If you garden, you'll likely have to start canning once the freezer is full. That's how I started. We bought our first home with enough room for a decent garden at the side, and suddenly there were beans and tomatoes. Lots of beans and tomatoes. No one on either Hub's side of the family or mine ever canned anything, so armed with a copy of a Ball Blue Book, and another book called "Putting Food By", I dove in. Made plenty of messes, got a few splatter burns, but turned out lots of good food in jars. I wrote copy in an ad agency in those days, and the owner's wife, Josie Renner, shared her bread and butter pickle recipe and a lot of old-fashioned canning tips with me back then. While Josie Renner is long gone, I like to think that she knows how much her pickles are still loved 30 years later. I was lucky to find a good canning mentor. Now you can Google excellent canning instructions, though it isn't the same as having a real person to help you.
This year, everyone seems to be making strawberry jam, a worthy endeavor indeed, but around here, strawberries are just about kaput for the local season. The peach season is coming up fast, though, and if your garden is at all like mine, just about the only crop with NO insect or animal munching on it is hot peppers. This jam is a triple delight; sweet, spicy and just a bit boozy. It's also quick to make, and if you are just starting out as a home-canner, it'll make you look like a real pro. The only down side is that everyone will love it so much, they'll expect it every year, so be sure to stash a jar or two for yourself.
|Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Jam|
Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Jam
Notes: Leave out the pepper seeds for a less hot end result, for even less heat cut back to two peppers without seeds. Some of the technique and most the proportions here are straight off the pectin package; don’t fool around with that or your jam won’t set up properly. Fiddle with it and you’ll end up with Peach Jalapeno Bourbon Syrup, not Jam. Ask me how I’ve learned this. Ahem.
If you don’t have a food processor, coarsely hand-chop your peaches and peppers, cook with everything except the pectin until soft, and run through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Then bring back to a hard boil and add the pectin and proceed as in step 4. Won’t be as “purty” but it’ll taste swell.
Two canning tools that will make your life easier: A water bath canning pot and a set of canning tools.