Thursday, July 22, 2010

Canning Is a Calling

This post is linked to Frugal Friday where you can learn lots of frugal tips!

A warning for firstimers: do not attempt to can blueberries alone. It is a messy job filled with lots of dirty dishes, pots and pans. And do not use white dish towels, even if they are the only ones you have. Because they will get stained. Trust me, I learned the hard way. To my friends who can on a regular basis, I tip my hat to you. Canning is no joke. It's super hard work.

We were blessed with these beautiful blueberries from Beulah Berries. It's hard to go back to store bought. You'll need about 4 cups or 3 pints, box of SureJell Pectin ($2.88 for a 2 pack), clean pint sized canning jars. Wash in hot soapy water if new. Sterilize by boiling in hot water for a few minutes, after they're washed with soap, if reusing old cans. Make sure to dry them with a super clean towel, including the lids. Also get a stockpot with a lid that can fit about 4 jars at a time. Fill it with water so that the top of the jars are covered about 1-2 inches in water. Start heating the water so it's already boiling by the time you finish cooking the blueberries.

Measure out 4 cups sugar in a bowl. Set the blueberries in their own bow. Then have a bowl for the blueberries chopped in the food processor. See what I mean about too many dishes? It was helpful to use the food processor. I pulsed a cup of berries at a time, just enough to get a rough chop.

This is what the clumpy mess of berries will look like. Cook them in a 5-6 quart pot on medium high and add the pectin. Add the sugar one cup at a time, stirring the mix to let the sugar dissolve. Let it come to a rolling boil and cook for one minute. Turn off the heat and take the pot off the heat.

Quickly transfer the cooked blueberries into the pint jars to about an inch from the top. Wipe off the rim of the jar and where ever else it drips. It pays to use a wide mouth funnel (costs less than $2) so you don't have a mess.

Tongs would have been great, or a steaming rack, for the next part. The water in the pot should already be boiling. Remove the pot from the heat so the water stops boiling and you can put the jars into the pot. Boil for 10 minutes. After boiling, take them out of the hot water (use oven mitts). At this point, I put the dishtowels in the pot of boiling water. It takes the blueberry stains out easier this way, even without soap.

Blueberry jam, so sweet and yummy. Partner with homemade peanut butter for a nice treat. I'll have to post a recipe for that next time. It's way easier than canning!

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