Monday, July 13, 2009

Canning in Someone Else's House

If you're like me, you're very territorial about your kitchen. I have a hard time sharing. But by the same token, I have a hard time cooking in someone else's kitchen. I am willing to try, though. Today's saga is about making black raspberry jam in my in-laws' kitchen.

Morning time, cue the birds, the sunshine, and the over eager mother waking up her 7 year old with, "get up get up get up, there are berries out there!" "*Groan* Okay, okay..." We recruited my father-in-law and the 3 of us went to get black raspberries. (These don't grow around our place, therefore I HAD to can some.) We went out and spent a lovely morning picking, netting about 8 pounds of berries.After dropping the berries, the 7 year old, and the father-in-law back at the house, I went to the store and bought 2 flats of jars, Certo, and sugar. Now for the hard part - adapting to different equipment. My in-laws brought out a selection of very nice pots and I picked the 2 largest. No canning rack? Use the bands! Oh, wait, that won't work when I want to put the bands on the jars after filling them. Hmmm. Open the other flat. OK. But there are 14 jars to fill and only 12 bands not in the pot. Well, I'll worry about that later.

The jars are simmering, the jam is being made (used 1/2 of the berries to make a double batch of jam) and I'm looking around for something to use to get the jars in and out of the makeshift canner. I settle on a flat perforated metal thing, kinda like a spatula but round, and barbecue tongs.

Jam's done! I set the pot in the sink as this was the safest place for it. They have an electric stove so I couldn't just set a towel and jars down next to the canner on the stovetop. I fish all the jars out and use the flat metal thing to get the lids out of the pot, too. I vaguely wonder how the jars are going back in, since the bands have shifted, the tongs work best if you stick them into the jars, and it's all really, really hot. OK. Ready. Funnel?

No funnel. That's OK! I used to make jam without all this stuff! I can do it! I ladle some jam into the first jar. And down the outsides. Slow down, be more careful next time. I can do this.

I pour an entire ladleful of jam into...the dish towel.

Mad scramble ensues to clean up enough so the countertop doesn't stain...much. (Sorry!)

Somehow I manage to get all 14 jars filled. We even dug up a couple of extra bands so I could get them all closed. There was just a little left in the pot that could easily have been another jar, but 14 was all that would fit in the largest pot so I decided to just keep it in tupperware. Good thing, too. The next hurdle was getting all these jars back into the boiling water.

I put in 1, gingerly, using the tongs and the flat metal thing to support the bottom of the jar. Sat it perfectly overlapping 2 bands. Great! I put the second one in, still moving slowly. I turn to get the third. The first 2 fall over in the hot water. Aaah! I try to move faster. Ultimately I ended up with 6 jars stacked like fallen dominos in the water, and I just can't get them to stand upright because the bands scoot out from underneath. I know that if I can just cram them all in there, I can get them upright again. Now what? I'm wishing I was Krishna or something, with many arms.

Enter my father-in-law. He very helpfully used 2 more cooking utensils to push the jars upright while I quickly and carefully dropped a few more jars in. Finally, the pot was full and the jars were no longer falling over. Yay!

There was one jar left on the countertop.


  1. I don't think I would ever try canning without all the "proper" equipment. Mostly because I hate improvising unless I absolutely have to. Sad to say, I'd have probably made freezer jam. Which I don't even like that much.


  2. Now I'm very happy you didn't decide to make peach jam (or whatever) at my house!

  3. You're braver than I am. I want everything laid out just right before I start canning.

    Love your blog. I'll be back.

  4. I opened the penultimate jar today. It is lovely.


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