Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Jelly Time

When I set my mind to accomplish a task, I pave my way through until it is accomplished. For example, I was on a quest of finding the perfect homemade thin crust pizza recipe. After making quite a few pizzas and watching my wonderful husband eating it to please the cook, I finally found the best recipe and will share with you soon. Next on my list was to learn how to can jelly. I decided to wait until my mama comes to visit so she can show me how to do it. As a little girl I remember my mama reading to me children’s book as the aroma of homemade strawberry jelly fill up the room.

Well, that same aroma was quickly knocked down, when my mama told me that she couldn’t remember all the proportions needed to make a jelly and she had no clue how to use a water bath canning method. This means that for the next two weeks I spent my time looking for books at our library and reading tons of literature on how to can jelly. I felt overwhelmed since all the recipes were calling for different quantities of sugar, so my mama decided to make up her own.

We started off by weighing the tub in which we were going to cook berries on the regular “I am on the diet again” scales. Then we weighed the same tub again with berries and calculated that we had about 5 lbs of berries to can. By the way we have a neighbor who has a gigantic garden and sells berries for $15 a bucket (big bucket). My mama and I had fun picking the blackberries and sampling them.

Now back to the jelly. So my mama makes the executive decision to put for every pound of berries a pound of sugar. Just typing about it gives me a sugar shock. My mama always knows best so we went with her decision. We added berries; sugar and a little bit of water and turned the stove on high. I thought that it would take 20 minutes to make the jelly, but it took 2 hours for the jelly to cook. My mom would come to the stove and would stir the jelly making sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Occasionally she would take the top foam layer of the jelly and I would take a spoonful of it at a time. Finally two hours later the liquid evaporated and we ended up with thick jelly consistency. The next part was the most difficult, since neither of us knew what all involves in the water bath canning process. I filled up a big tub with water and let it come to a boil. I then carefully placed all the jelly filled jars in the boiling water and let it “cook” for 20 minutes. I wasn’t sure at which point the popping should occur to let me know that the top of the can is sealed.

When we took the jars out of the pot, we set them on the counter and waited, and waited until we decided to go watch a Russian movie. When the movie started, we heard a pop. I jumped, ran in to the kitchen and danced until the other cans started to pop. My mama and I laughed. Actually, we laughed quite a lot at not knowing what we were doing the whole time we were canning the blackberry jelly. When jelly cooled off, I decided to sample it….and it was good and very sweet. I am so looking forward to can tomatoes and green beans and share with you the results.

I want to invest in good canning and preserving books and would love to hear your suggestions. If you have a favorite canning recipe, I would love to hear it. Thank you in advance.

1 comment:

  1. Use SureJell powdered pectin to make jams and jellies, it sets up faster, and I have had good results with it. It is the size of a regular Jello box, with the canning supplies at the grocery store, and it also contains step-by-step directions for fruit-to-sugar ratios. Ball Blue Book ( is a good resource, as is my trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.