Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Canning 101

I decided to post a tutorial/recipe on some lime marmalade I just made because before you know it, all the goodness of summer will be here and I will be canning all kinds of jams and jellies along with beans, tomatoes and who knows what else.  I figured it would be nice to ease you in to the canning thing because it can be kind of intimidating. 
Jams and jellies (and marmalades) are the easiest thing to can because you do not need a pressure cooker.  The acid and sugar in the mixture kills off anything hazardous so all you have to do is pour the boiling hot mix into freshly cleaned jars, screw on the lids and flip them over for a minute (this heats the rubber seal to soften it so the jars will seal properly). 
You will find tons of recipes inside the box of Sure Jellto try, but no recipe for anything lime.  As we have established, I LOVE lime, so naturally I had to devise a recipe.  It is an easy intro into canning, and you need to be ready because we will be doing a LOT of it this summer.  So get ready, put on your big girl panties and lets go!

Lime Marmalade
What you need:
5-6 limes
1-1/4 c. water
2-3/4 c. sugar
1/2 pkg. Sure-Jell
1/16 tsp. baking soda
4 jelly jars with rings
4 new lids

What you do:
Wash and dry the limes.  You will need about1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of zest, fruit and juice, so overestimate the amount of fruit you will need.  I used 6 decent sized limes and had the perfect amount (not sure how I managed that).

Zest all the limes into a bowl.  This sucks, I'm not gonna lie, but it is a great tricep workout (the fact that I think this is a workout explains a lot).

I even love the color of limes.

Fruit nudists.

Now you will peel and segment the naked limes.  Start by cutting a little off each end.  This will give you a sturdy lime.

Turn the lime on one end and use a sharp knife to cut off all the peel, being careful to leave as much fruit as possible behind.

Continue around until you have removed all the white pith.

Now cut out each segment.  Using a sharp knife, cut right beside one of the white segment dividers (I'm sure they have a name, clearly I don't know what that is).

Then cut along the inside of the divider directly across the segment.

This will give you all fruit with no membrane.  The pith and membrane of limes is VERY bitter so be sure to cut out just the fruit.

Once you remove all the segments, squeeze the pulp you have left, getting as much juice as possible out.

Repeat with the rest of the limes.

Add the fruit, juice and zest to the water and soda in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until reduced to about 2 cups.
While the fruit is cooking, get everything ready for the canning.  Start by washing the jars, rings and lids in hot soapy water.  Rinse well and dry.

It is VERY important to have everything ready before you start when you are canning.  Once you start, you cannot stop.  Set out the jars, lids and rings along with the amount of sugar you need already measured out, a ladle, stirring spoon, canning funnel, trivet, damp rag and Sure-Jell.  I set everything up on a towel because it can get sticky and you can throw a towel in the washer.

Lets make some marmalade!  Combine exactly 2 cups of fruit with the Sure-Jell (remember to only use 1/2 pack) in a large pot.

It is a good idea to use a much larger pot than you need.  You will be cooking this at a full rolling boil which can splatter so it is nice to have extra pot space between you and screaming hot sugar.

Before you start to heat the fruit, put the lids in a bowl with very hot water to get let the seals to soften a little while you make the marmalade.

The pictures of the actual cooking were a little tricky, so I apologize they all look like they were from Brigadoon.  Heat the fruit and Sure-Jell mixture over high heat to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  This means that even when stirring, it is still bubbling violently.

Dump in the sugar all at once and bring back to a full rolling boil.

Boil for exactly 1 minute.

Remove from heat to the trivet and immediately begin filling the jars.  A canning funnel makes this much easier and neater.  I found mine at Walmart for a couple of bucks.

Fill the jars to the bottom of the threads.

Quickly wipe the lip and threads of each filled jar with a damp cloth.

Top each jar with a dried lid and screw on a band.

Flip the jars upside down for about 10 minutes, then flip back right side up.

Make sure your rings are still on tight and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.  As the jars cool, you may hear a popping sound when the buttons on the top of each lid pop down and seal.  After 24 hours, run your finger across the top of each jar to be sure the button is down.  If a jar did not seal, put it in the fridge and use it first.  I have never had this happen and if you follow the directions, odds are you will not have this problem either.  Remove the screw bands on the sealed jars, and store in a cool spot until ready to use.  Once opened, store in the fridge.

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