Larry Crowe / Associated Press file

Making small batches of “something really special,” such as jam for gifts, is driving the growth in modern canning.

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  • Peach jam with lemon basil Makes 8 to 10 half-pints Lemon basil, if you can find it, adds an herbal note that plays well off the sweet tartness of peaches. Regular basil, lemon thyme or lemongrass can be substituted. Make ahead: The fruit macerates for between 8 and 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Adapted by Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan from recipes in “The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook” by Rachel Saunders (Andrews McMeel, ). INGREDIENTS 6 1/2 pounds large ripe yellow freestone peaches 3 pounds sugar 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 4 large branches (12 sprigs) lemon basil INSTRUCTIONS

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to a high simmer, and drop the peaches into the water for a minute or two. Drain and let them cool, then carefully slip the peels off with your hands or, if the peaches aren’t quite ripe, with a paring knife. Halve and pit the peaches and cut them into 1/2-inch slices.

    Put the slices into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment, pushing it directly onto the surface of the peaches, and macerate for at least 8 hours or as long as 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

    When you’re ready to make the jam, put five metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Wash jars, rings, and lids by in hot soapy water and rinse them. Fill a water-bath canner or large stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the jars until covered by at least 1 inch of water (adding more water if needed), and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the jars hot until you fill them. (You can also sterilize jars in the dishwasher; just keep hot until using.) In a separate small saucepan, cover the lids with water and bring just to a simmer, but do not boil.

    Transfer the peaches to a large, wide pot set over high heat. Stir well to incorporate any undissolved sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and skim off all the foam.

    Return the mixture to medium-high heat and cook until thickened, stirring with a heat-proof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking or scorching, 25 to 40 minutes. (Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, also to prevent scorching.) Test for doneness by turning off the heat and placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer. Return to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. While you’re testing the consistency and the jam is off the heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the jam is as thick as you’d like, add the lemon basil sprigs or branches, pushing them under the surface of the jam.

    Allow the lemon basil to steep for about 5 minutes, then taste the jam to make sure enough of the herbal flavor has come through, leaving it for longer if desired. Remove the lemon basil with tongs, shaking off excess jam, and discard.

    Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head room. Run a chopstick around the inside edge of the jars to break up any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel, and add the lids and screw on the rings until they are just barely tightened. Process by returning the jars to the canner or pot, making sure they are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and process for 10 minutes (from the time the water comes to a boil). Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. They will seal as they cool; you may hear the satisfying pings as they do. Test seals after 24 hours by removing bands and lifting the jars by the lids to make sure the lids don’t come off; transfer any jars that didn’t seal to the refrigerator, where they can be stored for up to 3 months. The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

    NOTE: Times given are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet. Consult a site such as freshpreserving.com for high-altitude directions.

    Per tablespoon (based on 10 half-pints): 40 calories, 0 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
  • Pear walnut jam Makes about 12 half-pints Besides being spread on toast, this condiment belongs on a cheese or pickle plate. Make ahead: The fruit macerates for between 8 and 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature. From Washington Post food editor Joe Yonan, based loosely on recipes in “Mes Confitures” by Christine Ferber (Michigan State University Press, 2002). INGREDIENTS 1 pound green apples (4 small apples), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 7 pounds ripe but still firm Bartlett, Anjou or Seckel pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 7 1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3 to 4 large lemons) 2 vanilla beans, split 8 ounces walnut halves or pieces 2 tablespoons unsalted butter INSTRUCTIONS

    In a large stainless steel bowl, combine the apples, pears, sugar and lemon juice. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla beans into the bowl and toss in the pods. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic or a circle of parchment paper, pressed directly onto the surface of the fruit, and let it sit for at least 8 hours and as long as 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

    Meanwhile, toast the walnut halves: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scatter the walnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and cook until fragrant and lightly browned. Immediately transfer to a colander or coarse-mesh strainer set over a bowl or the sink, and toss them to release as much of the dust from their roasted skins as possible, to keep from clouding the jam.

    When you’re ready to make the jam, put five metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Wash jars, rings, and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them. Fill a water-bath canner or large stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add the jars until covered by at least 1 inch of water (adding more water if needed), and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the jars hot until you fill them. (You can also sterilize jars in the dishwasher; just keep hot until using.) In a separate small saucepan, cover the lids with water and bring just to a simmer, but do not boil.

    Pour the pear mixture into a large, wide pot over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, stirring with a heat-proof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking or scorching, 25 to 40 minutes. (Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, also to prevent scorching.) Test for doneness by turning off the heat and placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons from your freezer. Return to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. While you’re testing the consistency and the jam is off the heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the jam’s consistency is right, stir in walnuts and butter, return jam to a boil, and cook for another minute or so.

    Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head room. Run a chopstick around the inside edge of the jars to break up any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel, and add the lids and screw on the rings until they are just barely tightened. Process by returning the jars to the canner or pot, making sure they are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and process for 10 minutes (from the time the water comes to a boil). Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. They will seal as they cool; you may hear the satisfying pings as they do. Test seals after 24 hours by removing the rings and lifting the jars by the lids to make sure the lids don’t come off; transfer any jars that didn’t seal to the refrigerator, where they can be stored for up to 3 months. The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

    Note: Times given are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet. Consult a site such as freshpreserving.com for high-altitude directions.

    Per tablespoon: 50 calories, 0 g protein, 10 g carb., 1 g fat, 0 g sat. fat, 0 mg chol., 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
  • Strawberry margarita preserves Makes 6 half-pints Recipe from Ball Brands. INGREDIENTS 6 cups strawberries (about 31/2 pounds), halved and hulled 2 cups chopped cored peeled tart apples (about 2 medium) 1/4 cup lemon juice 4 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup tequila 1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur 2 tablespoons strawberry schnapps, optional Six 8-ounce glass preserving jars with lids and bands INSTRUCTIONS

    Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

    Combine strawberries, apples and lemon juice in a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 25 minutes.

    Remove from heat and test gel. If liquid breaks from spoon in a sheet or flake, it has reached the gel stage. If gel stage has been reached, stir in tequila, orange-flavored liqueur and strawberry schnapps, if using.

    Return to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

    Ladle hot preserves into hot jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot preserves. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

    Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Canning sees new surge in popularity

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am

People are canning like they’ve never canned before.

Just as new generations have embraced growing their own vegetables and fruit, people are discovering the joys — and challenges — of preserving their harvests.

“We’re definitely seeing a surge in popularity (of canning),” said Lauren Devine-Hager, author of the updated “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.” “Sales of Ball Brand jars are up 31 percent over last year. … That shows it’s a really growing trend.

“We’ve seen sales go up with the spread of farmers markets and more people growing vegetables,” she added. “It’s part of back to basics, eating healthy and sustainable living. People are all about doing it themselves these days.”

But there are some huge differences between today’s home canners and generations past, Devine-Hager noted.

“The reasons why we’re preserving food are very different from way back when,” she said. “Your great-grandmother canned because that was the only way her family would have enough food to get through the winter. Now, canning is an expression of the cook’s creativity. These days, few people put up 200 jars of tomatoes or 500 jars of green beans. Instead, we’re seeing a shift to much smaller batches. They’re creating a few jars of something really special.”

That could be pineapple mango chili jam or spicy dilled green beans, Devine-Hager said. “People want to jazz up old favorites. For example, strawberry jam gets spiced up with black pepper, vanilla or lemon.

“People are using social media to share ideas and recipes,” she added. “They’re posting on Pinterest and Facebook. They’re coming up with all sorts of really fun ideas.”

Also attracting attention are Ball’s commemorative blue jars. This summer marked the 100th anniversary of the Ball brother’s “Perfect Mason Jar,” the jar and two-part lid combination that’s still in use today. In honor of that milestone, the company released limited edition “Heritage Collection” pint jars in distinctive blue glass.

For beginning canners, Devine-Hager recommended making jam — and stick to the directions exactly. Jam is simple and straightforward, she added, and can instill the confidence to tackle something more difficult. (Find more recipes and tips at www.FreshPreserving.com.)

One thing remains the same: The most popular home-made preserve is still strawberry jam.

“It’s a classic staple for your home,” Devine-Hager said. “People always love it.”


Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington



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