The Jam and Jelly Lady

  (Lebanon, Ohio)
Yes You Can!
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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, please call or email ( 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! 


New Year brings a Newly Inspired Jam!

We at the cannery usually take January off as we recover from months and months of harvest, fall festivals, and Christmas business.  But January is panning out a little different in 2012!  Already, we've been asked to stock empty shelves in our our little Southwestern Ohio shops, we opened our jams in a new shop (Basket Country in Maineville), and are planning new jams for our fans!

Last year we introduced Sweetheart Spread as an extra sweet-spicy jam to celebrate true love.  This year we've tweaked the spice level, making giving the illusion of a semi-hot cinnamon imperial candy, but with the fresh twist of juicy strawberries.  Here is are the ingredients that make up the flavor profile:

Strawberries: Besides being heart-shaped and red, this exquisitely sweet "fruit of love" was considered by the Romans as the fruit to offer the love goddess Venus.

Honey Bourbon: The Kentucky/Ohio border is famous for its fine bourbons. Being sweetened with honey, Honey Bourbon is smoother and sweeter than most whiskeys.

Cayenne: Whoa!  Cayenne and bourbon?  Oh, yes we can!  Besides being a time-honored cure for many maladies, cayenne is a natural blood thinner that strengthens the heart over time.  And what's true love without a heart?

Cinnamon: The intoxicating aroma of cinnamon has been immortalized in the religious documents of many faiths as it has been used throughout history as an offering, incense for alters, and even as a perfume for lover's beds.

Per our adherence to the principles of jam purists, Sweetheart Spread contains no citric acid (we use organic lemon juice) nor pectin (we cook it down the old-fashioned way that ensures the strongest fruit flavor and low sugar). 

In only a few days, our website will showcase a limited time special on Sweetheart Spread.  Take a peek and order some for your sweetheart!


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!!


Canning Classes

Announcing our May and June Canning Boot Camps!  On May 14 and June 12, in Lebanon, Ohio, 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 in size 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 May class has filled already, so if you are interested, please register on our website soon.  Happy spring!


Holiday Canning Classes

The end of harvest season is in sight, and I'm making plans for some rockin' canning classes this fall/winter!  Let's start filling your pantry with wondrous gifts that you CAN'T buy at the mall!!!

Ever been nervous about canning shelf-stable food - wary of serving it to your family and friends - worried about botulism?  If you want a comprehensive canning class that focuses on food safety as it relates to USDA-approved water bath and pressure canning techniques, Beginner's Class is for you! 

After taking this class, you'll be canning confidently and knowledgeably with a newfound food science background.  I'm offering one Beginner's Class: October 3, Sunday, noon till 6.  Maximum 10 students.  The second class is on Saturday, November 20, 10-4. $75 per person. Please register and pay on our website!

I'm also offering four Master's Classes in October and November.  You must have completed our Beginner's Class before registering for Master's Classes because I will NOT address food safety in Master's - we concentrate on recipes and techniques. 

On Wed., October 6 at 6:30 p.m. I'll teach Sinfully Rich Apple Variations, featuring Spiced Vanilla Apples and Caramel Apple Jam.  $25 per person.

On Wed., October 27 at 6:30 p.m., I'll teach Holiday Preserves I.  We'll learn Cinnamon & Cayenne Pickled Pears and Cran-Strawberry Butter.  Bring a small basket to hold 2 jars - I'll teach you how to make a wired bow and we'll professionally wrap your basket with the preserves you made this night.  One gift down!  $30 class cost.

On Wed., November 17 at 6:30 p.m., I'll teach Holiday Preserves II.  We'll learn 5-Pepper Jelly and Brandied Cardamom Peach Jam!  Bring a very small basket that will hold 2 1/2-pints of preserves so that I can teach you how to "finish" your gift!  $30 class cost.

Finally, at 6:30 on Monday, November 22, I'll teach one last Master's Class for the year.  I hadn't planned on adding this session, but a customer pointed out that after the November 20 Beginner's Class, I'd not offered any more Master's Courses before the holidays, and she really wanted to learn more about cool canning gifts before that time.  Silly me for not noticing that glitch in the schedule!  Stay tuned for the class description for this date.  Should have it figured out by September 14.  Thanks for your patience!

Online registration, only, at!  Let's Can!


Canning Tip #7: Making a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

Taught "Pickling Fruits" last night in our Masters Class.  I made a big mistake: in the morning, when I was prepping watermelon rind for pickling later, I just wasn't thinking, and simmered the rind in the brine instead of just letting it sit in cold brine.  The heat caused the salt to REALLY inhibit the rind, so during class there was no way to get the excess salt out. What a senior moment!! 

The students had already put together the watermelon pickling syrup per my instructions when I informed them the rind was too salty.  We were also working on pickling pears, but the class required two recipes to be presented.  Sooo, I opened the cooler doors and found 5 oranges I'd not used yet.  I tossed them on the chopping table and told the students, "We're not done yet!  Thinly slice these oranges and we'll use the watermelon syrup for these instead!"

After softening the orange rind by boiling it for a while, we put it in the syrup: vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole allspice, whole cloves.  For a little flair we decided to add a few TB of brandy and some orange zest.

The result was rockin'!  As we waited for the jars to process in the water bath, we all had bowls of vanilla ice cream with pickled pears on one side and spiced oranges on the other.  WOW! 

If you can enough, you'll make mistakes.  Sometimes big ones. I'd spent over an hour prepping the watermelon, so I lost that time.  But it was fun showing students how to recognize a mistake, take the loss, and move on to better things!


New Canning Class Schedule for June

Whew!  Trying to get ready for the Glendale Wine, Beer, and Food Festival that runs Friday through Sunday in Cincinnati takes days,  Meanwhile, I've been getting lots of email from folks who want to take a Beginner's Class, but can't make the class I've got schedule for next week, Mon and Tues the 17th and 18th.

So, I glued myself to the computer for a 1/2 hour and tried to come up with a date that will help everyone.  Sorry, can't do Saturday classes now that the farmers markets are beginning!  Without further ado, here is our schedule:

Beginner's All-Day Canning Class: Sunday, June 20, noon - 6.  In between water bath and pressure canning, I will serve a small tea using the jam you've made.  Each student takes home 2 jars they've canned themselves.  Very hands on.  $75.  To register:  This may well be the last all-day class I'm able to offer until October, due to a merrily BUSY canning season!!

Master's Class - Chutneys: Tuesday, June 22, 6:30 -8:30 p.m. $25.  You must have completed the beginner's class before moving on to this class!  We will learn to can two delicious chutneys this evening, and you will take a jar of each home.  Fabulous way to use up excess garden this summer!

Don't forget that you can purchase canning equipment after class: jars, water baths, pressure canners, books, and more. 

Don't wait to take a canning class - we won't offer any during the months of August or September because we're crazy canning everything in sight for the winter sales!!


Beginner's Canning Class in May

Just a quick note to let everyone know our next canning class was just scheduled. We accept 10 students (it's VERY hands-on, so we must keep it low), and only 8 positions left already.

May 17th and 18th (Monday and Tuesday nights) 6:30 - 9:30.  Cost is $75, and that includes all materials.  First night is waterbath and the second is pressure.  Our address is 1941 Hart Road, Lebanon, Ohio  45036.  I know that most students from far away will not be interested in this class, but I will schedule at least one more weekend, all-day class before August.   I've been teaching all-day Saturday classes all during the winter and spring, but as summer approaches, my weekend time is always taken by farmers markets and children's ball games.  So a week night is your best bet if you can make it.

Equipment is available for purchase at good prices, such as jars, canners, canning tools, etc. 

You can sign up through our website on thursday, or you can reserve today by calling direct 513-932-6470 and leave a clear message.  Or you can email to and let me know how many student are in your party, phone number, etc. I'll get back to you.  Thanks!


Last canning class of Spring!

Last canning class of the spring is this Saturday, April 10, 9-3 at our cannery.  As of this posting, I'm using a neighbor's internet to write because our internet has been down for two weeks!! So if you are interested in class, please don't register online, but call 513-932-6470 instead!

 What do we do in class?  It is divided into two sections.  In the morning we work on food safety regulations and water bath canning procedures.  Students can strawberry jam themselves!  

After a quick lunch (provided) we move into pressure canning, in which we learn how to can delicious glazed carrots. 

Jars, pressure canners, water bath canners, and other equipment are available for purchase that day.  It is so much fun networking with other canners and foodies - a hands-on class that is unlike any other cooking class you've attended!

Again, students should register by calling us directly, not online registration, please.


Master's Class - Valentine's Day!

Thanks to the die-hard canners who braved the arctic cold and made it to the Master's Canning - Valentine's class!  We made a new jam: Sweetheart Jam, and a butter pastry to match!  Sweetheart Jam will be stocked at Butcher Bill's in Mason, and also on our website,

What is Sweetheart Jam? Strawberries (the fruit of love!), orange zest and juice, cane sugar, organic lemon juice, and (drum roll, please) Grand Marnier! 

This is another of our "SoftSet" jams.  They are very soft, spoonable jams that you can stir into yogurt, drizzle over cheesecake, or pour on ice cream.  We use no pectin, unnatural preservatives, or corn syrup.  Actually, I don't have a problem with corn syrup, used in the right way - just not in everything I eat! 

Here's a picture of a heart-shaped tart that Martha made in class.  Thanks, Siewtin, for taking the photos!  I love when Siewtin signs up for class because she always brings her awesome Blackberry!  See our FaceBook page (Jam and Jelly Lady) for other photos!

Sign up for Beginner's Class - February 6th!  NOW is the time to learn to can - BEFORE canning season! 


A Canning Mystery

A Christmas canning mystery...  Who left the delicious preserves.  Why did they do it?  And why can't I eat them NOW?!  [Read More]

Christmas canning

Well, I both sorry and happy to say that I finished the last canning class of the year this week!  It makes for a hard day, canning all day, hustling the children everywhere, cleaning the house, and putting on a good dinner -- only to spend another 3-4 hours in the Summer Kitchen teaching canning.  But a very good day, nevertheless.

Taught two new recipes: Cran-Raspberry Jam and Holiday Chutney.  I think I just fell in love anew with jam and chutney!  The Cran-Raspberry Jam has little chunk of fruit and dried cranberries, plus a little cinnamon.  But the chutney really wowed all of us: pears, apples, brown sugar, cayenne, cider vinegar, etc.  I served it the next day at a small luncheon I put on for our dentist's office, and the staff loved it.  You could argue that everyone loves free food, but this was really tasty!

The pace of canning for the holidays is beginning to wear on me, and it's only the beginning of November!  My neck is horribly sore and stiff and I'm bone-tired.  I actually wrote a few more paragraphs on this blog about speaking at a gathering of health department officials this morning, and I felt my eyes falling asleep!  So that story is for another blog.  Good night!


Fall Canning

Canning class last night lasted till the wee hours and I'm a bit weary this morning.  But it's 8:30, kids are on the bus, I've got a great cup of joe, and I'm finally getting the cannery mess cleared up from last night.  Thank goodness for industrial-sized sinks!

The Summer Kitchen was full last night, but the bigger the class the better, to a point.  Lots of great questions and even more laughter at ourselves as first-timers tried to manhandle the long ladles, heavy pots, and lots of heat. 

At the beginning of class, I like to have everyone tell a story as to why they are in class so I know what they're looking for.  Typically, folks say they watched grandma can, and she's passed away.  So they've come to the Summer Kitchen to try to recreate old memories.  Some folks are trying to save money; others want to control where their food comes from.  Last night there was a mom with a child who was allergic to everything.  But the story I enjoyed the most was from a man, Pete, whose brother from CA sent him a jar of homemade catsup.  Pete was crazy about the catsup; said he put it on everything and then started eating it by the spoon!  But when asked, his brother wouldn't share the recipe!!  So Pete was in canning class so that he could come up with a gourmet recipe that would knock his brother's sock off.  I don't think he plans to share his new recipe. Game on, bro!

After canning our jars, we poured the remaining strawberry jam over warm brie and gobbled it up with crusty baguettes.  (Thanks, Farmer Jon, for growing me so many wonderful strawberries this summer.  I'm still in heaven!)  What a way to spend a crisp fall evening...

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