When I was kid growing up in the heart of deepest, darkest Kitsilano, deep and dark in the heart of our basement, were shelves that were always filled with jars of preserves.
My parents would make their way through the Okanagan every summer, and come home with the back seat of the car loaded with peaches, apricots and cherries. Add to that the booty from our backyard plum tree, and my mom was kept busy for several days after making preserves.
The one litre jars of fruit became our dessert often in the cooler winter months when fresh fruit wasn’t as readily available. In later years, after we’d moved to Newfoundland, my mom somehow coaxed strawberries to grow out of the rock we lived on, and her strawberry freezer jam was a hot, well-sought-after commodity.
Seems like not many people do canning these days. We have access to fresh or frozen fruit year-round, and buying jam, I imagine, many people think is much quicker and easier than making your own.
But like the “local food,” “slow food” and “grow your own food” movements that seem to be really happening right now, I think preserving your own food follows suit.
My friend ALB just brought me back 5 lbs of Cherries from the Okanagan, and I spent the last couple of days turning them into jam (and ice cream–recipe to come later). This is jam I can feel good about: it contains exactly 4 ingredients, and nothing I can’t pronounce. I’m already trying to decide which lucky friends get to share the wealth. You see, in a world where everything is store-bought, I think “homemade” begins to carry more weight. It’s like getting a card in the mail. You know, snail mail? When was the last time that happened to you? It’s rare, right? Precious.
For this culinary experiment, I got to test-drive the Bernardin Home Canning Kit. It came in the mail in a huge box, and contains everything you need to make your own preserves. Mine also included a darling decorating kit with gingham-checked fabric toppers and labels that will make you look so very Martha. The decorating kits are a new product that will be available at Canadian Tire in September.
My favourite thing about the kit was the utensil set. It includes a wide-mouthed funnel (exactly the right size to fit in the jar to minimize spillage), a jar lifter (looks like rounded tongs, and works like a dream for getting jars in and out of the boiling bath) and a magnetic wand for getting the jar lids out of their hot bath.
I have partnered with Bernardin (which is a Canadian owned and operated company for 100 years), as part of their First Annual National Can-It-Forward Day on August 11, to give away one of these Home Canning Kits–worth $50! On August 11, Executive Chef Emerie Brine will be hosting a canning demonstration that will be broadcast live from Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Toronto. The event will begin at 1pm EST, and you can follow along from at home. Details about how to enter the contest are at the end of the post.
Cherry Jam (from Bernardin.ca)
Makes about 6-250 ml jars
- 4 cups chopped cherries, about (1.4 kg)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 pkg BERNARDIN® Original Fruit Pectin
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- Place 6 clean 250 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.
- Wash, stem, pit (this is the most time-consuming part. I recommend a cherry pitter for this job, or use one of these methods) and finely chop cherries (I used my food processor to chop the cherries so that my kitchen didn’t end up looking like a scene from Friday the 13th). Measure 4 cups set aside.
- Measure sugar; set aside.
- In a large deep stainless steel saucepan, stir together prepared cherries, lemon juice 1/2 tsp (2 ml) butter or margarine to reduce foaming, and BERNARDIN® Original Pectin.
- Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Add all of the sugar. Stirring constantly, return mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam, if necessary. (NOTE: I let my boil down for a full 10 minutes, because I should have chopped my cherries a bit finer, and I like a thicker jam).
- Ladle hot jam into a hot jar to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining jam.
- When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process – boil filled jars – 10 minutes.*
- When processing time is complete, turn stove off, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands (listen for the “pop”s! It’s the most satisfying sound in the world!).
- After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.
To win this Bernardin Home Canning Kit worth $50:
*this contest is open to Canadian Residents ONLY*
- In the comment section below, tell me what you’d like to make with your new kit.
- You can generate a second entry by copy/pasting and sending this as a tweet:
I entered to win a Home Canning Kit from @Bernardin from @RebeccaColeman! http://bit.ly/1bT2xEH #CookingByLaptop #CanItForward
And don’t forget to follow @Bernardin and the hashtag #CanItForward on August 11. I will make the draw on August 12. Good luck!! I might even throw in a jar of my jam!
Contest is now closed!