I remember when I was a little girl, my mother did a lot of canning. I remember jars of juicy peaches, crunchy dill pickles, and endless varieties of jams. I remember the huge canning pot rumbling with boiling water on the stovetop, and the satisfying sound of popping lids on the jars as they cooled on the counter. Best of all, I remember the taste of homemade jam on warm bread, fresh out of the oven. To me, there is nothing that reminds me more of home than bread and jam made lovingly by hand.
I’d been wanting to try canning for a long time, to recreate that special part of my childhood, so I finally decided this would be the summer I would make jam for the first time. We went to Emma Lea Farms and picked strawberries earlier in the summer, and I had jam in mind for them. I froze the berries, hoping for a weekend when my mom was free to take the ferry over from the Island to help me make them into jam. I thought I would need her help, because the canning part seemed too complicated and daunting to me to do on my own.
Then I was contacted by Food Bloggers of Canada to review this new cookbook by a fellow Canadian food blogger, Amy Bronee of Family Feedbag, called “The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes.” My mom was heading off to Newfoundland for a large part of the summer, so I figured I’d see if I could master canning on my own, with the help of this new cookbook.
As a read through the book, I became increasingly confident that I could really do this by myself. The instructions were simple and straightforward enough that even a canning newbie like me could follow them without problem. One of the things I found daunting about canning was sterilizing the jars. I wondered — when do I need to sterilize the jars, and how do I do it properly so that I don’t poison my family? But I was relieved to learn that as long as the processing time is over 10 minutes, you don’t actually need to sterilize your jars first. Luckily, all the recipes in this cookbook require at least 10 minutes of processing time, so all you need to do is make sure your jars are clean before you start. I ran mine through the dishwasher on a normal cycle first, and that was all I needed to do to prepare the jars for canning.
The book gives a list of what equipment you must have, as well as some equipment that’s nice to have but not essential. I got what I needed, and started making strawberry jam from the cookbook. It was a perfect recipe for a first-time canner, with not too many ingredients or steps.
Once I finished the canning process, I set the jars on the counter to cool and crossed my fingers for that popping sound to signal that the jars have sealed. One by one, the lids began to pop! Let me tell you, I was so excited to hear that sound! There were a few lids that took a lot longer to pop than the others, and at first I was worried they weren’t going to, but by the time the jars had fully cooled, every last one of the jars had sealed. Amazing!
I was so proud of myself for successfully making jam, even though the rest of my family didn’t really understand what the big deal was. Whatever. I still thought it was pretty awesome.
Cole has been dabbling with baking lately, so he made a loaf of soda bread to go with my jam. I’m very amazed that he’s not even 9 yet and already baking pretty much on his own! Gold stars to both of us for being so awesome with our homemade bread and jam. And a big gold star to Amy Bronee, too, for making my homemade jam possible.
The Canning Kitchen is now available online at Amazon, if you want to try it for yourself.
I’m doing this post as part of the FBC Canning Kitchen Blogging Tour, with other Canadian food bloggers who are sharing their thoughts on this new cookbook. And here’s the best part — we’re all giving away copies of The Canning Kitchen, so be sure to visit all the participating blogs for more chances to win!
Here’s your chance to win a copy of Amy Bronee’s cookbook “The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes.” This contest is open to Canadian residents only, and will run from Aug 11 to Aug 25 2015. Good luck!
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Canning Kitchen from Penguin Random House Canada Limited for the purpose of this blog post. All opinions are my own.