This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
A few years ago we went to visit relatives who lived in a little house on a little farm in a little Texas town. They’re good country folk; the kind who never miss church on Sunday, insist you stay with them even though there’s hardly any room, and feed you thick sliced bacon and veggies straight from the garden. While there we ate the tastiest hot house cucumbers and the most delicious purple hull peas that she had canned herself. She sent us home with a few jars of purple hull peas, tomatoes, and preserves. That’s when I knew I wanted to try my hand at canning. Only problem was it seemed too hard, so I just pushed that interest to the back of my mind where all the other cool hobby ideas get shoved.
Skip forward a bit to this summer and I’m working on a list of fun things my kids and I can do together. I’m wanting to make memories with them but all I’m coming up with are basic summer mom activities: go to the splash pad, have movie night, make homemade slime, dress up like a cow for cow appreciation day so we can get our free nuggets (southern friends, y’all know what I’m talking about!), etc. Then a light bulb went off. Literally. Someone left the pantry light on so I turned it off. As I did I looked at the food and saw a bag of dried beans which reminded me of those amazing purple hull peas which opened that little corner of my mind that held my interest in canning. Boom! Added that to our super fabulous summer fun ideas list.
Y’all…Ball® makes canning fun. And easy. And delicious. I’m feeling like a modern day Suzy homemaker. I’ve impressed myself. Ha! We had a blast working together and an even better time enjoying the fruits of our labor. (Pun intended!) I mean, homemade mixed berry jam spread on warm biscuits fresh from the oven? Yes, please! All you need are a few tools to get started: a canning pot, canning utensils, and half pint mason jars. The canning pot is huge and it comes with a perfectly fitted ring inside. The reason this is so important is because if your jars come in contact with the pot while in the boiling water, they can possibly shatter. No bueno. You don’t have to worry about that with the canning pot, though. The utensil kit comes with four pieces: a mason jar lifter to get the jars in and out of the water, a magnetic lid lifter to do the same for the lids, a canning funnel which makes it easier to put the contents into the jars, and a headspace and bubble remover tool to remove air bubbles and make sure you have enough space for expansion. Ball® mason jars are available in quite a few different sizes but we used half pint because they’re not too big and not too small…they’re just right, Goldilocks!
Our mixed berry jam recipe calls for four cups of fresh crushed berries. We used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries but you can use whatever berry combo you’d like. Camden was the designated berry crusher, a job she performed with gusto. Much gusto. That girl got a little carried away with the potato masher and there was berry juice flying all over the place. I was like, “Slow your roll, sister…crush those berries carefully!” We got it under control and she did an amazing job. I couldn’t have asked for a better berry crusher! While she was working on that I put the jars in the water bath to warm them up.
Simmering and Stirring
Once the berries were crushed, but not too crushed, we dumped them in a saucepan and added some Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin and brought it to a boil. We boiled it and stirred it and then added in sugar. Don’t worry, it was organic sugar. That counts for something, right?! Once again, we boiled it and stirred it. Lucky for us we didn’t have to stir very long so our arms didn’t get tired. Like I said, Ball® has made this whole deal super easy!
Here’s where the mason jar lifter came in handy. I used it to pull the warmed jars out of the pot and put them on a towel covered cutting board. I popped the funnel right into a jar and ladled my cooked berries in easy peasy. Hardly any mess. The recipe says it makes about six jars but I was only able to fill four. And no, it wasn’t because I ate some straight out of the pot. Although I could have. I could have poured those warm berries over some homemade vanilla ice cream and been a very satisfied woman! But I didn’t. I stayed strong. 😉 I used the other tool to remove air bubbles and make sure I had 1/4 inch headspace. Then I wiped the edges of the jars to make sure they were clean, put the lids and bands on them, and used that lifter to put them back into the canning pot. I processed the filled jars, which is a fancy way of saying I let them sit in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, took them out and let them cool.
Mixed Berry Jam
Voila! We just small batch canned mixed berry jam. We are officially canners! Watch out cause I might start canning all the things! And trust me, if we can CAN, so CAN you! (See what I did there? lol) I have some links for you to help you get started. Here is the recipe we used for mixed berry jam. Ball® even offers adorable custom jar gift tags that you can print and use (click on the recipe link and scroll all the way down). Canning is fun and addictive so once you’re ready to start canning all the things like me, this book is a must.
Have you canned before? Tell me what you’ve made! If not, give it a try and impress your friends, and their tastebuds, with your new vintage chic skills!