Stirring Things Up After Letting Things Sit

Jam-and-Jelly-Preserving-Pectins-101A long-time canner and blog reader, Ramona, wrote in the other day with a good question about why jams tend to separate – meaning the fruit goes to the top of the jam rather than being evenly distributed through the jell.

Here’s her question:

I noticed on the mixed berry and rhubarb jam recipe you suggested letting the jam set before putting into jars and the water bath canner. You said this will help keep the fruit mixed. Does this help with other jam recipes?  I have done canning for years, I am 76 years old and started canning with my Grandmother when I was a child. I have had several different jams to separate after the canning process. Would it help to let it set a few minutes before putting into jars? Pepper jelly especially separates.

Here’s something to consider … Continue reading

Pickles Getting Mushy? Remember to Trim the Blossoms

Pickles- 078Sam wrote in the other day and asked why his pickles are getting mushy. Here’s his question:

When we can pickles some end up soft, usually towards the top of the jar we use a pinch of alum do we need to use more or put a head of dill on top to hold pickles down or what? Any tips would be nice !

Glad to help Sam, here are a few things to keep in mind and try when it comes to pickling your cukes this year … Continue reading

In Search of Perfect Pepper Jelly

Green Pepper JellyJust the other day, I received a question from Alisha about pepper jelly:

I’m looking for a pepper jelly recipe, that utilizes a large variety of hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero, serrano, etc), with the minced pepper fruit suspended in the jelly. Have you come across any? We had a dear friend that used to make it… but she passed, and never shared her recipe. I remember she said it contained 6 different peppers… they were a variety of colors. And it was remarkable.

This raises a few interesting questions:

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Safe Canning Tips in Flood or Drought

By Shirley Camp, MS, LD, RDN, retired University of Illinois Extension master canner and educator

WATERDRIPGardens too wet or too dry?  It seems as though across the country this year we have a variety of conditions in our home gardens.  When we are growing produce to feed our families, both fresh consumption and preserving for later, how do we know which produce is safe and which we should compost?

When gardens have been flooded whether or not the produce is safe to consume depends on a number of conditions.  Most importantly, the cleanliness of the floodwater is to be considered; has the floodwater been contaminated by sewage, river or creek water, run-off from farms, or industrial pollutants?  If the answer to any of these is yes, for safety the produce should be discarded if it has been touched by floodwater.

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General jelly-making tips

Red JellyTo make jellies and jams that are of good quality, use the right amounts of four basic ingredients:  sugar, pectin, acid, and fruit.

You may choose to make either fresh or frozen fruit or juice.  If you are using frozen fruit, it should be frozen without sugar.  Sometimes commercially frozen or canned juices are lower in natural pectin content and the resulting jellied products may be a little softer in texture.  If you pick your own fruit or make your own fruit juice, you will have a better product if ¼ of the fruit is slightly under-ripe and ¾ of the fruit is fully ripe. Continue reading