Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Canning Cookbook- One of many canning experiments

One of the best parts of spring in Iowa is the abundance of fresh rhubarb. Seems like every yard has it. Seems like no one likes it. Except me !! I love it !! I am lucky enough to have lots of friends who don't pick theirs, so they let me. 

I have loads of rhubarb recipes (hope YOU like it too !!) but one of my very favorites is one of my older recipes that I've been making for a long long time and combines two of my favorite fruits- rhubarb, of course, and blueberries. Sooooo love blueberries. I wish I could grow them, but I would need a forest of blueberry bushes to keep me happy.

Canning your own food used to be a "lost food art". No one did it anymore except people who were stockpiling for the end of civilization. Oh sure, a lot of people remembered their grandmother or mother canning, but not a lot of modern women were still doing it. Maybe because so many of us worked full time jobs, or were busy hauling kids around to various activities. Having a deeply rooted interest in food and cooking got me interested in canning. Today canning is making a huge comeback- spurred on by people being more aware of what's IN your food, GMOs, how things are processed, factory cleanliness, protecting our heirloom plants. But for me, it was a step back in time, and away from the modern world of processed foods, convenience eating and rush rush rush.

When I was first learning about canning, I started with tomatoes. Everyone should start with tomatoes, I think, and once you are comfortable with tomatoes, jams are a great next step, with some of the easiest recipes, with very little failure. There isn't much complicated about making a really good jam, especially if you use pectin. If you can read directions, you got this! 

Over the course of a season and many batches of jam later, I will most certainly end up with leftover bits of this and that. A cup of cherries, a freezer bag full of peaches. Something I used in a recipe and just had too much of. I love making combinations with these odds and ends, and some of my best jams have come from a few bags of scraps and leftovers, like this one- when blueberries go on sale I go all out. I buy LOADS. They are easy to wash, spread out on a sheet pan and freeze, then bag up. Throw a handful in pancake batter, cake mix- whatever you want. So when I had a little bit of rhubarb, and a little bag of blueberries....... the brain got going........

Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 cups blueberries, coarsely chopped
1 TB lemon juice
1 box powdered pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar

Prepare jars for canning.

In a large stockpot combine rhubarb and water, bring to boil. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add blueberries, lemon juice and pectin, stir to mix well. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat while stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once, return to boil stirring constantly. Boil hard for exactly one minute. Remove from heat.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, fix lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes (start time after water returns to full boil). Remove from water, and allow to cool away from drafts and enjoy the ping ping ping.

Wasn't that EASY ?? Let me just say before you go rushing off coming up with combinations- there is a SCIENCE to canning, and the matter of safety. In general, when you're making a 50/50 combo like this one, the best way to ensure a good and safe product is to consult the instructions that come with the pectin. Find both fruits, halve the ingredients and use those measurements. Yes, it can be a little fussy but you want a jam that gels well and the pH isn't all wacky (pretty rare but it can happen). Once you are more familiar with canning, or if you're already at the top of your game- THEN experiment, and most importantly- HAVE FUN!

1 comment:

  1. Pectin in jam has a great effect on its thickness. There are numerous health benefits to it as well.