Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Canning - Jams & Preserves

Well, this has been a summer of good intentions gone to pot. Never did buy my bushel of peaches. The second crop of cucumbers and 50% of the tomatoes dropped dead because of the scorching heat. And I completely forgot about going to the woods for blackberries in July. But the blueberry crop was amazing, so much so that we ate almost as many as we picked and I was left with precious few for jam. But watermelon rind preserves are made from the part you don't eat anyway so I managed to get a few jars ready for winter. The recipe has been in my husband's family for 80+ years that we know of and was probably handed down from a previous generation before that. It's easy and except for the cost of the sugar, is virtually free.
Mary Ellen's Watermelon Rind Preserves
2 lbs. watermelon rind
1 qt. cold water
1/4 c. non-iodized salt
1 lemon
4 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 c. hot water
Pare the watermelon rind and cut in cubes (no green, no red). Cover with cold water and salt and let stand overnight. In the morning, drain and cook in fresh water, to cover, until tender. Drain.
Mix sugar, hot water and thinly sliced lemon and add cooked watermelon. Cook until transparent (really transparent). Seal at once in sterilized jars. (Turn sealed jars upside down for 20 minutes or so. Then right side up to cool.)

Blueberry Jam
Berry jams are simple. Wash, crush & measure your berries with their juice. bring to a low boil and add 3/4 cups of sugar for every cup of berries. I always add a pinch of salt and a splash of lemon juice but don't know why. I just think it makes the flavor 'brighter'. Then cook and stir frequently until thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Some recipes will tell you to process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes but I don't. I always screw my bands on tight & invert the jars for a while. Having been burned a time or two by a splatter of boiling sugar juice, I figure no germ could possibly survive the incredible heat. But it's up to you.

To protect jar lids from dust or to prepare them as gifts, replace rings with the white plastic caps available in canning sections or remove the ring and tie a piece of fabric over the lid, or you can hold a circle of fabric in place with the ring. I do this more with jams and jellies than with anything else, mostly to discourage me from opening them before winter. What a delight is to get a fresh taste of summer on a cold, dreary day.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Thankyou once again for the insight you have. Reading your posts and words of wisdom are never dissapointing. I always try and share what you post with my friends on Facebook hoping it will give them as much pleasure as I get from reading them. By the way, I ended up with beautiful tomato plants that didn't grow a single tomato. Since we live in the same neighborhood I know now it wasnt my fault but the hot summer we have had that has caused problems for us all! Thank you Cia, God has truly given you a gift.