Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jam: Mixed Berry

First up, the disclaimer: I am not a professional food safety expert. I am not an authoritative person on Government-approved safety standards for food safety. By following this recipe, you assume all risk and responsibility.

Ok, that out of the way, on to the jam making... 

Making jam is pretty simple. I typically make a couple dozen half-pints of jam per year. It's mostly all the same procedure, as outlined in the de-facto standard, Ball Blue Book. Crushed fruit, sugar, maybe some acid and pectin, heated up, put in jars and processed. You can use most any fruit. I find that I use about 4 cups of crushed/chopped fruit to 3 cups of sugar. Also, I use the jars of powdered, low-sugar pectin. It allows the flavor of the fruit to come through much better when you use less sugar. Anyway, on to the recipe...

Makes 7 half-pints.


4 c. Strawberries 
2 c. Sweet cherries
1 c. Blackberries
1 c. Blueberries
Lemon juice
4 tb. Ball RealFruit Low or No-Sugar powdered pectin
3 c. Granulated sugar

Fill your canner kettle (or other large pot) with hot water and bring that to boil, covered. When the jam is done, this water should be at a rolling boil. I also typically fill the tea kettle with cold water and bring that to a boil as well. 

I typically can in wide-mouthed pint jars. In this case, I had some oddball 24-ounce regular-lid jars. I had 3 of those, a pint jar, and a half-pint jar ready, with lids and rings. Always have more jars, of different sizes ready and waiting. The jars and rings should be cleaned, but don't need to be boiled. The lids should always be new.

Remove the stems of the strawberries. Put them in a 4-cup container and crush them with a potato masher. Note: You can crush them in anything, but you will need to measure 4-5 cups of crushed fruit. They should crush down to about 2 cups of slurry. A little more or a little less doesn't matter. Stem and pit the cherries. Chop or crush them into the strawberry mash. Add blueberries and blackberries and crush them as well. I ended up with about 5.5 cups of crushed fruit slurry.  

Transfer the mash to a large pot. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of pectin. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often, but not continuously. Once bubbling, add the sugar, one cup at a time, stirring it in thoroughly. Turn the burner to high and stir frequently to prevent sticking. Once the mix is boiling so hard that you can't stir it down, start a 1-minute timer. You WILL get splattered with boiling sugar/fruit mix. At the end of the minute, remove the pan from the heat. 

Using a wide funnel or a steady hand, transfer the jam to your prepared jars. Leave 1/4" of head space. Wipe any jam from the top of the jar witb a damp paper towel. Place the lid and ring on the jar and screw it down finger tight. You want it closed but not wrenched down. Oh, and you will find the now-hot jars difficult to hold. If you have a canning rack, place the jars in it. If not, you should put an old, clean kitchen towel or hand cloth in the bottom of your canner. Place the canner rack into the boiling water. If using a towel, place the jars in one at a time. Process pints and half-pints for 10 minutes. I did my 24-oz. jars for 13 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and place them on a heat-proof surface away from drafts where they will be undisturbed for 12-24 hours. When fully cooled, be sure to label the jars with their contents and the date. If any jars don't seal, place them in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

5 Hours Or Less: Santa's Village - Jefferson, NH

Reviving the "5 Hours Or Less" tag, we took a quick weekend trip up to New Hampshire. We stayed at The Lantern Resort (formerly, The Lantern Inn and Campground) which is situated in Jefferson, NH, right across the street from Santa's Village. This is always a fun trip, no matter the age. The one hazard is that you will feel compelled to listen to Christmas music when you get back, even if it's July.

Here are a handful of clips from some of the rides.

Log Flume

Ho Ho H2O Bucket Dump

Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gardening: Drying oregano

I demonstrate how I sun-dry my Southern New England grown oregano. The process takes 3-5 days from cutting to finished product. This should be all the oregano I need for the next year. There are many other ways, but you can't argue with simpicity plus success.