Wednesday, July 29, 2009


7 pounds of blackberries
3 pounds of tomatoes
2 pounds of plums

All picked fresh from dear Monica's backyard!

And just a few hours later....

8 pints of jam

1 and 1/2 quarts of tomato sauce

blackberry crumble

With double the blackberries, frozen blueberries, and no raspberries. Double the whipping cream.

And now that these plums have been cleaned and sliced...are you thinking what I'm thinking? Because if you are, there's a plum pie in our future!

A few we little insights on my first attempt to use water bath preserving! I was in Oakland this afternoon, and went to DisneyLand the Longs up on Pleasant Valley. It's like stepping back in time! I just needed the pectin (I used the Ball low-sugar pectin, though I was looking for Sure-Jell. It worked great! Last time I made strawberry jam I used one from Whole Foods and it way over set. Yuck.) but while I was there I found a water bath pot. I've never used one before, and I thought it was awesome.

Also, I didn't have a big-mouth funnel or the jar lifter. Instead of the funnel, I cleaned up an individual-sized yogurt container, cut out the bottom, and slipped into the top of a pint jar. It worked splendidly!

For the jar lifter, I think I might eventually splurge and get one. I started trying to use metal tongs, but no that didn't work. Then I switched to the silicone tipped tongs and they worked like a charm! Everything I've read says to not bump, tip, or otherwise jostle the jars as you are putting them in or taking them out of the water bath. No pressure, or anything. I dropped one jar using the metal tongs, so I took that jar out, used a fresh jar that I had put in boiling water to warm up, and started over with it.

I used the general directions from pick-you-own, and anywhere those directions differed from the insert that came with the water bath, I just sort of split the difference and called it a day.

The only other thing that was interesting was the 'clicking' and 'popping' of the jars. I could hear some popping sounds when I was pulling out the jars and placing them on the towel on the counter. I thought it meant that the seal wasn't set. Oh well, if a few didn't seal I could just put them in the refrigerator and eat those first. I'm pretty sure we could plow through a couple of pints of fresh berry jam before any spoilage could occur!

I carefully pressed on the lids of the jars, and 7 of the 8 didn't pop up and down, meaning they had sealed! Success! Oh well, one that did pop up and down wouldn't hurt! As I turned to finish up preparing the tomato sauce and the cobbler, I heard another popping sound. Oh no! I thought, now they are all unsealing! But when I went over to check, it turns out that all 8 were now sealed, with no popping lids at all when I gently pressed the tops. I guess that popping noise was a good thing!

I learn something new every day.


  1. One of the things my Mom and I do in the fall is make jams together. I like to give a loaf of homemade bread and a jar of jam to the teachers, bus drivers, etc at Christmas. Unfortunately, I never think to do it in the summer when the fruits are fresh. We typically use frozen.
    We also seal our jars in boiling water. I could hear the popping as I was reading your post. I love that sound!

  2. My grandmother made ketchup one year and they all exploded in her pantry in the middle of the night. What a mess....

  3. Tra ~ Making bread is topping my to-do-list as we speak! Oh, I see, you gave it away. Hmmmm...I'll have to think about that! ;) You could get the fruit fresh now, then clean it and freeze it yourself. I read last year where somebody made grape jam out of frozen grape juice. I swear. So I think you're good!

    Anon ~ Awesome. And, exactly the sort of tragedy I'm expecting, at any time. This scenario is absolutely in my future, if I know myself at all.

  4. Mia,
    Don't worry about exploding jam. I was afraid of canning and made only freezer jam because of such horror stories. Once Aunt Betty came to live with us I realized that jam, pie filling,marmalade, conserve, chutney and such are not a worry. There are canned things that are particular and can grow nasty poisonous bacteria, explode, etc., but the worst that happens with jam is a jar that has mold when you open it. (That has only happened to me once.)

  5. Kel ~ great news. I absolutely trust Aunt Betty! And that list, well, it's my list of everything 'good' so maybe I *will* escape unscathed! But tomato sauce...I'll probably keep freezing that? Maybe I'll do the water bath on a couple of jars as an experiment. After all, I DO have the microfiber clothes, so if it explodes, the clean up will be a snap! :)