next few batches worked out great- the jam was setting nicely and boy, was it tasty! All in all, I kind of enjoyed the canning experience (ok, maybe not the five-hours-in-and-still-working-on-the-fourth-batch part) and I’d totally do it again, now that I’ve got a little practice in (I’ll let the boy speak for himself in this regard, hee).

A couple of tiny tips: while you’re testing for consistency, you can also taste the batch on a little corner of toast  (we tasted our jam straight up and it was so sweet I wanted to start adjusting sugar levels again… thankfully the boy tried the toast test!). Also, the jars really do take a while to seal… we were devastated when so many of our lids weren’t popping 2 hours in but then we left them in a corner and were hearing tiny ‘popping’ sounds throughout the night! And last, this is just a reminder for forgetful people like me, the processed jars are hot, very hot, like just-been-boiling-in-a-pot-of-water hot, so don’t move them with your bare hands (yeah, I totally did that).

After checking each jar for a proper seal, we outfitted the jars with assorted fabric (which A. awesomely cut), a label (which we made and printed) and some baker’s twine. Then, arranged them in pretty baskets for the taking at the wedding (p/s don’t you love the pretty sign? Y. drew that in on my DIY spray-painted chalkboard!). We loved the way they turned out!

{Photo Credit: 4: Jen Tracy| 5: Visual Roots Photography}

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