Friday, June 27, 2014

Waterbath Canning, Berry Jam and Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

I remember canning when I was younger. My dad (I love you dad!) would try to can these HUGE batches of foods at once, the kitchen was a disaster, and we all went a little nuts. I understand the appeal, if you are going to go to all that trouble, might as well get it all (or most of it) done at once right? Wrong! Especially when you are first starting out. Water bath canning has a bunch of different steps, they are simple but to be most successful (and complete the steps with your sanity intact) it is best to start with one type of product, get comfortable and THEN move on to a new type.

My husband couldn't wait for toast this morning!

One of my biggest secrets in general for the kitchen came from my mom. She isnt a big cook. She can cook well, it just isnt her "thing" or her passion. Let me tell you one thing though, that lady knows how to get through anything in the kitchen without it ending as a disaster zone. Rule #1 I learned as a child and my absolute GOLDEN RULE: A good cook cleans as they go. It sounds stupid simple. My dad does NOT follow this rule, my mom does. I have seen the difference first hand. Yes, you wash the same amount of dishes but it saves your sanity. Any time I have a break in the process of ANY food I make, everything possible gets cleaned up. I have a small kitchen, when it's dirty doing anything in it is overwhelming. Canning in my small galley kitchen is overwhelming if I dont stay organized. Making bread in my apartment sized kitchen is frightening without cleaning and wiping after each step. You know what the worst thing is though? Going through all the trouble of making a gloriously divine meal and having an hour long clean up afterwards because I just let the dishes pile up instead. GROSS.

Oh man, totally went off track there for a minute. Ok, back to canning.
* Always follow an established recipe. Don't just make up your own. They have specific ratios and instructions for a reason. You want your food to be safe AND delicious (oh yeah and not rot in the jars).
* Use clean, washed jars. Again, use the appropriate size per the recipe. The water bath time is for that specific jar size. Always check the rims of the jars to make sure there are no cracks or chips.
* You CANNOT seal jars using the same seals twice. To make sure I dont reuse the same lids, I write on the lid of the jar once they have sealed. Of course they can be reused just for storing something in the fridge but you cannot ensure a proper seal if you use used lids.
* Rings CAN be reused, just make sure they are washed.
* Tools are your friends! Yes, you can do it without them but for about $6 I got kit with a jar lifter, jar funnel, lid lifter and debubbler/measuring tool. That was just regular price at Walmart.

I always get out all my supplies and lay them out, clean them and set them up.

Large stock pot ( I got mine at Goodwill for a couple bucks) and clean, crack and chip free jars. 

Jar funnel, jar lifter, debubbler/measurer, lid lifter rings and new lids

Heavy 4 qt pot and berries. ( I froze mine because I couldn't use them soon enough after we picked them).

I put my berries in smallish increments in a flat bottom glass bowl and thawed them in the microwave.

Almost there...

Once mostly thawed, mash them up! It's ok if you dont get every little chunk out.

 Always measure your ingredients. This recipe calls for 4 cups of mashed berries.

Mixed Berry Jam Recipe 

Makes about 5 Half Pints (8 oz)
Mix and match your favorite berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries to create a delightful jam using Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin.

You Will Need:

  • 4 cups crushed berries, mix and match your favorites such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries
  • 4 ½ Tbsp Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 Ball® or Kerr® Half Pint (8 oz) Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with lids and bands


  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Wash jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Heat jars and in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set lids and bands aside. 
  2. COMBINE berries in an 8-quart saucepan.
    Gradually stir in pectin.
    Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. 
  3. ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve.
    Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary.
  4. LADLE hot jam into hot jars, one at a time,
    leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
    Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
  5. PLACE filled jars in canner ensuring jars are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner. Bring water to gentle, steady boil.
  6. PROCESS jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

  There is intense satisfaction in hearing the jars pop as you let them cool. Gotta love a proper seal!

I love to give them as gifts with a fresh loaf of Buttermilk Honey Bread and a jar of Vanilla Bean Honey Butter! It's an easy way to bless a friend or neighbor.

Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Beat all ingredients together until combined and fluffy. 

Sorry I don't have good pics of the butter!

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