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Sunday in the Garden 2/26/23

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Making Blackberry Jam. Been busy these past six months! Sue started a new job in January, and it has been very busy @ Casa Tiger. We are preparing to get back to the Farmer's Market in May, and part of that is getting back to making videos. So, sorry we've been away for awhile, but we're happy to get back to "Sunday in the Garden." As you may know, it's still cold outside in Champaign, so we're not really outside yet, although I planted broccoli and cabbage seeds indoors yesterday. But that's beside the point ...

This Sunday, February 26th, 2023, we are making our award-winning Blackberry-Lemon Jam! This recipe won 1st place at the Illinois State Fair in 2022! But more importantly, it is now part of an upcoming online course on how to can (details below.) This is Recipe 2, Lesson 7: Jams

This video takes you through the entire process of making Blackberry-Lemon Jam, until the jars are labeled before they go into the canner. A couple of things about this video: 1) when I say "go over" I mean "boil over," 2) this is step one of the entire canning process, step two being the pressure canning process (shown below,) and 3) clean your stove often, which is hard to do. With as many jams and jellies as we make, sometimes I go too fast, and the contents boils over the pot. Then you have hot, sticky liquid all over your stove. Thank the heavens above that I didn't learn to can until I got a glass stove, because I can't even imagine cleaning those coils on a regular basis, and the pans underneath them. Lordy!

That's why you can hear near-panic in my voice as the boiling jam rises in the pot followed by surprised elation that it doesn't actually boil over. This is an unfortunately common emotion in the canning world -- exasperated relief. With jams and jellies, the process is similar in some respects to glass-blowing in that the success of the whole thing is getting the boiling liquid to hard boil for more than a minute -- twice! And every fruit foams up differently, that's why you have to be so careful. In this case, the blackberry jam didn't want to foam and boil over the pot, but peach jelly? Foams and rises like CRAZY. And then it boils over, and you say Grrrrrrrrrr. And you have to clean it up right away, or the hot, sticky liquid solidifies like cement and you have to pry it off with a razor blade. You know those glass stove cleaning kits? I go through about one per year.

The pressure canning process is below:

Here are the steps to pressure canning:

  1. Get your canner ready, and all the canning accessories

  2. Load the canner with your set Blackberry-Lemon Jam and any other jars that are ready to process (our canner holds 14 8-oz jars.) Add a splash of vinegar.

  3. Set the heat on high. When the water in the canner boils so that a steady stream of steam is coming out of the top of the canner, put the weight over the steam.

  4. When the weight starts to rock slowly back and forth, turn the heat down to medium and set the timer for 10 minutes.

  5. After 10 minutes, turn the heat completely off and cool the canner completely. It will take several minutes, but when the button goes down on the top of the canner, you can take the jars out of the canner. It will still be very hot, so be careful not to get hit with steam.

  6. When you decide to, get the jars out of the canner (but you don't need it to cool down completely because the longer the jars sit in the canner, the more likely the rings will rust.)

  7. Let the jars completely cool when you do get them out of the canner, and then label accordingly AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. (You might be in love with your creation, in this case blackberry-lemon, but a few months later, blackberry-lemon and blackberry look exactly alike, and with the darker berries, it gets hard-to-impossible to tell them apart.) LABEL!!!

This recipe is a favorite with our customers, as the lemon is surprising and refreshing without being overwhelming. It's really incredible to hear our customers at the Farmer's Market talk about it, so it's a complete pleasure to make. Our blackberry-lemon jam also won a blue ribbon at the Illinois State Fair in 2022! (Pictured on the far left -- the blue ribbon next to the white 3rd place ribbon for Apple Jelly! Both products included on my online canning course!)

Below is a rough-draft of my online canning course: Here's the intro!

The lessons are listed in order of increasing difficulty. Start with the easiest, Lesson 1:

Lesson 1: One-day relishes

Recipe 1a: Corn Relish -- 1st place winner @ the Champaign County Fair 2021!

Recipe 1b: Sweet/Hot Pepper Relish

Recipe 1c: Sweet Cucumber Relish

Lesson 2: Two-day relishes

Recipe 2a: Squash Relish -- Grand Champion winner @ the Champaign County Fair 2019!

Recipe 2b: Chow-Chow Relish -- 1st place winner @ the Champaign County Fair 2022!

Lesson 3: Pickles

Recipe 3a: Any Mrs. Wages recipe

Recipe 3b: Your own dill or bread & butter pickle recipe

Lesson 4: Salsas

Recipe 4b: Medium Salsa – define your heat level

Recipe 4c: Hot Salsa – defend your heat level -- 1st place winner @ the Champaign Fair 2022!

Lesson 5: Spaghetti Sauce/Pizza Sauce

Recipe 5a: Spaghetti Sauce

Recipe 5b: Pizza Sauce

Use the above recipe and add tomato paste until desired thickness is achieved.

Lesson 6: Tomato Soup/Red Pepper Soup

Recipe 6a: Tomato Soup

Recipe 6b: Red Pepper Soup

Lesson 7: Jams

Recipe 7a: Strawberry Jam

Recipe 7b: Blackberry Jam -- 1st place winner @ the Illinois State Fair 2022!

Lesson 8: Jellies

Recipe 8a: Apple Jelly -- 3rd place winner @ the Illinois State Fair 2022!

Recipe 8b: Grilled Peach Jelly -- 1st place winner @ the Champaign County Fair 2022!

Recipe 8c: Dandelion Jelly (making & re-setting!) -- 3rd place winner @ the Champaign Fair 2022!

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