More Online Jam: How-to-can videos

21 10 2009
Caning Apple Pie Filling
Image by upturnedface via Flickr

‘Net searches turn up the most amazing things.

Yesterday, searching for a more refined method for drying my overabundant herb harvest, I wandered into CanningUSA — a site which offers recipes, how-to videos and podcasts, and lots of very specific canning information. No longer do novice canners need to plow through tables of canning instructions; if you learn better by watching, then the videos of various canning and preserving processes are made just for you!

Need some visuals that explain how to make and can Jam and Infused Fruit?

Need an explanation of the differences between raw, hot and cold pack canning methods?

Hoping to put up some of the apples or pears filling your local farmer’s market?

If you’re looking for a visual guide to canning and preserving, as well as some interesting new improvisations on familiar preserving recipes, you might want to drop into the CanningUSA site, and investigate their online help section.

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Bloggers Jam: When I can’t be in the kitchen…

23 09 2009

I make jams, pickles and salsas all year ’round, but I admit that when the first berries come to the farmer’s market in early June until the autumn’s killing frost is my pantry-making busy season. My fresh herbs are protected, so I’ll save drying them for last. It’s almost time to cut the herbs to dry, but before that will be pears, plums and apples to can, more zucchine to pickle, peppers to roast and can.

Unfortunately, high harvest is also my last chance to get in some camping weekends. When I can’t be in the kitchen playing with my own recipes, I’m sifting through everyone else’s summer of putting food by, marking which recipes I want to try.

My first posts on this blog were about the cookbooks on my canning bookshelf and my favorite online preserving resources. Some of my other favorite preserving and jamming resources are in the sidebar — linked in my blogroll.

Canning Across America: Canvolution (CAA) describes itself as “an ad-hoc collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of “putting by” food.” I first discovered the Canvolution on Twitter, where several food bloggers including @SeattleTallPopp were talking about a Can-a-Rama. Before I knew it I was sharing recipes, and planning my own personal can-a-rama on the weekend of August 28 (in between making state fair entries!) The CAA site has recipes contributed by participating chefs and food lovers, an extensive list of sources and how-to’s on its resources page,  and keeps a calendar of upcoming events focused on canning, jamming and preserving.

A Crafty Lass, written by Erin McCleary, isn’t all about jam — but her Minnesota State Fair blue-ribbon jam recipes are all on my must-try list (especially one of her most recent: Peach Ginger Conserve.) Erin’s beautiful photos draw me into each recipe.

Charmian Christie writes Christie’s Corner, another blog that cooks more than jam and preserves. However, those recipes come with a sense of humor that always makes me smile (Real food. Real life. It ain’t always pretty. — what a tagline!) I found her first when her recipe for Butterscotch Peach Jam was suggested in my reader, and I was hooked. Christie is about to move her blog to WordPress (Oct. 1) and when that happens, I’ll be updating my blogroll link.

Cake and Commerce author Linsey includes many preserving recipes, including Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Jam (I’ll be trying that one as soon as I’m back from my fall camping trips!) You’ll also find recipes at C&C for pickles and fermented foods, and other whole and organic, locally-produced food ideas.

These are just a selection of the food writers, resources and recipes which keep me intrigued and inspired. I hope you’ll check them out while I’m busy checking out some nature in my outdoor kitchen!

What is the most inspired canning or preserving recipe you’ve stumbled upon in the past few months? Please share!

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All-Access Jam: The Ball Blue Book

12 08 2009
20 jars of jam!
Image by chrisfreeland2002 via Flickr

Chances are the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is the first canning and preserving reference you think about when you think about jam-making. That’s no surprise – Ball Corp. began publishing their preserving reference in 1909, and the 2009 Ball Blue Book is the proud 100th edition of this handy preserving reference. It’s inexpensive – full price is under $10, and many places reduce the price during canning season. And it’s only as far away as your nearest supermarket’s display of canning supplies.

The big blue book is actually only around 125 pages; earlier editions were even smaller. But it’s more than a collection of recipes. Every edition (I own three) is packed with the most up-to-date recommendations for canning, pickling, preserving, and jamming. Editions since the 90s have included USDA recommendations for water-bath canning of jams; earlier editions described other sealing methods such as inversion of jars and covering preserves with paraffin.

The Blue Book describes everything from the materials you’ll need to the processes involved in jamming, canning, preserving and freezing. It includes conversion charts to help you purchase enough raw fruit and vegetables to make your canned goods, and illustrations of things like ‘head space’ (the amount of air you need to leave in a jar between the top level of food and the bottom level of the jar lid.) This year’s commemorative 100th anniversary edition includes more recipes and suggestions for your canned and preserved bounty that take jam beyond a spread for toast.

When you’re ready to take your jam-making beyond the recipes included in the box of pectin, or if you’d like a broader canning and preserving reference that’s fun to read and easy to own, it’s time to add an edition of the Ball Blue Book to your kitchen bookshelf.

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