Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Group Canning, Strawberry Jam Edition

So my hippie mama friends and I have been kicking around the idea of doing some group canning sessions.  We wanted to find a way to maximize the awesome aspects of canning and minimize the hassles and get to hang out together and not stay up until 3 in the morning canning.  Yesterday was our first attempt.  It went well.  We are working on refining the process, but all in all, today was a successful day.

First, Ellis got us started with playing his own canning game in our living room.

Then the main event began.  Most of our berries came from Olive Berry Acres, near Mazon, IL, and the Logan Square Farmers Market.

The kids "helped", which is to say, they ate food and played and only occasionally hit each other.

Here are the details.  We decided beforehand what would be canned, which recipe we would use, and who would bring what.  The lovely and talented Venessa hosted.  There were 6 of us canning, plus an addition friend there to learn and lend some supplies.  Of the 6 primary canners, we'd all canned before.  The 6 of us brought 2-ish quarts of fresh berries each.  Kim had made a Costco run for sugar and lemon juice.   She also brought jars.  Anne brought pectin and jars.  The rest of us provided canners, pots & pans, and propane burners.

We cleaned and hulled the berries in the kitchen.  We also made the actual jam in the kitchen on the stovetop.  (Because of how busy we were, pictures are sporadic.  And the pictures of the jam in the pot pretty much look like spaghetti sauce, which is weird.)

After the jam was made (special shout-out to Anne and myself, who did the lions'  share of the stirring) we transferred the boil-y pots to Venessa's garage where we filled and processed the jars.  In the garage, we had three propane burners and water bath canners set up.  We also had a big, giant work table for filling jars.

When all was said and done, we each took home 4 1/2 pints of beautiful strawberry jam (and not a moment too soon since our household is currently using our last jar of jam from 2011).  Anne created a spreadsheet to keep track of expenses and make sure the money stuff evens out.  We're pretty proud of our planning and execution.  Next time we do this, we'll have a lot of knowledge to work from.  We'll likely establish more stations for prepping, jamming, jarring, and canning.  And we'll need one person sort of coordinating everything.  A Cruise Director of canning, if you will.

Some jar porn for your viewing pleasure.

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