Blissful Jellies and Jams

Hi everyone!

Take a look at the photo below and see if you can guess what I did this past weekend.

If you guessed, “made jam or jelly”, you would be 100% correct. In addition to making jelly, hubby and I did do a little work around the house this past weekend. Hubby’s recovering from having something removed (cut and cauterized) from the top of his foot, so needless to say, wearing shoes this past weekend was a tad uncomfortable. Everything is healing up well.

Jams and jellies, oh yes… on Saturday, while hubby was at home with his foot propped up, I was at the Cowboy Trails Farm attending another canning workshop and had a fantastic time.  This was Workshop #3: “The Sweet Gift of Jams and Jellies”.

Workshop participants were given an opportunity to work at one of three cooking stations… Station 1: Orange Marmalade, Station 2: Strawberry Jam, and Station 3: Grape Jelly.  I chose to make Grape Jelly with two other participants (it was a joint effort).  The photo above is just one of many 4 oz jars we made during the workshop.

After the workshop, we were able to select two jars to take home.  I picked the grape jelly, of course, and the strawberry jam (on the right below).

For the grape jelly, the organizers of the workshop prepared the grapes the evening before by steam juicing them (which I understand takes some time to do).  At the grape jelly station, we were presented with the result of the steam juicing… a very clear grape liquid.  We proceeded to make our jelly (following provided instructions, of course) by pouring our sweet grape elixir into a large pot along with the appropriate amount of pectin, sugar and smidgen of butter.  Did you know that this tiny bit of butter helps to keep the foam down?  Cool.

After just a few easy cooking steps, we carefully poured our hot jelly mixture into several sterilized 4 oz jars (and a few 8 oz jars) and affixed sterilized lids and a ring to each jar.  Then, it was off to the water bath with our filled and sealed jars to complete the canning process. So simple. 

The jelly and jams need a couple of days to thicken, so I’m waiting to take a taste.  In the workshop, we used regular pectin and an insane amount of sugar, so I’m expecting it to be “super-duper sweet”.  In the future, since I prefer mild sweetness, I will more than likely use a low-or-no sugar recipe.

The whole canning process is just so fascinating to me and feels so “ole timey”.  I do love vintage.  I’ve always considered myself an “old soul” even when I was younger.  I loved going into old antique shops with my mom and loved to explore all the old trinkets and goodies folks had on display when “us kids” would sell things with mom at the swapmeet for extra cash.  Back then (early 70’s – oops, dating myself), the swapmeet had very few if any “commercial” vendors – unlike today’s swapmeets.  It was mostly folks like us selling things for a little extra pocket change.  For some, it was their livelihood.  I have very fond memories of selling at the swapmeet and especially when my older brother and I would take a break to go off and explore the old treasures together 🙂 Fun memories.

Okay, now that I’m back from my “blast to the past”… Whether you grow your own fruits and veggies or purchase from a local grocery store or farmers market, canning is one of the great ways to preserve your produce for the future.  As I continue to forge ahead in planning my veggie garden and care for my orchard, my interest in preserving foods only grows stronger with each passing day.  Hubby and I will be setting up a couple of temporary veggie beds soon just outside the back door so we can get started growing.

In addition to preserving foods, I’m becoming more and more aware of the importance of food storage for lean times, emergencies, to side step price hikes at the store, etc.  What better way to build up your pantry than to “can” yummy fresh fruits and veggies.

I’ll be attending the next canning workshop (sometime in October) where we will be making homemade pie fillings and from what I understand, we’ll be baking a few pies 🙂 I’m not a huge fan of the sweet stuff, but hubby loves it.

Many Blessings,

The Artistic Desert Gardener

“Gardening changes lives one tiny seed at a time”

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2 Comments

Filed under Preserving the Harvest

2 responses to “Blissful Jellies and Jams

  1. Lois Zablockis

    On a scale from 1 to 10 which jam is the easiest to make and which is the most difficult?

    • Hi Lois,

      Grape jelly was the easiest/quickest – juice needed to be extracted (a steam juicer was used); The strawberry jam was just a step above that – the strawberries needed to be prepared prior to cooking (the tops needed to be removed); the orange marmalade was the most time consuming – the oranges needed to be cut up including the rinds and the cook times were a lot longer.

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