The Jam and Jelly Lady

  (Lebanon, Ohio)
Yes You Can!
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Canning Classes: Beginner's Boot Camp in July!

Had a ball today with the Master’s crew, working on a plethora of delicious canning recipes: Sweet Pickled Pears, Chad’s Famous Bread and Butter Pickles, Dilly Beans, Italian Tomatoes, Jamaican Tomatoes, and (lastly) Creole Tomatoes. Whew! It was so very hard pulling myself back out to the cannery after dinner to finish loading the van for the West Chester Farmer’s Market tomorrow! Thanks everyone, especially dear Chad, for all your help checking levels, stirring pots, and giving me a hard time! 

 


So, what’s up for July? As most of you Boot Camp graduates know, I don’t teach in August, September, or October because of the big double-whammy: harvest season combined with fall show season. I get asked a LOT if I grow all the produce I “put up”. No way! I grow a few lovely tomatoes for soup and salsa, and I have a small orchard that sits atop a hill that seems to be a lightening rod for late frosts! But I really rely on local farmers to provide me with berries, zucchini, onions, apples, beets, and whatnot to produce our yummy jars of summer goodness.  Our little cannery consumed over 4,000 pounds of strawberries alone last year! No way can I plant, tend and harvest all of them while canning them too! (I know, I should get some cheese with that whine…)

So back to scheduling… I promised one more Boot Camp before August hits. I’m going to schedule that class for Sunday, July 15, 10 till 4. As always, a lovely buffet lunch is included. If you are traveling from afar and  need overnight accommodations, the Silver High Bed and Breakfast in Lebanon is my recommendation. Your hostess, Celeste, will serve you our jam for breakfast! Let me know if you want to stay there, and I will put you in touch with her.

Here are my thoughts on an interesting (and new) Masters Class. The students who came today are pretty psyched about a class on Tomato Jam and 5-Pepper Jelly. I’d like to round out that class with appetizer recipes. I’m thinking Wednesday, July 18, 6:30 till 8:30.

The other Master’s Classes that I will offer will be a repeat to accommodate the latest Boot Camp students. I’ll offer “Variations on Canning Tomatoes” on Wednesday, July 25 at 6:30.  In this class, we examine the fine line of acidity that tomatoes ride on, and delicious (and safe) recipes for enjoying these luscious Ohio fruits!Perfect class for canning a prolific tomato harvest!

Then I’ll also schedule “Canning Pickles” on Wednesday, August 1. In this pickling class, we’ll cover a little veggie and a little fruit pickling, both.  I hope to do the Pickled Pears again. I think they were the surprise hit of today’s class! And of course, we must make Bread and Butter Pickles – my favorite!

Hope to can with you soon!
 
 

Getting ready for Canning Boot Camp in June

It's canning season - and perhaps a little early! I've already been canning Ohio strawberries for three weeks -what the heck? It's so unusual to have these delicious, ruby-red berries in my cooler so early in the year, but you know the saying: make hay while the sun shines! 

The next 2012 Canning Boot Camp is Sunday, June 24, in our FDA/ODA inspected cannery, Lebanon, Ohio.  This hands-on class is geared for people who've never canned; for canners who are unsure of their techniques; for foodies who want to bring farm-to-fork; and for folks who are concerned that they are stocking their pantries with the freshest, healthiest foods for themselves and their family. We have a couple of openings left, and we only take 10 students, so sign up soon! 

All materials (plus lunch and snacks) are provided.  You need only bring your heart, an appetite (we serve a delicious buffet lunch), and perhaps an apron.  Each student leaves with a jar of what they've made: Strawberry Jam and Glazed Carrots! 

Sonya Staffan is a Master Preserver, and has operated The Jam and Jelly Lady for 17 years.  Before registering online (at www.jamandjellylady.com), please call or email (sonya@jamandjellylady.com) to make sure we still have openings.  We only allow 10 studenst per class because of the hands-on nature and the personal attention we like to give each student. 

Hope to can with you in June! 

 
 

Still a couple openings in Mar 11 Canning Boot Camp!

The next Canning Boot Camp is Sunday, April 21st, 10-4, in our FDA/ODA inspected cannery, in Lebanon, Ohio.  This hands-on class is geared for people who've never canned; for canners who are unsure of their techniques; for foodies who want to bring farm-to-fork; and for folks who are concerned that they are stocking their pantries with the freshest, healthiest foods for themselves and their family. We have a couple of openings left.


All materials (plus lunch and snacks) are provided.  You need only bring your heart, an appetite (we serve a delicious buffet lunch), and perhaps an apron.  Each student leaves with a jar of what they've made: Strawberry Jam and Glazed Carrots! 

Sonya Staffan is a Master Preserver, and has operated The Jam and Jelly Lady for 18 years.  Before registering online (at www.jamandjellylady.com), please call or email (sonya@jamandjellylady.com) to make sure we still have openings.  We only allow 10 students per class because of the hands-on nature and the personal attention we like to give each student. 

Look forward to canning with you! 

 
 

A Fabulous Boot Camp Class!

Just recovering from a very energetic group of Boot Camp canners yesterday!  What great questions, theories, and suggestions they had!

We began the class with lecture on mold, botulism, etc., and the importance of actually processing canned food.  After making a quick batch of strawberry jam (we got a little wild and added tangelo zest and juice, too), each student lined up to fill a jar.  Why is jar-filling time the most hilarious part of the class?  Haven't these women ladled soup before?? lol!  There's alway a lot of ribbing, nudging, and guffawing when someone fills a jar too high, or not enough!! 

After a quick lunch buffet, we began pressure canning glazed carrots.  Again, Sandie kept us in stitches, competing with her friends to create the most-likely-to-win-a-blue-ribbon-at-the-fair jar.  I suggested that they ALL enter their jars this year at the fair to let the judges decide!

While waiting for the pressure canning to do its work, we mowed through a warm baguette, brie, topped with a wide assortment of The Jam and Jelly Lady products.  I have to say, Pear Honey is always the winner.  It's a 4th generation spread, now that my daughter, Jessica, is canning it with me.

Thank you, thank you, ladies, for giving me such a special day with inspirational cooks.  It was my priviledge to can with you, and, as always, an honor to work with Chad.  Happy canning this summer, and I hope to see a few of you in Masters Classes!  FYI, Limoncello class is this Wednesday night, and we are DEFINATELY drinking, er, eating, a few of the samples!!

 
 

A VERY WET, but great Canning Boot Camp!

A week of rain and snow turned our backyard into a muddy mess today, but that didn't stop new canners from turning out in droves for the Canning Boot Camp!  This was a pretty advanced set of beginners today.  Except for one student, all had at least tried to can before, and some had spent quite a few hours at the elbows of moms, aunts, and grandmas as children.  

A recurring question today was this:  Why do some jams turn out dark, almost caramel tasting, but not in a good way?

The answer: overcooking.  First time canners most commonly have this problem with Strawberry Jam.  One student said she was boiling this jam, and got worried when the foaming bubbles grew high.  So she turned the temperature quite low and continued cooking until a set was reached.  But the resulting jam tasted horrible.

The solution:  Always cook Strawberry Jam at a high temperature.   Yes, it will boil high, but as long as it doesn't boil over the top¹, continue stirring frequently.  Eventually most of the water in the berries will evaporate, and the foam will decrease, and the level of the jam will drop dramatically in the pot.  If you try to cook this jam slowly, it will overcook and develop a nasty, thick, smoky, almost caramel flavor.

¹If your jams boil over the top of your pot, your pot is not deep enough.  It's natural for fruit to boil very high as they release their liquid into steam.  Always use the right size pot for the size of batch you're canning to avoid stove fires, burns on your skin, and big messes to clean!

 
 

Announcing our February Canning Boot Camp!

Announcing our first 2011 Canning Boot Camp!  On February 5, 10-4, in Lebanon, Ohio, 10 students will roll up their sleeves, don clean aprons (however little time THAT lasts!), and immerse themselves in water bath and pressure canning!

Our classes are limited to only 10 people because I give one-on-one attention, and everything is hands on.   We'll start out investigating the food science of canning, and then move into Strawberry Jam, made with locally grown strawberries.

Then we'll have a delicious lunch, plus dessert topped by some of the fresh jam.  After our repast, we'll dive into canning low acid foods with a pressure canner.  I'll teach both analog and weighted gauge technology, and students will be able to see and compare both methods.  We'll cook and can some very special Glazed Carrots in this section.

During class, we always have fun exchanging contact information for local u-picks, CSAs, and other important sources for canners.  We offer a variety of equipment for purchase that day, too.  

40% of the class has filled since this morning, so if you are interested, please register on our website soon.  I'm planning to have surgery in mid-February, and don't know when I'll be able to teach this again this spring.  I'm planning on teaching it again, but won't be able to put together a schedule until I see how the surgery goes.  Enjoy the snow!

 
 

Canning Boot Camp memory

I love January, and canning in my warm Summer Kitchen, while gazing frequently at the white landscape and drifting snow outside.  Today, I heated up some locally-pressed apple cider to sip, and worked on canning Sweetheart Spread and Blackberry Jam.  The spread is a jam concocted with locally grown Ohio strawberries, orange juice, orange zest, Grand Marnier (definately a Valentine-y liquor!), and organic lemon juice.  Wow, the smell is so good! 

Worked on our new class list for February through May. It reminded me of a funny story. 

Last February, we got a boatload of snow one fine Friday, the night before a Canning Boot Camp.  I had to cancel the camp.  But trying to negotiate a new date for all the new students to agree on was quite difficult - we all live busy lives!  After 2 weeks of back-and-forth emails, I THOUGHT I found a date that worked for everyone in March.  But one April morning, Pete and I were luxuriating on our bed, planning our carefree morning with A) no farmer's markets  B) no canning classes, and  C) no basketball games or Scout meetings with our kids!  Suddenly - a knock on the back door - odd!  Pete ran downstairs while I hurriedly threw on clothes.  Apparently, there were three women standing outside, wondering if they had the right address for Canning Boot Camp!

Oh My Gosh! 

I waltzed out the back door, acting as if I was just running a tad behind.  (Thank goodness I'd just scoured the Summer Kitchen the night before!)  I put on a pot of coffee, printed the class notes, and thawed some strawberries, all the while chatting and meeting the students.  I ran into the restroom to tuck in my shirt, smooth my hair, and gargle FAST!  Pete, meanwhile, was racing to Kroger to pick up food and drinks for lunch!  (Boot Camp is about 6 hours, and I always serve a nice lunch and dessert!)

You just have to laugh about those mistakes in life.  One of those beginning canners is now an employee of mine - fantastic cook!  We still guffaw about that morning!

 
 
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