Fall in Kansas = Homemade Jam

I grew up in the sticks…..like waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere Kansas. My family hunted, fished, and gardened all passed down through several generations. For as long back I can remember we have canned tomatoes, froze vegetables, froze meat, and preserved jam. As a child I didn’t see the point but as I have gotten older (presumably wiser) I find that I have the desire to do all those things that I used to think were dumb.

I just bought 1/2 a prime Kansas side of beef from a local rancher friend. This means our freezer will be FULL of beef for the year. I love locally grown Kansas grain fed beef (drool). However, I had some fruit I harvested from my grandparents trees, vines, bushes, etc in the freezer that needed to be worked up to make room. So I decided to can some jam!

A short trip to Walmart for sone essentials and I was ready to go! I had the fruit for and wanted to make sour cherry, mixed red/black raspberry, and mixed berry. My grandmother always used Sure Jell and got great results. So that’s what I use. It’s great because the recipe inside usually only calls for fruit, sugar, and pectin. I follow the instructions inside the box in case any one is wanting my recipe, lol.

I love cooking and watching the food transform, especially with home grown hand picked produce! Downside to this process, I only have one large burner on my stove so I had to do a lot of pot and pan swapping and shuffling!

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I cooked the fruit in the large burner and sterilized my jars in my canning pot on the small burner. (And drinking a coke to keep my energy up). When the jam was fully cooked I poured into the jars on the counter while moving the canning pot to the big burner to bring it to boil so I could seal the jars. And then switching back again to start the next batch.

On a side note, I don’t like big chunks of fruit so I run it through a food processor to make smooth before I cook it. I like the nutrition (ha, that is before the multiple cups of sugar added of course) and flavor of the whole fruit, just not the chunky texture.

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After four hours of processing, cooking, switching, and shuffling I had seven batches of jam that made the equivalent of 41 half pints of jam!

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My notes on this project:

– I had waaaay more fruit than I thought and now I have waaaay more jam than I can eat! Undoubtedly some of this will end up as Christmas presents 🙂

– I was not as exact as I should have been on my measurements as I should have been. Therefore some of my jam batches set “harder” or thicker than others. Oh well, it still tastes good!

– Having only one larger burner slowed this process down way to far. Argh….

– Some of my jars didn’t seal right away after canning and I freaked. If they don’t seal you have to freeze them and they don’t have as long if a shelf life. Turned out I panicked early because by morning when they were completely cool, they all sealed! Thank heavens 🙂

Mostly I found that I enjoy working with food and my own two hands. Probably why I also like knitting because I create things with my hands. While I spent hours in the hot kitchen I still had a good time and have goods to show for my effort!

Happy Knitting! (And canning!)

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