My mom and I are canning partners. Each summer, starting about the end of July, we start madly preserving the harvest. We can all kinds of food, which makes up a good share of what my family eats during the winter. My only regret is that, for some bizarre reason, I was actually too intimidated by canning to do any preserving until about 5 or 6 years ago. Asking my mom to help me, I found it intensely satisfying and much simpler than I thought it would be. It is a beautiful sight to see canning shelves filled with jars of pickles, tomatoes, salsa, peaches and pears, applesauce, jam and loads of other goodies — all local foods.
A lot of people who want to do just a bit of canning start with jam. Grocery store jam is often full of sugar and natural food store jam comes in very small, expensive jars. To make low or no-sugar jam, you cannot use standard Certo brand pectin. I tried Certo Light pectin, but found the results unreliable (sometimes the jam would set and sometimes it wouldn’t) and was frustrated that the instructions said not to double recipes. Making 5 or 6 little tiny jars of jam at a time for our family of nine did not seem efficient to me!
Then, out of nowhere the happy fateful day arrived. I was at our local natural foods store and noticed the Pomona’s Universal Pectin on the shelf. I can only believe that God must have prompted me to buy a box since it was about $6, which is about three times as much as grocery store pectin. On a whim, I picked it up and took it home.
Later on at home, I looked over the instructions. I was pleased to find that Pomona’s makes three times the jam that regular pectin does and giddy to read that they encourage you to double or triple the recipe AND to experiment! If you have ever made jam before, you know that most pectin instructions do not encourage creativity and all but ban you from doubling the recipes. Pomona’s honestly seems to be virtually fail-proof.
Making up our first batch of jam with Pomona’s pectin was lots of fun. We did a double recipe of the low-sugar version included in the product insert. There are instructions as well for a no-sugar version, but we prefer just a little bit more sweetness. The resulting jam is absolutely delicious. It has tons of flavour, set beautifully and is gobbled up by everyone. I couldn’t be more pleased. We later made raspberry, pear, peach and apricot jam with the same, perfect results — not one fail.
If you are thinking you’d like to do just a little bit of canning, I heartily encourage you to try some jam (using Pomona’s pectin!). As long as you have a large enough pot to cover the small jars with water, you really need no special equipment. If you would like to try canning later this summer and the berries you want to use are ready now, you can freeze them to use when you are ready. We had excellent results doing this a couple of times.
So, that’s it! The secret for us is to use the right pectin. By the way, I am telling you about Pomona’s just because I love it, not because they paid me or even gave me any free pectin. (I wish.)
Are you planning on canning anything this summer? Do you have a favourite recipe you like?