VeganMoFo Day 10: I Be Jammin'...And You Can Too!
Two years ago, I experimented around with making my first pickles. I was getting a ton of pickling cucumbers in my CSA and it just seemed like a good idea to try it. I found a great bread & butter pickle recipe that has been a hit with family and friends (of course I share since I can only eat so many pickles over the year!). So score one for the pickles and I've been making them each August since. I felt fairly confident with them and even invested in some specific canning tongs and a pack of jars just for the purpose. Now, I was ready to try something I had been wanting to try for a long time: homemade jam! When we do our annual visit to Germany in the late spring/early summer, I try to time it so that we're visiting the inlaws during erdbeer (strawberry) season. This is because a.) I love strawberries, b.) I love my inlaws (it is possible if you're lucky!) and c.) mother-in-law + strawberries equals amazing homemade strawberry jam!
My mother-in-law is a great cook and she's the most efficient human being I've ever met. She can literally whip up strawberry jam in 10 minutes. Unbelievable. She takes a couple of quarts of strawberries and destems them, whips them up in the blender, adds something I haven't seen here but could exist, a premade mix of pectin and sugar (I just buy the pectin and sugar seperately..those uber-efficient Germans!). She boils it for 3-4 minutes on the stove and then pours it into little jam jars that she recycles year to year. Best tasting jam ever. She also does plum and other fruits. She makes it looks so easy..but was it really?
I was a little bit concerned about making here myself not knowing much about it and worrying that doing something wrong could lead to botulism. I was thinking about buying a book until I found the coolest thing I've found online in a long time: a FREE (yes, really!) canning web-based homestudy course through the University of Georgia. The University is home to the Center for Home Food Preservation (who woulda thought??). The site itself is full of great information on canning and other modes of food preservation. I'm still working through the WebCT course but have already found it to be pretty informative. So if you've ever been interested in making your own jam or pickles, check out this free course. Disclaimer that there are some yucky meat preservation parts but you can skip those. The signup isn't instantaneous--you register and they'll contact you in a few days with your new login information. The course registration is a little hidden in the web site so here's the direct link: https://www.uga.edu/nchfp/exception_account.html
So far we've made blueberry lemon, strawberry and plum jam. And of course, tons of pickles. So what are we all waiting for, let's get jammin'!