Bizz & BooBoo

A hippie mama doing her best!

Classic Strawberry Jam… Mmmm August 23, 2011

Filed under: Canning,Food,Preserving — bizzandbooboo @ 8:15 am
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This stuff is delicious, but of course it is because it has a lot of sugar in it. Well sometimes, I guess we just have to have some sugar 🙂

My first few jams that I have made so far this summer I have been concentrating on doing either low or no sugar recipes because I have been transitioning all of our food into low or no sugar foods over the past year.

Well, I felt like I just wanted to make a classic sugary jam with no pectin and I had a bunch of strawberries sitting in my fridge – so I got to it!

I used the Classic Strawberry Jam recipe from my “Put Em Up” Canning Book!

First step was to put 8 cups of hulled strawberries with 2 cups or sugar and let sit overnight! My strawberries are from the strawberry stand off of Hwy 99 and Meridian – they are local and use organic and sustainable farming practices – Yay! And since I was going to use sugar I did use Organic sugar, was tempted to try it with Rapadura, but wasn’t sure how it would work so tried this time with regular sugar, next time I’ll do a little experimenting 🙂


Now I put all of the strawberries in my saucepan and started stirring every so often and mashing along the way until it came to a boil!

*Note – I already had my pot for jars almost to a boil and my hot water bath pot turned on and heating up. Must always get these ready or you will have your food ready to ladle in hot jars and process – but no jars or boiling water to do it 🙂

Once the berries came to a boil I added the lemon juice. Now is the tricky (or not so much) part. Since I am not using pectin in this classic recipe the strawberries need to boil until they reach the gel point.

What the heck does that mean??

Apparently there are several ways to test this (this was all new to me!)

  • The gel point should be approximately 220 degrees
  • The boil will change from a quick boil with little bubbles to a lazy boil with bigger bubbles
  • The freeze test – put a plate in the freezer ahead of time and when ready to test drop a bit on the plate, then move it with your finger. If it is runny it’s not ready yet, if it wrinkles it is….
  • There was another way to tell to, but I forget what it was….

The berries has been boiling awhile but I didn’t think they were quite ready. I don’t have a candy thermometer because my last one got ruined somehow, I’ve never been good with them. But I remember reading a Hip Girl trick just last week about using a meat thermometer and figured I would give it a try!

It only went up to about 170 before my hand got too hot to hold it, will use a hot pad next time (or get a clothespin like in the Hip Trick!) But regardless, I could tell I had a ways to go!!

I was able to get all of this done while sweet BooBoo napped (she is still such a wonderful napper at 18 months I am so lucky). And awesome Bizz has been getting really inventive in building and playing on his own a lot lately – this is what he was doing for a good while during my jam making!

Okay – time to check the jam again! I had placed a plate in the freezer earlier. The first time I did the freezer plate test (when I also checked the temp) it was definetly runny (pic on left), the next time it looked like the jam was ready to me (pic on right!)


Jars are ready to ladle the jam into (I need to get a better ladle by the way! Don’t want to waste a precious drop of jam in between the saucepan and jars when all this love and elbow grease goes into it!). It looks and smells so good. I wish I could take a “smell” of it and post it on here like I do a picture!

Mmmm.. delicious! I better get some more strawberries and make more, this is gonna go fast! Next time I am going to try the vanilla bean variation – I bet the smell will be absolutely divine then!


BooBoo woke up just in time… now I’m going to go play….


My first blackberry jam! August 10, 2011

This is my summer of firsts for canning 🙂

Considering the only thing I had ever canned before is some grape jelly with my Mom last year (or was it the year before?) pretty much everything is a first for me!

I decided to go with the Pomona’s Pectin because I wanted something that I didn’t have to add an armload of sugar to. I looked at the little pamphlet of recipes that comes with it to figure out what to do. I decided I will start with basics and if it works then I will look for more exciting recipes 🙂

I had two possible recipes that I was thinking of following and they called for either 3 or 4 cups of mashed berries. I have no clue what that translates into for non-mashed berries. So while I was at the wednesday farmer’s market I asked the guys at the booth where I was buying the blackberries how many I needed for 4 cups of mashed berries to make jam. They asked me how many pints I was doing… ummm.. I don’t know – I didn’t look at how much the jam would make. So they didn’t know and I didn’t know.

I took my best guess and I purchased a beautiful tray of three looking forward to making some blackberry jam!

I decided to go with the “low sugar or honey” recipe in the pomona’s packet and proceeded to get the berries mashed to get my needed 4 cups.

But, I only ended up with 3 cups of mashed berries. Hmmmm, what should I do.

I scanned over the Pomona’s pamphlet again and found that the recipe for “Cooked All Fruit” Blackberry Jam only called for 3 cups of mashed fruit – guess I am going to make that one now!

*Note – I remembered this time how LONG it took my pots of water to boil to sterilize my jars and then to process my jars – so I turned my big pots of water on about 1/2 hour before I started “making” the jam.

I put the mashed berries, lemon juice and calcium water in the pan on the stove and started stirring.

In another smaller pot I started to bring the juice concentrate to a boil.

Once it boiled I poured it into my blender and added the pectin and blended for a little over a minute when it looked like all the pectin was dissolved!

I then brought the berries to a boil and added the pectin blend I had just prepared.

At this point I removed the berries from the heat and removed my jars from their hot water! I am so happy for the canning set my Mom got me last Christmas with the lid lifter and jar lifter and funnel – necessities for canning and not burning yourself!

I poured the jam into the jars and actually remembered to release air bubbles and wipe the rims this time (even though the recipe didn’t specifically direct me to do so – go figure….).

Then I processed the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water as directed!

Out came beautiful jars of blackberry jam – and once again the sweet *ping* of canning success made me do a little happy dance and giggle!

And I am never one to waste if I can help it, so I scooped out the remainder of the jam that didn’t go into the jars and enjoyed it on a piece of toast!



Here is the official recipe I used from the Pomona’s packet if you want to give it a go:

Blackberry “All Fruit” Jam


3 Cups mashed fruit

1/4 Cup lemon or lime juice

1 Cup juice concentrate (white grape, apple)

2 teaspoons pectin powder

2 teaspoons calcium water

Step 1: Sterilize Jars

Step 2: Prepare berries & measure fruit into pan with lemon or lime juice

Step 3: Add proper amount of calcium water (prepared per directions in pamphlet) from jar into pan and stir well

Step 4: Bring 1 cup juice concentrate to boil in separate pan. Once boiling put in blender and add pectin powder, vent lid and blend for 1-2 minutes until powder is dissolved.

Step 5: Bring Fruit in pan to a boil. Add pectin-concentrate mixture. Stir 1 minute while cooking. Return to boil and remove from heat.

Step 6: Fill jars to 1/4″ of top. Screw on lids. Place in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let jars cool. Check seals – lids should be sucked down. Lasts about 3 weeks once opened.


Now I have a canning question for anyone who might know. When it says to fill jar 1/4″ from the top I understand that is so if it expands, etc it will not explode. But if you only have enough let to fill say 1/2 of the jar, is it still fine to do that and process it, etc????


*This post was shared on Real Food Whole Health: Fresh Bites Friday on 8/26/2011!

*This post was also shared on The Nourishing Gourment Pennywise Platter Thursday 9/8/2011!

*Posted on my Gather Page 9/13/2011!

PS – I will be doing my first review and giveaway of a product SOON! Keep an eye out 🙂


My first pickle adventure! July 26, 2011

Filed under: Canning,Food,Preserving — bizzandbooboo @ 8:15 am
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I made pickles – dill spears to be exact.

I attended a food preservation class in town a couple of weeks ago and it was full of wonderful information and it motivated me to get some food preserved! This is the first time I have ever canned pickles so I was excited and nervous to make these for my husband and son who really enjoy pickles!

I don’t eat pickles, so I won’t be able to taste and let you know how delicious (or grotesque) they end up – but here goes!

I picked up a beautiful batch of cukes from the local Saturday morning Farmer’s Market!

First I washed and cut all the cukes into spears and then started to get the brine ready –

1st OOPS – have to let the cukes sit in salt and ice bath for 2 hours, it is already 8pm, hmmmm.. I guess I will be canning late tonight!

Put the cut cukes into a salt and ice bath!

Okay, time to start getting the brine ready – cutting up fresh garlic cloves from my GRUB CSA share…. mmmm, I love the smell of garlic!

Filled my big pots full of water – one for sterilizing, one for the waterbath, tea kettle going in case I need more boiling water, and one saucepan for the brine. (I think I might need a bigger stove for this)


During the time I was waiting for the cukes to sit and water and brine to boil I made a batch of perogi dough – more to come on perogi’s in a future post if you’ve never heard of them. (They are one of my FAVE foods!)


Okay, brine being stirred to a boil, jars in one pot sterlizing…

2nd OOPS – dropped jar lid into brine….

Fished jar lid out…. thinking where is Mom when I need her – she would be having a giggling fit with me right now. Though, when she planted her first garden back in the 70’s just after her and my Dad were married she asked my Dad if she could plant pickles….. hehe! But now she is the most amazing cook and do-everything Mom in the whole world!!

Okay, jar lid out – brine boiling…….

Rinsed cukes and packed in hot jars. Dropped a few garlic heads in each jar and then poured the hot brine over the top!

This is so exciting — I am making pickles!

Okay – putting the jars into the water bath…..

3rd OOPS – hot boiling water about to OVERFLOW out of huge stockpot on stove – ahhhhh…..

Not sure if you can tell – but the water is literally to the very top-most edge of this pot! Now I am hearing my Mom and my sister giggling in the kitchen.

Ladled some hot water out – put lid on and let pot come to rolling boil!

Whew…….. Now I just have to set timer and get ready to take jars out.

Reading over recipe and all the steps again…..

4th OOPS – Oh S—, I forgot to get air bubbles out and wipe the rim before putting lids on. Guess it is too late for that one!

Timer goes off – Pickles have boiled for 10 minutes and then sat for 5. Carefully take each jar out and set on the counter on top of a dishtowel. Before I even have the 2nd jar out I hear *ping* and I do a little whoop of joy and happy dance! It worked, it worked.

All the jars went on to *ping* and now in a few days I will have my hubby test out the spears and get back to you on the verdict!

In the meantime I am enjoying just looking at the beautiful jars of pickles on the kitchen counter and knowing that I canned them. Even with a few oopsies and no experience – it can be done 🙂

*This post was also shared on my Gather page – Check it out here!

** 8/17/11 Update – The dill spears have been tested by my hubby, Bizz and my mother-in law at this point.

The consensus is that they are very vinegary (next recipe I am going to use one with apple cider vinegar which is supposed to give it a more mellow vinegary taste). But – that they are still yummy and will be gobbled up 🙂