I have a little book that I bought when I first moved here 1976-1977. This book is put out by the Ball canning company The cover is now gone and many of the pages are splattered with bits of this and that. In that little book are packed more useful information than many of the books written on canning. It has simple instructions on prep, care, safety and some of the best jam, jelly preserve recipes I have used.
I have early memories of picking fruit with my grandmother, brothers and sisters. After we were done, she would take the fruit and turn it into the best jams, jellies and preserves. I remember how hot it was in the kitchen and how much I wanted to be in there with her. The kitchen was small and hot and I am sure now she wanted to keep me safe from the boiling water. It would be years before I would take it on my own to step into her role and make the jams, jellies and preserves of my youth. I always use the fruits that are local, in season and as fresh as possible.
The prep part is the major part of the work.
One you have done the prep the making is the easy part.
July is my favorite time to pick up peaches.
2 quarts of peeled, crushed peaches
1 Tbs. lemon juice
6 cups of sugar
Combine peaches and sugar, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally
until sugar dissolves. Cook until thick; the recipe says 15 minutes, but I cook longer and slower, until it turns a golden color and is more jam like. Be sure and skim off the foam as you go along. Before you pack in jars make sure you have taken all the foam off. Once it is the thickness that you want, pack in clean, hot jars and water bath for 10-15 minutes.
Remove, let them sit for 24 hours before you store them.
The last two days I have been working on Blackberry Jelly.
I extract the juice by heating the berries, straining them and then letting the juice stand overnight. I find that the juice will settle leaving you a nice clear juice at the top. I use that juice for the jelly.
Here is the recipe.
4 cups of Blackberry juice
I Tbs. lemon juice
3 cups of sugar
Heat juice, lemon and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil.
As it is boiling, skim off the foam.
I boil this until it hits the jelly stage. It takes at least 30 minutes.
I can't give you exact time as I am always checking the jelly stage by placing a bit in the freezer and looking at how it shifts off the stirring spoon. I pack this in hot jars and process for 10 minutes.
Here is what I found out the other day. I was out of lemon so I did not add it. I had more foam and a sticky mess on the sides of the pan. I remembered that you could add a Tbs. of butter to help with the foam. I tried that but it was still doing the same thing. On the second round I added the butter and 1 Tbs. of white vinegar. The acid of the vinegar worked to bring the foam down to a doable amount.
Also, I do not use the box pectin. You can if you like, it will save you some time and there are times that I have used it, but your results will be different.