Summer is here and nature’s produce is at its finest. What’s not to love about the succulent berries, sweet corn, and flavorful tomatoes of this season? Whether you grow your own, or hit your local farmers market, why not try your hand at canning some some of that goodness so that you can enjoy it all year long.
Never canned before? Start off simply by canning jam or preserves. Here’s a good recipe to try:
Makes roughly four half-pint jars
35 oz. strawberries washed, hulled and cubed
35 oz. granulated white sugar
1 lemon, sliced
1 packet pectin
1 Tbsp butter (to reduce foaming)
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large, nonreactive pot; enamel or stainless steel are best. Let stand for at least 20 minutes, up to two hours.
Stir the contents of the pot well, and put over medium-high heat. Add the lemons, pectin and butter. Stir frequently, taking care not to burn the sugar. Bring to a boil and maintain a rolling boil. Skim away any foam that forms; if there is too much foam, add a little more butter.
Once a boil has been reached, take the temperature with a quick-read thermometer. Continue boiling and stirring until the mixture consistently reads 220ºF. Turn off the heat. Remove the lemon slices. If canning, process immediately (see On Canning, below). Otherwise, allow to cool, then pack in jars and refrigerate, or freezer-safe containers or bags if freezing.
For an extra berry punch, replace some of the strawberries with an equal amount of Driscoll’s® organic raspberries, blueberries or blackberries.
Or, once the jam reaches the target temperature, try giving yours a twist by adding one of the following:
1 Tbsp real balsamic and a few fresh cracks of black pepper
2 Tbsp Campari
A handful of mint or basil, finely chopped
Seeds from a vanilla bean
Whatever you like
As a rule, fruit preserves can be canned using the water-bath method. Water-bath canning is not difficult, but it does require attention to detail. You’ll need some specific equipment (see Equipment, below), and you need to make sure your jars, lids and utensils are well sterilized.
The USDA publishes a very thorough guide to home canning, with excellent instructions on how to can safely. We recommend reviewing this carefully before canning. You can view the guide here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
Before you start cooking up your berries, make sure you have the following items:
A large pot *
A rack that fits in the bottom of the pot *
A pair of canning tongs *
A magnetic lid wand *
A jar funnel *
A ladle *
A quick-read thermometer
A kitchen scale
Cooling racks to set the hot jars on
Plenty of kitchen towels
Plenty of jars, rings and unused lids
Patience, and a sense of humor
Most of these items, as well as a variety of jars, lids and rings, are readily available in most hardware stores, as well as some grocery stores.
* You can often find kits that have all these elements together, rather than purchasing them separately.
Recipe courtesy of Driscoll’s.