Continuing with canning week today, I was trying to remember what prompted me to start canning, but I just couldn’t come up with one particular thing…I think there are several contributing factors. I had never canned with my mom, but the stories she’d tell me of her red-stained hands from peeling an endless line of tomatoes for sauce and canning them with my grandma made me long for a simpler time (and some of that tomato sauce). During fall 2009, I read a few blog posts here and there of people making their own jams and jellies as gifts for Christmas, and I thought that was a wonderful idea. I had a big enough stock pot, so I decided that I’d attempt making a few jars, just to go along with our Christmas gifts that year. Even without any extra equipment, I found it very satisfying standing over pots of bubbling fruit, especially the apple-cinnamon jam, since it made the whole house smell like apple pie. Of course, there was also the joy of hearing the “ping” as each jar sealed, and the sense of accomplishment that I had just preserved my own food. And of course, the look on everyone’s faces when I gave them homemade jam for Christmas!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I got the canning bug, and I got it bad. The next month, I bought a home canning kit and signed up for the Tigress Can Jam, a year-long canning group I participated in via my blog. With a new theme each month to get me learning how to preserve different things, it was kind of like canning boot camp…and everything I canned, I gave away as birthday and Christmas gifts, much to the gift receivers’ delight. Now, here I am, just as addicted to putting up as ever. In addition to gifts, I’m beginning to look to canning as a way to preserve the summer and to help us eat locally year round. It’s an exciting journey – one that I hope you’ll join in on, too!
- 5 cups red currant juice
- 5 cups sugar
- 3 1/2 Tbsp pectin
Rinse the red currants and place them in a large pot. Add just enough water so that the currants are covered. Cook them over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they become soft. Pass them through a food mill, discarding the stems and seeds.
For each cup of juice, add a cup of sugar to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. If you’re a little worried about the jelly setting like I was, add in the pectin. Let boil for five minutes.
Prepare your canning supplies. Sterilize the canning jars by running them in almost boiling water for several minutes. Boil a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids.
Turn off the heat and skim off any foam. Ladle the jelly into the hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Place the jars back into the canner and process (boil) for 10 minutes. Remove the canner lid and let them process 5 more minutes before removing the jars. The seals should suck down (you’ll hear a popping noise as they do). Let sit 24 hours for the jelly to set. Makes 5-6 eight-ounce jars.