Jamming and canning in fall after missing the bounty of summer? Yep, that's me.
I mentioned in this apple-y post how my dad has an apple tree which in past years hasn't produced the best apples but that this year has had some pretty good ones. It could be because he didn't prune back the tree or because it rained a lot more than usual last winter but whatever reason it is, Kristen and I actually liked these apples raw. That is until they started to get a bit sad and I decided to turn them into jam instead.
As a person who is enthusiastic about homemade foods, it is surprising that I never attempted to make jam before and completely missed summer produce. But, that is okay because these apples turned into excellent jam.
I remember that an ex-boyfriend's mother used to make jam and chutneys in the summer that were particular enjoyable. Good enough to eat with a spoon, dolloped on ice cream or squished between bread and peanut butter. Her strawberry jam was my favorite but that was before I was into food so I was never that interested in learning how to make it.
Fast forward to 5 years later and I have now successfully canned jam and enjoyed it! It is time intensive but actually pretty methodical and relaxing. But, I am a weirdo who would call canning a relaxing activity. I did a test run with some not so good strawberry freezer jam, some apples and some bad peaches using this tutorial which turned out to be successful and properly canned.
There are canning kits out there but I found that I could MacGyver things that I had like wrapping thick rubber bands around tongs so that the jars wouldn't slip out when removing them from boiling hot water. The only real problem I had was that I didn't have a large pot that was tall enough so I had to be particularly careful when boiling the jars and only bought shorter half pint jars from Target.
The only other hard part is timing everything. The jars should be sterilized and hot before putting the hot jam in and immediately canning them. There were a few times where the jars were done way before the jam was but I just sterilized them extra long.
As a first time jammer, I was worried when I didn't hear all of the seals pop on the jars but as usual, Popo knows all and said that as long as the top is firm 24 hours later when you press down on it, it should be sealed. And, if you aren't sure, you can always place them directly in the fridge or freezer.
I gave these to my coworkers can got raving reviews such as "three gold bars" and "sooo good on pumpkin pancakes" and "it was amazing".
Dreaming of the produce of summer again and making more jam all year long.
Apple Ginger Jam
Yields: 4 half-pint jars
There are many different ways to can, make jam, seal jars and when to know when your jam is set and sealed. This method is definitely not the only/correct one out there but it worked for me. See links in the post above for more thorough instruction.
- 6 cups chopped apples, peeled and with cores removed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup apple cider or juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 large pot (10-16 qt)
- Tongs + 2 thick rubber bands
- Rack or dishtowel
- ½ pint jars
In a large/deep pan or pot, cook apples with lemon juice, apple cider or juice and a cinnamon stick on medium heat, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes in, start sterilizing your jars. Add a rack or dishtowel to the bottom of your pot to prevent rattling/breakage. Sterilize glass jars in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. When apples have softened removed cinnamon stick and mash them with a potato masher until desired consistency is reached. Add in sugars, nutmeg and fresh ginger, stirring constantly while simmering until jam has set.
Once jam is just about done, remove jars from boiling water. Place upside down on a clean dishtowel for 5 minutes. In the meantime, place lids and rings in a small pot of simmering water to soften the seal.
Flip jam jars over. Fill each jar to the ½-inch mark. Run the chopstick around the edge of the jam to release air bubbles. Wipe off the tops of the jars with a clean paper towel to ensure that they will seal properly. Carefully place the lid on each jar and then the ring, tightening to finger-tight (i.e. just until it starts to tighten to leave room for expansion during canning). Add the jars in water and boil for 10-15 minutes. Jars should be covered with 1-2 inches of water. Remove jars to cool for 24 hours. You may hear a popping noise which indicates that the jar has sealed. Or, push on the top 24 hours later. If it is firm, you are good to go.