Monday, February 22, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello....This is a little bit of a different recipe today. It's an instruction on how to make sour cherry jam.... We are stuck in the doldrums of February, and the groundhog gave us no hope, so we need something to look forward to - something to remind us that summer is coming, it's really coming....

When warm weather finally arrives and fruits and berries are in season, visit your local farmers' market and pick up a supply. In addition to enjoying these luscious treats now, you can also preserve them to eat during the long, cold winter.

Freezing is an option if you have room for a freezer, but a terrific alternative is canning, which isn't as challenging as you may have heard.

For most fruits and berries, a water bath canner is the only special equipment you will need, since they are adequately acidic. If you want to add vegetable canning to your skill set, you will need a pressure canner or freezer, since most vegetables do not contain enough acid to use a water bath canner.

Cherries normally come into season around July 1.

Sour Cherry Jam:

Things You'll Need:

Water canner, available at most hardware stores and discount stores like Wal Mart for $20-30.00.
powdered pectin such as Sure-Jel, available at discount or grocery stores
Jars, rings, lids, available at most hardware stores and discount stores.

Read the directions on your box of powdered pectin (I use Sure-Jel for low or no sugar jam/jelly)very carefully. You will learn that it takes 5 cups of pitted, chopped cherries to make about 6 pints of jam. You should make one batch at a time.

Wash your jars in a dishwasher earlier and leave them in there to stay warm until you need them. Get your water canner on the stove first, and turn it on high. The canner will be 1/2 to 2/3 full of water, which will take quite a while to boil. If you start with hot water, that will cut some time. Put the lid on it to speed up the process.Follow the pectin directions on how to prepare your lids and rings, and do this before you start cooking your fruit.

Cook the cherries while the water is heating in your canner.

Cook the fruit, adding the pectin and sugar exactly as directed. Following the recipe is very important when canning. When the fruit is ready, spoon it into the jars quickly. Run a knife around the jar to remove air bubbles. Make sure the top of the jar is clean with no spilled fruit before you place the lid and screw on the ring.

Load the canner rack with the 6 jars and lower it into the water. Replace the lid and watch it carefully for when it begins boiling again. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the rack using tongs, and place them on the counter. Listen for the pops of the jar lids as they seal.

When all the jars have sealed and cooled, label the lids with a Sharpie pen, be sure and add the year, as canned produce will last for several years. Store them in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry. Refrigerate after opening.

This is a great way to enjoy fruit and berries all year long, while cutting down on your food budget. Your very small investment will pay off in many ways, and your local farmers and community will benefit as well. What's more, you will help the environment by not purchasing foods grown hundreds of miles away, canned in a factory and trucked to your town. And there's something really satisfying about preserving food.

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