July 2, 2010

This weekend I will be celebrating the 4th of July in Hume Lake with the bf and his familia, sleeping under the stars and (hopefully) learning how to catch a fish. Last year was the first time I took part in this tradition of theirs and this year I wanted to bring something memorable and homemade to share with everyone. Since we’ll be traveling a long way to get there I didn’t want to bring a cake or something that would be difficult to travel with (picture a car full of luggage, sleeping bags, camping stuff and a dog) so I thought Jam might be a good idea since it’ll be nicely sealed in its individual jars  and I don’t have to worry about it getting ruined, eaten (by the dog or hungry travelers) or spoiled. I’d never made it before, but I thought to myself “How hard could it be?”

Well, I wouldn’t say it was easy, it definitely took some research and preparation to get the job done and it’s not something you want to just wing the first time around. I had a general knowledge of how I was going to pull this off, but in researching a bit more, I quickly found out that I knew nothing about making Jam. And why would I? I don’t harvest fruit or live in the country or even have a spot of dirt to grow fresh fruits or vegetables, so there’s never been a need to preserve what I had.

I learned there are steps that need to be followed very closely, and for me that’s difficult which is why I don’t like baking. I like to go with the flow and cook with whatever inspires me and what I happen to have lying around. Give me a step by step process and you lose me somewhere in all the details. Nonetheless, I was determined in making my fun little gifts and once it was all said and done, here’s the basics of what I learned:

  1. Be prepared. Have more jars ready than you think you’ll need.
  2. Do your research on proper Jammin. I found this site and this video really helpful.
  3. Buy a canning kit. I thought I could get by without one but I’m so glad I spent the few extra dollars on the equipment so I wouldn’t burn myself in the process. It turned out to be extremely essential.
  4. There are a lot of recipes out there for making Jam, but there are 4 key ingredients:  Fruit, pectin (sometimes found in the fruit itself), sugar, and acid (from lemon/lime or the actual fruit).
  5. Pectin is made from apples and comes in different forms (powder, liquid, etc.). It’s used to help set the Jam but some recipes substitute it with apple juice (not from concentrate) or even a gelatin. I found that store-bought pectin is the fool-proof method for setting your Jam. If not used, you might end up with different consistencies; which is fine depending on personal preference.

Since I couldn’t find a box of Pectin at my local grocers, I opted for apple juice and followed this basic recipe for a Rhubarb Berry Jam and used blackberries instead for a tangier fruit flavor.

I was nervous that my Jam would either 1. Burn or 2. Not set. But I didn’t burn it (thank goodness) and it set just beautifully! With those fears aside, I can finally say…

I Made Jam!

Just saying that brings a sense of accomplishment one can only fully appreciate after you’ve lined up your beautiful jars of homemade jam, perfectly preserved and so glamorously dressed; ready to be stored or given away.

Heres my Rhubarb Blackberry Jam in all its glory! I even found this cute red gingham fabric to cover them with and added a blue ribbon to dress it up. I love how stylish and oh- so- Americana they turned out.

This experience has only made me want to make more of my own jam, preserves and jellies. I’d also like to start pickling my own Jalapeños and perhaps my moms salsa. If I can get that stuff to last all year it would be well worth the effort.

So does this mean im a Jammin expert? I don’t I’ve earned that title yet… but I still want the cute T-Shirt!

PUMP UP THE JAM t-shirt – For all jammers! $22 at Pushcart Design.

Happy Independence Day Everyone!


One Response to “Jammin’”

  1. Stephy Says:

    I can say first hand that this jam was da bomb. It was sooo good and those little jars were envied by everybody! I would love to decorate the kitchen with them they are so cute!

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