I like to put things in jars.

If you are nervous about canning or want to learn the basic process for safely storing food in jars I suggest picking up a copy of “Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving”. Great book. Worth every penny. It is usually to be found near the giant stack of canning jars, lids, specialized tongs and muslin that shows up at your grocery store every August. A new copy of this book is good to have around because our understanding of food safety has changed over the years. What worked for your mother and grandmother may no longer be the safest (or easiest) way to store food in jars. We no longer need to seal jars with wax. We no longer reuse snap lids for a million years. There are new suggested sanitation methods as well as new suggested cheats and short cuts.

I just finished putting together a batch of jelly and used liquid pectin for the first time. It started setting almost instantly. It was the easiest batch of jam or jelly I have ever made. Here is the recipe:

Saffron and Ginger Jelly

Wash and inspect 8 or 9 250mL glass jars, snap lids, and rings. Place the jars on a baking sheet. Turn on your oven to 225*F. Place the lids and rings in a pot of water. Add your tongs and canning funnel as well. Bring that pot to a boil for one minute (being careful not to melt your canning funnel of course). Leave everything in the pot until you are ready to use it.

Place the jars in the oven for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Turn the oven off. Leave your jars in the oven until you are ready to use them.

Meanwhile prepare the following:

2.5 cups crab apple or apple juice

2.5 cups peach or nectarine juice

1″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin

Pinch saffron (optional, but worth it)

2 Tbsp lemon juice

7 cups sugar (Yes. Do it. It’s jelly.)

Place everything in a large pot and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Let it boil hard for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in 1 pouch of liquid pectin. Pull the jars out of the oven. Stir the jelly gently for 5 minutes. Skim off the foam (and save it because it is delicious on toast or in yogurt). Use your sterilized canning funnel to fill the jars. Only fill them to the bottom of the canning funnel. This should leave you with about 3/4 of an inch of head space on the jar. Fill all the jars. Dampen a piece of single use paper towel and carefully wipe the rims and outside top edges of your jars to remove any and all spilled jelly. Use tongs to remove the hot snap lids and rings from the pot of water. Place snap lids on jars and then put on the rings – tighten the rings, but do not over tighten them. Be gentle.

As the jars cool the contents will condense and the snap lids will snap downwards. You should hear the jars pop. Leave them alone until they do. Don’t move them much or tip them. Don’t go over and push the lids down to see if they’ve popped or not. Just let them do their thing. Before you crash out for the night check and make sure all the jars have sealed (center depressed downwards). Any that have not popped within several hours should be labelled and put into the fridge to be consumed first. The rest are now shelf stable and you can label them and stash them away for future use.

saffron and ginger jelly

Try it out. Canning is one of those “how to survive in case of Zombie Apocalypse” skills I felt I should probably master. This recipe is the most basic version of canning. Please remember that recipes for canning should always be followed. The amount of sugar or acidity in a recipe contributes to the final product being shelf stable at room temperature. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the method and process of canning before you try to make up recipes of your own. Always make sure you inspect a jar before you open and serve it to yourself or others. If it sketches you out for any reason do not consume it.

Canning is a lot of fun as well as a super satisfying way to store the bounty of the summer season. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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