Only once, about eighteen years ago, did I do any canning for myself, and then I made strawberry jam. I made that first batch of jam using Pomona's Universal Pectin, which allows you to use MUCH less sugar. You can even make jams with sugar substitutes or honey. I like being able to sweeten to taste because everyone at my house likes their jam a little less sweet. And the directions that come with the pectin are easy to follow. I found it at my local health food store, but if you can't find it locally you can find it online. A box lasts you for at least two batches.
This year I started with that same recipe. I didn't grow any berries, but I found some at a good price and bought enough so that I was forced to can them.
Then I had a whole counter full of cucumbers that needed to be dealt with. This was on the same day that I put up that last batch of corn -- the day before I was leaving to go out of town. Not great timing, but it needed to be done. Maybe I work better under pressure.
|Ignore the pack of hamburger that snuck into the picture|
|Pouring the pickling mix over the pickles|
The pickles have to sit six weeks in the jars without being opened, so I don't know yet how they turned out. At least they actually LOOK like pickles. I ended up with a dozen pint jars.
|The last jar has a little separation but will still be fine (I think)|
Finally, the strawberry jam was so delicious that I decided to do it again, only this time I made strawberry-rhubarb jam (eight jars).
|It turned out delicious, too!|
Here are the recipes I used:
Strawberry Jam -- Pomona Pectin recipes
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam -- Pomona Pectin recipes
Kosher Dill Pickles -- just followed the directions on Ball Kosher Dill mix
Crushed Tomatoes -- PickYourOwn.org
Let me add here that the PickYourOwn site is chockfull of helpful information. Well worth a look!
I purchased a canning utensil set, which includes a wide-mouth funnel, a magnetic wand (to fish the lids out of the hot water), a thing to remove air bubbles, and a jar lifter. I also purchased the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, the jars themselves (which can be reused), and the labels (not necessary, but a Sharpie marker is). Not too much of an outlay, and next year it will be even less. I am already dreaming of what else I can put up :)