We have a micro-farm, that is to say we have a bit of land and we grow and forage as much of our own food as possible. We have 3 gardens, 6 barrels, 2 kids gardens, currants, apples, rhubarb a few strawberries and raspberries and a greenhouse. We also raise chickens and turkeys for eggs and meat. We forage for summer goodies like lovage, nettles and goose tongue to enjoy in the summer and dip net salmon for winter eating. We freeze, can, smoke and dry and pickle our harvests.

I thoroughly enjoy putting food away for winter. It ties me to my history and I feel a deep connection to my great grandmothers and their mothers when I pick fresh foods and can them for my family. I know I can buy everything I need in a store but it just brings me great satisfaction to hear my kids ask what the red goo in jars is at the store, they’ve never had store bought jelly before.

Years ago I when I was a new mom to the oldest boy Hero, I found a book in a second hand store, “Putting food By” something about that title spoke to me. I wasn’t really living a clean and healthy life at that point but was on my way, thanks to Hero, hence his name, he saved my life from me. But anyway the book is a very well written handbook for putting food away to eat later. I bought it and stared at it for a year or two and then slowly started reading it and soaking up the information I really already knew from my childhood. I was raised in Alaska, we did ALL this stuff when I was a kid but I ran so far away from that life that I really didn’t remember the lessons I absorbed. “Putting Food By” rekindled my life lessons, I learned why certain things were done, not just to do them. I started making jellies from it with pectin, without pectin, with sugar, without sugar and then jams. I moved on to freezing fruits to eat later and then vegetables, blanching, draining, freezing. Meat cure? It’s in there. Pretty much everything I ever needed to know is in this book.

Hero is now 17. I have 2 more young boys and we put up a lot of food. Putting Food By lives on my counter come mid-summer. I look to it for refreshing my memory, inspiration, and good common sense as we move in to the harvest seasons.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about canning jams and jellies because in my (humble?) opinion they truly are the easiest. Then suddenly I saw on the best sellers shelf in my indie book store, Fireside Books, Putting Food By. I grabbed it and hugged it knowing so many lives will be enhanced by it and then I got this grand idea. What if I asked the publishers to give away a copy to my readers? And they replied no, we’ll give you 3! A W E S O M E !

 So I am going to give you some highlights to making jam and the basic rules. You are going to leave me a comment about canning in general, do you or don’t you, do you want to? Or if you’ve ever heard of Putting Food By. Anyone who follows me gets an extra entry. Ditto to anyone who blog rolls me.

  • 1 entry for a canning comment-separate
  • 1 entry for following-separate
  • 1 entry for a blog roll-separate

Contest ends in one week, Wednesday July 11th, Good Luck!

Basic Jam Rules
berries-washed and trimmed
pectin– I use Pomona Pectin because you can use honey for sweetener-read this post for my reasoning!
canning jars
clean new flat canning lids
clean canning rings
large canning kettle
small sauce pan
large dutch oven style pot to make jam in
funnel-large mouth size works well
measuring cups
wooden spoon
potato masher
flat bottom bowl for mashing berries
small bowl

fill the canning kettle with water and set to boil, keep an eye on the water you want it to be 2 inches deeper than the top of jars and boiling rapidly by the time the jars are full
place small pan on to warm with new flat lids and rings
wash jars in hot soapy water, rinse and fill with hot water to keep warm

measure your berries following your pectin packages directions

crush them first, then measure into the dutch oven
proceed following directions on your pectin package
adding sugar and pectin when called for

when the jam is ready to ladle into jars quickly skim off any foamy layer and set aside

pour out the hot water in your jars then fill with hot jam to within 1/4 inch of the top
use a clean napkin dipped in water to wipe any jam off the rim of the jar
fish the warmed lids and rings out of the pan and place a flat lid on each jar
then gently screw on a band
place each jar in the canner
make sure the water is about 2 inches above the jar lids

return to a rapid boil and boil for 5 minutes
remove and let cool

you’ll hear a ping as each lid seals
after they are thoroughly cool press each lid, any that are not sucked down tight and sealed put in the fridge and use first
the bowl of foam you skimmed off can be eaten as soon as it is cooled enough, a major treat in my house!

Peace and Love-