Canning with ‘Food in Jars’

Yes, it’s true, I can. I love to ‘put up’ the bounty of summer. I’ve canned a lot of different things – jams, tomatoes, marinara, jalapenos, apple sauce, etc. If you follow me on Facebook (which you should!), you’d have seen that I am looking for a good bloody mary recipe to can. I would say that I am a mid-level canner – I know enough to get a good seal, but I don’t yet have the confidence to stray too far from a recipe. Which is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to learn from a master canner and super talented cookbook author, Marisa McClellan. She has a wonderful blog / website, dedicated to canning, called Food in Jars. She has written a beautiful cookbook, also called ‘Food in Jars.’

bookI have been following her for a while. When I first got into canning a few years ago, hers was one of the websites I devoured to get my bearings. She’s got lots of great pointers, recipes and anecdotes that helped me feel confident that I, too, could can.

Now, before you get too excited, please don’t picture her and I, two bloggers, hanging out in the kitchen, canning. As much as I would have loved that, I actually attended a class that she held at a local library. She stood up in front and hosted us all for about an hour, giving great information and answering all of my, er, our questions. All the while, she was making a small batch of apricot jam. Which was delicious, by the way.

As I mentioned, I consider myself a mid-level canner. Which to me means, as long as the recipe is good, I will be successful. But, if I have to guess at anything, I sort of panic and don’t know what to do. I have had several failures recently with getting the jam to set. Which means, my jam looks more like a fruit syrup (see photo below). Jam should not move freely about the jar. Contents should not shift during flight. The first time it happened, I thought maybe the pectin I used was old. When it happened again recently, I was mad. I needed to get to the bottom of this problem.

bad jam

All the recipes that I follow use pectin and I use normal, every-day pectin. I’m too afraid to go low-sugar, or God-forbid, none at all. These recipes all say ‘boil vigorously for one minute – only.’ I’m terrified to go any longer, I mean, what in the world will happen to my jam???!?! (See what I mean? Panic.)

Turns out, I wasn’t cooking it long enough. Duh. Thank God for Marisa – she totally calmed me down and assured me of the issue at hand and how easily corrected it is. She reminded me to do the saucer test – put a saucer in the freezer while you are cooking your jam. To test the set, drop a little on the saucer and put it back into the freezer for a couple of minutes. If it has formed a skin while in the freezer, it is set. If not, keep cooking.

Thanks to Marisa, I have a new-found confidence. I am going to open up those bad jars right now and try to fix them!! I read a quote recently: “A winner is a loser who tries one more time.” I think it was in reference to weight loss, but whatever, it applies to this too. I plan to be a winner today!

If you are thinking of getting into canning, I would recommend trying to catch a class with her. Follow her on Facebook – she announces all of her upcoming classes there. If you can’t get to see her in person, check out her website. She has a real no-nonsense approach to canning that will put anyone at ease.

Carrie and Marisa

Thanks for your time and help, Marisa!! Anytime you are looking for some canning company, drop me a line!

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  1. Carrie! Thanks so much for coming out to the class on Thursday night! I’m so glad I was able to put your heart at ease a little!

  2. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be
    actually one thing that I feel I’d never understand.
    It sort of feels too complex and extremely huge for
    me. I am taking a look forward for your next put up, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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