Monday, September 08, 2008

A jarring experience


My neighbor has a fig tree. Right over the back fence. Which means that I have a fig tree spilling over my back fence. And I mean that, SPILLING. I'm not complaining, but as the figs ripen, they drop and make a nasty gooey mess all over the yard that attracts insects and is a mess.

So I decided to do something with them. The first year the tree didn't do much and I picked all 20 and made some jam. THE second year the tree did a lot more and I made more jam and some desserts.

This year it seems out of control! I still have jam left over from last year in the freezer. I don't have much more room in my freezer for more jam. What will i do!?!

I decided to do some home canning.

First things first I had to visit four stores. To find jars. This is Los Angeles not Mayberry R.F.D. but I found them. And in a fit of over-reaching, bought two boxes of small jars for a grand total of 24 jars.

Here is the full recipe from Epicurious.com

1/2 lemon (unpeeled), thickly sliced, seeded
1 1/2 pounds fresh ripe figs, halved (about 4 cups)
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 1/4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation:
Finely chop lemon in processor. Add figs. Using on/off turns, process until figs are coarsely pureed. Transfer mixture to heavy large saucepan. Add 2 1/4 cups sugar, cinnamon stick, 2 1/4 teaspoons minced ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Simmer until mixture thickens to jam consistency and candy thermometer registers 200°F, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Divide hot preserves among hot clean jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 months.

And then where I went with it...

I am not a big fan of ginger, so I dropped that from all the batches. I didn't have fresh ground cloves, so I substituted a splash of "pumpkin pie spices" which had cloves and cinnamon already in it. I still did the cinnamon stick however.

In the first batch I took out the half lemon and put in a whole orange (seeded) peel and all. It is tasty in the winter with pork chops, very fall flavorful.
Mixed Berry Batch on stove

Second batch I had some strawberries about to turn bad. I cleaned them up and since I was adding so much more fruit, I did a whole lemon (seeded) peel and all, then added about 2 pints of strawberries.

Third time at the pot I had blackberries. I've been craving blackberries for a whole month so I had them right here on hand. Again I did a whole lemon since I was adding so much more fruit. I only had a pint of fresh blackberries, so I added a bag of frozen. "MORE! MORE!" was my rallying cry.

(two days later I did a fourth batch of the figs left int eh fridge and any fruit left in the fridge which were blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. I call it my medley.

Hot fruit in pot, I placed my recently sterilized in the dishwasher jars in a cake pan and poured boiling water around them for a hot water bath. I placed a funnel in the top and began my ladling. Jars full, I placed the lids on the clean jars and used my heavy leather barbecue gloves to pick up the jars and give them the tightening of their lives. I repeated this process until I was out of jars.
Hot water bath with funnel

The jars were placed on a cooling rack and we spent the next 2 hours listening to the delightful "pop" of each lid being sucked down to a perfect tight seal.
Orange, Strawberry, Blackberry

Since I put all of this in JARS why is it called CANNING?

6 comments:

Christina said...

I admire you Jim - enjoy your yummies.

Christopher said...

Wow...you got skills!!!

A Lewis said...

And, speaking of Mayberry RFD, may I be the first to recognize you for exactly the woman you are: Aunt Bea! (I must say, that someone called Portland "Mayberry" a while back....)

Rachel said...

My gramma would have been proud! She used to use a pressure cooker to do that sort of thing.

The T-Dude said...

I miss that. We used to can when I was a kid. Tomatoes mostly, but other stuff too.

dit said...

Jim, you are so handy. My friends at times refer to me as Martha, as in Ms. Stewart. But you really do some amazing things. Sounds and looks delicious. Nice one!