The Jam and Jelly Lady

  (Lebanon, Ohio)
Yes You Can!
[ Member listing ]

Getting Ready for Canning Boot Camp this Saturday

Due to some recent surgery, I've been mostly out of the cannery for three weeks.  I've got to teach a beginner's "Boot Camp" this weekend, so I've got to spend some time today dusting, mopping, and generally refamiliarizing myself with my work!  The cannery isn't small, so this is sometimes a daunting task for one person.

My most intimidating job is to clean four huge ceiling fans.  Why so many? The fans are an energy-conscious way of cooling the cannery while at the same time wicking away moisture on the many just-washed kettles.  The FDA prefers that we don't hand-dry the kettles - just let them air-dry.  But I NEED those kettles operational ASAP, so I spin those fans constantly to get the equipment dryer faster.  

 I'm working on writing a cookbook for canning beginner's right now.  Any name suggestions?  I want to write a book that reads clear as a bell for beginners, but also encourages and intrigues them to follow canning to its end.  Learning to can is just the beginning to a lifetime of good eating.  Taking canning to its next step is the hallmark of a true artisan though.  My plan is to write a beginners book, followed by a series of smaller books, each diving deeply into a specific area of canning, i.e, pickling fruits, chutneys, conserves, marmalades, etc. Wish me luck!  

P.S. for information about our upcoming classes, check out our page on this site, or look to our website, www.jamandjellylady.com.  Have a great day! 

Getting Ready for Canning Boot Camp this Saturday

Due to some recent surgery, I've been mostly out of the cannery for three weeks.  I've got to teach a beginner's "Boot Camp" this weekend, so I've got to spend some time today dusting, mopping, and generally refamiliarizing myself with my work!  The cannery isn't small, so this is sometimes a daunting task for one person.

My most intimidating job is to clean four huge ceiling fans.  Why so many? The fans are an energy-conscious way of cooling the cannery while at the same time wicking away moisture on the many just-washed kettles.  The FDA prefers that we don't hand-dry the kettles - just let them air-dry.  But I NEED those kettles operational ASAP, so I spin those fans constantly to get the equipment dryer faster.  

 I'm working on writing a cookbook for canning beginner's right now.  Any name suggestions?  I want to write a book that reads clear as a bell for beginners, but also encourages and intrigues them to follow canning to its end.  Learning to can is just the beginning to a lifetime of good eating.  Taking canning to its next step is the hallmark of a true artisan though.  My plan is to write a beginners book, followed by a series of smaller books, each diving deeply into a specific area of canning, i.e, pickling fruits, chutneys, conserves, marmalades, etc. Wish me luck!  

P.S. for information about our upcoming classes, check out our page on this site, or look to our website, www.jamandjellylady.com.  Have a great day! 

 
 

Meanderings: Surgery, canning class, and the West Chester Farmers Market...

Canning in big, heavy pots and carrying boxes and boxes of filled jars is not for the weak!  And certainly a strain for those of us who had foot surgery recently! 

You know, you go for years, thinking that your body is indestructible.  Really, my general doctor barely knows my name!  But 4 weeks ago a surgeon ripped apart my left foot.  I really thought no big deal, I'll be back in the saddle in a few days...  But he had other thoughts.  No lifting my kettles for at least a month (I'm cheating - I starting lifting a little after 3 weeks..)  And as soon as the left foot heals, he wants to get his nimble hands on my RIGHT foot!  Then no driving for a whole MONTH! 

The upside of this road bump is that I've had more time to work on the cookbook I've been trying to finish for years.  I networked to find the best deals (and some new ideas) on canning supplies for our retail area.  And I'm getting to learn a new accounting system that will help me keep track of costs, income, inventory, etc. 

VERY much looking forward to Saturday, the 12th, when I get to teach the first Boot Camp in a long while.  We've got four new canners in the class so far, and have room for six more, so anyone interested should sign up at www.jamandjellylady.com.

Leaving for the West Chester farmers market now.  It's so rainy and cold outside, but I'm looking forward to the warmth of good friends and a hot cup of coffee as we greet our die-hard customers!

 
 

Last Beginner's Canning Class was a Joy

Yesterday marked our last Beginner's Boot Camp for the year!  That's always both a relief and a somber time for me.  I've been canning and teaching hard since May, so I actually got to spend a few minutes sitting with my husband today - just sitting - no interruptions - just enjoyed one another's company.  A rare moment around this place!

But the end of the canning year is a time to reflect as well.  I looked at my records, and this year I taught over 120 people not just a cooking technique, but a tradition that they can safely pass on to future generations.  That is a feeling of success for me.  I NEVER knew this little canning itch of mine would impact so many others' lives... 

Yesterday, I had the priviledge of teaching a nutritionist (those folks really know good technique when they see it), a husband and wife team (trying to get back to the basics), a homesteader, and an experienced canner who yearned for more scientific background, plus a few more good folks.  It's a pleasure seeing through their eyes the first time they pour a good strawberry jam into a clean glass jar, filling the void with the rich red color.  And when we taste the jam poured over pound cake with whipped cream...  Mmmmm...

Thanks to all these delightful folks who participated in class, brought their canners in for testing, asked ALL good questions, and shared their own information about CSAs, u-pick farms, etc.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 
 

November Canning Class filling up FAST!

Our November Beginner Canning Boot Camp is almost full, and it's not until the 20th!  Looking forward to teaching these folks how to can SAFELY. 

Anyone can buy all the equipment to can, but in our cannery, we focus on giving beginners the intellectual equipment you need.  If you are armed with food safety knowledge for canning, you can problem-solve your way out of any situation!  That's why our classes are 6 hours, not 30 minutes...

More thorough description is available on our website. 

There are 3 spots left in this hands-on class.  Taught in our cannery located at 1941 Hart Road, Lebanon, Ohio.  Register online today.  There is a discount for students who register in pairs because it is always good to have a "canning buddy." 

www.jamandjellylady.com

 
 

Wonderful Canning Boot Camp today!

Wonderful Canning Boot Camp today, ladies!  I am hoarse and exhausted after six hours, but I had a marvelous time teaching and learning!  Most of you found out about our classes through our Local Harvest blog, which is very gratifying.  If you have anything comments about what you learned or how you learned it, please leave them on the "user review" section of our Local Harvest page. 

I especially enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie.  Rosemary, I'll be using your analogy of "barriers" of safety for a very long time.  How appropriate!  Count on OSHA to put for the best argument for food safety!!

Mary, Lynn, and Elizabeth - I expect to see your children in the Hamilton Cty fair next summer!  Remember, julienne, not medallions! lol!

Tona, your dry wit kept me in stitches!  And your keen observations kept the class on their toes! 

Thanks, Collene, for taking pictures.  I enjoyed hearing your case for clean foods and about your trip to Ireland where there were no preservatives in anything, and the portions were so much more controlled than in our society.  You added so much to the class.

Susan, I know your grandbabies will really appreciate spending time with you canning foods that they'll treasure all year.  I respected your point of view about importance of healthy school lunches and the scary problem of obesity in schoolchildren.

I just finished cleaning the kitchen and prepping fruit for tomorrow's canning, so it's off to bed!  I'll have NO problem finding sleep tonight!

 
 

West Chester Market, Christmas Jam, Canning Classes, and More!

Only a few more Saturdays at the West Chester Farmer's Market.  My, how fun it will be to sleep in past 5:30 on the weekend!!  But I'll miss the early morning cuppa joe from La Terza, watching the kids squirm in line for snow cones, and listening to the buzz of the crowd and farmers as they discuss the weather, crops, organics, and bees.

After the market ends, I'll still be attending Winter Market once a month up through Christmas.  You can pick up your Christmas Jam case orders during those markets if you wish.  Don't forget your customized Christmas Jam labels! 

Here's the deal: if you order a case of Christmas Jam (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries), we'll customize your labels free.  For example, you could write "Merry Christmas from the Smith Family" or "Season's Greetings from Acme Plumbing."  (The last one reminds me of Bugs Bunny - remember Acme products? lol) 

Christmas Jam is $6/jar, and there are six jars to a case, so a case is $72.  The jam is handmade in our cannery.  It is the perfect holiday gift to have on hand for the postman, paper boy, unexpected holiday guests, teacher, office mates, etc.  It's even more special to the recipient when your personal greeting is on it, too!

We have 1 more open position in our Beginner's Canning Class this Sunday from 12-6.  We'll be making strawberry jam and glazed carrots - yummy!  In the middle of class, during break, I'll make a quick trifle using some of the jam that the students just made.  Goes perfectly with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee!

 

 
 

Canning Tip #11: What's the difference between a jam and a jelly?

I'm asked all the time what's the difference between a jam and a jelly.  Fair question. 

If you had a spectrum of spread based on their thickness:

1.  Jelly would be at one end.  It is made with only juice. 

2.  Marmalade is the next thickest spread.  It is basically a jelly in which citrus rind or small pieces of fruit are suspended.  Think of grapefruit marmalade, orange marmalade, etc.

3. Curds are creamy spreads made from juice and butter.  I love, love, love lemon curd.  I use it as a filling for cakes.

4.  Butter is the next thickest.  It is pureed fruit.  Think pumpkin butter.

5.  Next comes a jam.  Jams are made of crushed fruit.

6.  Following a jam is a preserve.  Preserves are made from chunks or slices of fruit.  After cooking a preserve, it may retain some chunkiness, or the fruit may cook down to a smoother spread, much like a jam. 

7. Finally, you have a conserve.  This spread must contain a citrus, a nut or raisin (or both), and at least one other fruit.  This spread is definately chunky.

There are other varieties of spread that folks in other countries might add to this list, but this is pretty complete for the U.S.

 
 

Pressure Canning Class

Much thanks to the intelligent, motivated women I spent the last two nights with canning!  It was a pleasure teaching you water bath and pressure techniques.  Hang tight to that sharp pressure canner, Heather, I really liked its style!

The next Beginner's Canning Class is June 20th, noon to 6.  That's a Sunday.  My Saturdays are now full of farmers markets until next October!

The Beginner's Class in June is already 1/2 full and we just announced it, so if you are interested, email me first to see if we have room.  Following the June Beginner's class, we'll host a Master's Class on Fruit Pickles on the 22nd.

Again, I had a great time last night!  The glazed carrots looked delicious, and I only regret that I didn't take the time to make myself a few jars!

 
 

Canning Tip #5: Stick to your processing time!

I'm often asked why processing times for canning recipes are important.

Whether you use a water bath or pressure canner, the process time ensures that the very core of your jar of jam, beans, meat - whatever you are canning - is able to reach a temperature that kills harmful microorganisms.

Suppose you are canning green beans in quarts, and according to the recipe you should process beans in a pressure canner for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  The canner has reached 10 lbs., and you start the timer for 25 minutes.

Now suppose the phone rings - your child wants a car ride instead of riding the bus home (oh, this sounds like MY life!)  Really, you can't trim a minute off the timer!  Finish the full 25 minutes.  Because the extreme heat you're applying to the jars hasn't been applied long enough to kill all the bacteria at the center of the jar. 

If you shorten the processing time - what could happen?  Well, sometimes you get lucky.  But weeks later, you could detect a funny smell from the basement where the jars are stored.  It's the mold, yeast, or bacteria you didn't kill in the beans, having a "party" in the jar!  They have thrived in the moist, nutritious environment, and now they will emit nasty gasses and possibly explode the jar.  Worse case: botulism exists in the beans, waiting to sicken and possibly kill anyone who eats them. 

Wow.  Process your jars completely!  Beginners: I recommend the Ball Blue Book or try this USDA link: http://foodsafety.psu.edu/usda/1PrinciplesHomeCanning/RecommendedCanners.pdf

 
 

Canning is Not a Procrastinator's Favorite Pastime! Plan ahead!

I've received some emails regarding the next Beginner's Canning Class (May 17 and 18).  Yes, there is still room for more students.  And this is simply the best time to learn to can  --  BEFORE canning season goes crazy!  Sign up on our website, www.jamandjellylady.com.

First-time canners need time to evaluate, purchase, plant, and prepare before actually canning.  Although we offer classes in June and July, I always recommend folks take their class in the winter or spring.  I'm not trying to overwhelm anybody, because this is all doable, but for some folks this is a lot to do on a limited schedule.  Here is a "check list" a new canner usually goes through after taking one of our classes:

- reevaluate the garden plans.  After taking the class, 25 tomato heirloom tomatos should be balanced with a few romas, basil, and onions.  This is a decision that can't be made in July!

- evaluate canning supplies.  After learning what a good jar looks like, my free quart jars from a garage sale are obviously woefully best for recycling.  They are chipped and too big for jam anyway... 

- order a water bath or pressure canner, and any other specialty equipment I would enjoy this season: cherry pitter, food mill, apple corer/slicer, strawberry huller, juicer, food processor, jar lifter, scale, colander, stainless stockpot, imported spices, special canning jars for Christmas gifts...

- spend hours poring through canning books to generate a list of delicious recipes I want to make for my family and friends.  I'm missing a lot of key ingredients, so let's reevaluate the garden plan AGAIN!

- find local farmers and speak with them about u-picks, CSAs, farm markets, and other outlets for the produce I'll need.  Visit the farms, sign CSA agreements, and check on u-pick hours (because if I'm late, the good berries and apples will be gone!)

I'm just sayin'...  For some people, entering the world of canning is a natural step.  But I've known some students to actually take off a few days of work to purchase equipment, find farms, redo their entire garden, plan recipes, and make themselves generally crazy!  If you are of this ilk, please plan early - don't wait until July! 

"Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage." -- Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

 
 
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