It’s starting to look like…

…like Spike got a new football jersey!  (because his old one was too small).  And he is HAP-PY.

School’s back in session, the football stadium PA system is back up and running (you can hear it from our house, Spike flips every time, so that’s fun), and on Sunday I ran for over an hour with J and didn’t even feel like I was going to keel over and die from heat.  I put a SWEATSHIRT on Saturday morning.

You know what all of this means.  Fall’s coming.

And what do you do during the fall in Kentucky (aside from chase bourbon and line up for Midnight Madness so you can live in a tent on campus for a week before the acutal event)?

Make jam!  (I know it’s still August, but Paul’s working 24 hour shifts and I figured it’d be good practice.)

So, full disclosure, these are not our strawberries.  Our strawberry bush in the back of the yard suffered the same tininess problem as our raspberries this year.  So these came from the farmers market.

First step was to pull out and dust off the country living bible.

It has about 30 recipes for various types of jams, jellies, and preserves.  Of course. Strawberry jam had 2 ingredients and 4 steps.  Decision made.

We already had all the gear (big pot, lids, tops, jars, tongs, rack, etc) which had been used for a lot of pickling.  But no preserves yet.

First, wash.  Then hull.

First attempt I tried to hull with the apple corer.  Stupid.  Don’t do that.  Use a butter knife.

Then you take the berries and you mash ’em, you mash ’em (Molly, name that song.)

Then it’s time for ingredient #2: sugar!  Mix some of that in.

Try not to lose your spoon in the mush.

Then comes the fun part: dump the whole thing in a pot…

..and start stirring.

Stir and stir and stir some more, so it doesn’t burn, until it starts to boil.  Then…keep stirring!

During this time I started sterilizing the jars and lids.  Also started boiling the big pot of water for the final sterilization process. Also realized why this is a cold weather activity (I was sweating profusely.)

Then, when the jam was thick (almost an hour and a half of stirring later….seriously.  Fortunately my sister in law gave me the password for her HBO GO so I could watch Girls the whole time), I pulled the jars and lids out of the oven, dumped the jam in them jars, screwed the lids on (but not super tight), and threw them in the boiling water for 10 minutes.

The water should be about 2 inches above the top of the jars (so ignore that big one sticking out).  Then took them out for the REALLY exciting part, where you hear the jars suction themselves shut as they cool.


It looks a little…foamy.  Maybe I was supposed to scrape that off the top?  Reading directions has never been my forte.  We’ll find out when we taste it.

For those of you who don’t own The Book and want more sophisticated instructions than “mash the berries and stir”, there are a million recipes online (like here and here and here, from my friend Neeley.)


And…we did.  Another exciting Friday night at our house.

I came home from work a few weeks ago to veggies, jars, and vinegar on the counter, samurai movies on TV…

…and Paul having a great time.

When he was in Costa Rica this past July the mother of the house where he was staying made this special chili (I’m blanking on the name…basically some sort of pickled onions and peppers) to put on their gallo pinto.  Paul was obsessed.   So, of course, it was the first thing he tried to can.

A little history: Paul had attempted to make kimchi when we lived in San Francisco, and it was one of the more disgusting experiments I’ve ever had the opportunity to witness.  So I was/am skeptical.

ANYWAY!  How does it work?

First, get a magazine or book like above (I found that at Meijer) devoted to the art of canning and preserves.  You will also need a big pot:

Some mason jars (which you can reuse):

Metal screw bands (which you can also reuse) and lids (which need to be new):

A jar funnel:

And a special pair of tongs to pick up the jars (note: all of this stuff, except for the lids, came in a canning kit I found at the local hardware store.)

Wash the jars and the lids, fill the big pot with water and bring it to a boil.

Fill the jars with whatever it is you’re canning (in this case, chopped carrots, onions, a few types of peppers, and vinegar…jams are a lot more complicated than just slicing and pouring), screw on the lids nice and tight and use the tongs to place the cans into the big pot of boiling water.

And let the jars sterilize:

After about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the jar), take them out of the pot and let them cool off for a few hours.  This is where all the excitement happens: you can hear the jars suctioning shut as they cool.  Paaar-tay.

After that, they’re done!

…and, in this case, ready to sit for a while while they ferment.   Ta da!  Some sort of chili to put on beans.

Update to follow on how it tastes.