I’ve always wanted to try canning - especially pickles which are John’s favourite. It’s one of those things people kept telling me was easy (and my favourite Christmas gifts are my Aunt’s pickled carrots) but I’ve always been a little intimidated to get started. When I got my hands on Bernardin’s beginner canning kit I had no excuse!
The kit had everything I needed to get started including mason jars, tools (which I learned were for lifting the hot & sterile jars and lids and removing bubbles), a funnel, pectin and a large pot to sterilize the jams and seal them. The kit also came with a DVD which I didn’t think we’d be able to watch but the Xbox came to the rescue! The only thing I needed to do was pick my recipe and get the ingredients.
For my first try at canning I decided to go with a simple strawberry jam. I picked up berries from my local farmer’s market, put in the DVD and followed it step by step. From start (cutting the berries) to finish (boiling the finished jams to seal them) it took me only about 30 minutes, not bad!
The kit included pectin, which I’ve never used before but was familiar with and had learned about in school (it's found in plants and can help to lower cholesterol). Pectin is similar to gelatin (it thickens things) but it’s completely vegan. Bernardin carries both sugar free and liquid varieties, as well as a pectin designed for freezer jams. I’m excited to play with these recipes and try some sugar free versions next.
I didn’t really know the difference between “canning” and just putting something in a mason jar. Here’s what I learned: with canning you boil the jars in order to seal and preserve them and for this reason the type of lids you use really matters. The Bernardin lids are high quality so you don’t have to worry about food safety or (as my Aunt told me she’s done) spoiling a whole batch!
The steps for a variety of recipes are included, for my strawberry jam I:
- Washed, cut & mashed the strawberries
- Boiled them with pectin, lemon juice & sugar
- Poured the jam into the jar using the funnel provided
- Sealed and boiled them
- 24 hours later… I had jam!
John devoured some on an English muffin with peanut butter! I’m excited to try using them in recipes, so far I’m thinking: strawberry jam chia pudding, thumbprint cookies and as a sauce for my banana ice cream!