Monday, August 12, 2013

Jammin along.

This weekend something wonderful happened. All of my six beautiful, lovely, and bright children were all snatched up by something or someone.

Teenagers went to Teen Church camp on Wednesday, Friday my mom called and wanted to come get my three little girls and Friday night my third child was invited for an overnight.

We went out on a date on Friday night, skipped going out to a movie and watched some "mama & papa shows" in the LIVINGROOM. (this is a big deal clearly)

Saturday I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I knew that sleeping in was a must, that was accomplished. Noon, baby. I should win awards for this sort of thing. Then I decided to look for some HGTV style shows on Netflix in my LIVINGROOM since there were no cartoons in sight. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how the tv and Wii worked together, how to get Netflix on, then how to even find a show I was the least bit interested in. I settled for a cupcake show then a show called "Clean House" that was pretty painful to watch. I decided that watching tv was not nearly as exciting as it used to be and wondered how I could sit for hours on end doing NOTHING. So I got up and got on facebook.

After a good hour or two on facebook I realized I could can up some jam, after all, canning is typically a late night activity after kids have mostly gone to bed so I can use half a brain for all the technical difficulties that I encounter. No kids = easy canning!

I wanted to pick blueberries on Friday but that didn't work out, so I started looking for rhubarb and raspberries in my freezer. I ended up finding many tiny bags and boxes of currants, blueberries, raspberries, more blueberries and really old freezer burned salmon (that went to the chickens...please, salmon jam?). I eked out 3 cups of pulp berry mash and 3 more cups of juice, then re-cooked the pits and skins to get another 2 cups of juice (totally cheating, I know, but the results were amazing).

After gathering an even 8 cups of mash/juice I created my recipe using the guidelines for making your own recipe that come with Pomona's Universal Pectin. I have learned the hard way to follow their guidelines and not to skimp on the calcium water. This pectin is not a sugar triggered pectin so you can use ANY sweetener in your jam/jelly, you simply have to add calcium water to your mash to be sure the pectin triggers. It makes for better set up, better tasting (you can taste your fruit and not just sugar) and much more economical as you only use 3/4 of a teaspoon per cup of mash. Oh, and you can always double, triple, quadruple or even octuple your recipe.

Ok, ok, so enough about my life, onto the recipes...

Wait! One more thing! I don't remember if I have talked about all of my fence drama or not, this project I started 5 years ago? Anyway, hubby approved to HIRE a PROFESSIONAL fence builder to finish it for me! He got all the wood parts done on Saturday and now it's ready for us to paint. Then he'll come back and put on the fencing for our goats and chickens to have a big pasture to roam and eat on!!! Very exciting!

Back yard, board fence almost finished! Paint next, then woven wire stapeled to it. Should work for any creature that suits our fancy in the future!

Mixed Berry Blast Jam yield about 12 half pints, adjust recipe as needed, reduce or increase all ingredients the same ratio.

8 cups of berry mash, we used currants and non stemed blueberries for juice in one pot and a jam mash of cleaned blueberries, raspberries and a few leftover store bought blueberries in another pot.
1/4 c lemon juice (this is used in low acid jams, blueberries are low acid) for measuring purposes 1/4c also equals 4 T.
3 T calcium water (I rounded up from 8 teaspoons for ease)
-bring these three things to a boil, while cooking prepare:
3 c sugar
2 T Pomona pectin
-whisk pectin into sugar

After mash boils add sugar and pectin, stir vigorously for one to two minutes while it all dissolves. Bring mash back up to a boil then turn off heat. Fill sterile jars with mix, add two piece lids and water bath can for 10 minutes.

*Review on finished product: This jam set up almost immediately, even before it was cool. The taste was fantastic, when you use less sugar you can really taste your berries. Very thick and sturdy, delicious jam.

Mixed Berry Blast

RhubyRazz Jam yield about 16 half pints, adjust recipe as needed, reduce or increase all ingredients the same ratio.

8 cups of mashed rhubarb (I actually used 16 frozen cups of rhubarb to make 8 mashed cups)
4 cups of mashed raspberries (measured after cooking the rest of my four year old raspberries)
*no lemon juice needed because of high acid content
12 teaspoons of calcium water = 4 T
-bring these to a boil, while cooking prepare:
5 c sugar
8 tsp Pomona pectin
-whisk pectin into sugar

After mash boils add sugar and pectin, stir vigorously for one to two minutes while it all dissolves. Bring mash back up to a boil then turn off heat. Fill sterile jars with mix, add two piece lids and water bath can for 10 minutes.

*Review on finished product: This jam still has that tart kick that I love about rhubarb and raspberries. With only 5 cups of sugar it's a great balance of sweet and tart. It jelled well and does not appear like "regular" jam but rhubarb jam is always a bit different because of it's consistency. Most pectins won't set up rhubarb for some reason, but Pomona does a great job.

RhubyRazz Jam

*Note about low sugar jam and jelly. THEY WILL MOLD! Yes, it's true. If you have a house like mine and a kid can't find the jam that's opened they just open a new one, so I have (sadly) found jam pushed to the back of the fridge with mold inside. So it won't keep as long in the fridge as higher sugar jams, so I started using smaller jars (I used to use pint and 1 1/2 pint jars). This year a friend gave me 2 more dozen 1/2 pint jars perfect for jam.
Taste testing my RhubyRazz compared to what I did today straight after church....Watermelon Lime jam. I'll have to post on that later, hubby want's me to quit blogging...sheesh.

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