Canning and jam-making resources

Making red currant jam
Making red currant jam

This summer we had a great crop of red currants, so I made some jam with a new recipe. I found the recipe online and love the gorgeous photos that accompany it, but the canning method with the recipe…not so much. I froze the jam in small canning jars, so I’m not worried about the safety of our batch. But please, if you can your jams, don’t turn your jars upside down to seal them.

The USDA currently only recommends two canning methods: water bath (where you submerge your jars in a big pot of boiling water, talk about kitchen thrills!) or pressure canning (this is for low-acid foods).  In years past, I’ve made jam, tomato sauce, and salsa, all using tested recipes so I knew they were safe, all of which can be canned with a water bath. Steam canning and oven canning are definitely around if you look on the internet, but the USDA doesn’t recommend them. Science Friday just aired a segment on canning today, and I recommend you take a listen.

In the past, we’ve had great results making jam with Sure Jell, which has been the go-to pectin for jam-making for decades. You can use it for either freezer jam or canned jam. Red currants are naturally high in pectin, so even without added pectin in the batch shown above, we got a very soft jam. This year we are trying out Pomona’s Universal Pectin; I goofed a bit  (not Pomona’s fault) on our first try at strawberry jam so I’d like to retry the recipe when I have a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Strawberry season is long over in Wisconsin, so I’ll need to get some organic frozen berries. There are recipes at the Sure Jell and Pomona links indicated above as well as great information at these two websites: Ball Jar’s site on fresh preserving and National Center for Home Food Preservation. I can’t forget to mention the Ball Blue Book, which is a great and inexpensive book all about canning.

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