Thursday, July 3, 2008

Canning Day

Our friend Cheryl, who lives across the street, has the most prolific apricot tree I have ever seen. This tree had literally hundreds of fruits on it...we decided to take an afternoon (and evening, AND the next morning) and can the fruit! It was good fun, easier than we thought, and we got many cans of jams, and preserved fruits. Now if we don't kill anyone with botulism, we'll be up to our elbows in apricots for quite some time! Here is the diary of our day, as well as the recipes we made:

First, we went to the Jardan Corporation Website, which has a really easy guide to safe canning (they make the Ball / Kerr canning jars that we used for our project). We used an enormous enameled pot with a wire rack on the bottom, to boil the jars in. Since we were canning fruit, which has a high acid content, we could use the standard boiling method as opposed to buying a pressure canner. Basically, we ran the jars and bands through the dishwasher to sterilize them, then kept them in very hot, simmering water (enough to cover the jars by at least 1") until we were ready to use them. We put the jar lids in another, smaller pot of water (kept to a simmer, not a full boil, to protect the rubber). We made the recipes, pulled the jars out of the hot water, using a special "jar lifter" that we bought as part of a canning kit from the hardware store, used the special canning funnel (also part of the kit), and a regular soup ladle to fill the jars, leaving no less than 1/4" head space (do not touch the insides of the jars with your fingers to avoid bacteria!), then, carefully, without touching the bottoms or sides with our hands (we used tongs to do this), put the tops on the jars, screwed the bands on (you can touch the bands), then boiled the jars for 5 minutes (this is based upon our altitude, which is practically sea level). The jars were then left to cool on a towel, overnight. You can test the seal of the jars by poking the tops of the lids. If the lids pop up and down, the seal is not perfect, and the fruit should be refridgerated instead of shelved (it will last up to one month). ALWAYS follow the manufacturers instructions for sterilizing and sealing jars, and do it carefully.

Ian, Cheryl, And Celeste, Working On The Jam...

Hot Boiling Jars (Thanks To Nanny For The Gyenormous Pot!)

Me Pulling Jars Out Of The Pot!!


Simple Apricot Jam:
(Makes About 4 Cups)

2.5 pounds (approximately 12-15) apricots
3-4 apricot pits
3 cups of sugar
juice of one lemon

Pit apricots, and cut them into 1/2" pieces. Crack open apricot pits with a hammer, and remove the whitish kernels from the inside (this gives a bit of an almond flavor to the jam), and set aside. Put the apricot chunks and kernels in a heavy bottomed pot, and stir in sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and boil steadily, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. As the liquid thickens, and the fruit becomes soft and translucent, start testing for consistency by putting a spoonful of jam on a chilled plate to cool down quickly. When the jam is the thickness you want, stir in the lemon. Follow manufacturer's guide to safe canning.

Martha Stewart's Peach / Rosemary Jam (We Subbed Apricots for Peaches):
(Makes About 1 Quart)

3 pounds yellow peaches, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 3/4 cups sugar
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary

Halve and pit peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice; toss. Add sugar and rosemary; toss. Cover; let stand, tossing every hour, for 4 hours (sugar should be completely dissolved).
Put peach mixture into a large, wide pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid is syrupy, 12 to 13 minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher, leaving one-quarter of the wedges intact. Skim foam from surface. Discard rosemary sprigs. Follow manufacturer's guide to safe canning.

Preserved Apricots In Simple Syrup:

Make a simple syrup of 4 cups water to 2 cups sugar in a saucepan. You can add a few leaves of mint, lemon balm, bay leaves, rosemary, lemon verbena, etc.) and a squeeze of lemon juice. Simmer syrup for a few minutes, then turn off heat.

Prepare fruit. In this case, we washed and halved the apricots, removing the pits.

Pack fruit into jars - and do pack well. If you don't pack them tight, the fruit will float a little in the jars. You can put a sprig of rosemary, lemon zest, lavender, mint - even a couple of cloves, into the jars - pretty and flavorful!

Fill jars with hot simple syrup, leaving about a half inch of headroom. Screw on the lids and rings. Lower jars into the kettle of hot water. Follow manufacturer's guide to safe canning.

Happy Canning!



Unknown said...

Yum - apricot jam! You're lucky to have access to a great tree.

Anonymous said...

Look at all of us "working"!


Anonymous said...

great photos!! I can almost taste the apricots.

anajz said...

Thanks so much for posting the Simple Apricot Jam recipe. I had never thought of using the pits. Now, if I could only find a suitable donor for the project....

Because of late frosts, our apricot tree has not produced in over three years.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that in the picture where you are pulling out the hot jar with the jar puller that it is being used backwards?

The rubberized side is rounded and shaped for the jar and the other end is a lot easier to handle than the other side. My wife and I and another couple of friends were canning together and they tried to use it that way. I knew it didn't look right so I reversed it, and yep it was backwards!

yvette roman davis said...