Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Even Cowgirl Cash can make jam.

The Pilot House, Ocean Park, WA.

Prettiest hydrangea ever and blue sky and ocean beyond!

Our last hurrah before school started this year was a trip to the family beach house. It's the perfect place to cool down from Bend's heat, celebrate Teddy's late August birthday, and enjoy the last of summer at a slow pace.  This trip has been on the books for months and in the back of my mind I've been planning to make blackberry jam.  I've made jam twice before this trip and both times have been with my girlfriend Suzanne.  She brings her expertise, her "equipment" and her enthusiasm and we get busy.  This time however, I was on my own. The beach offers time for the activity, a cooler kitchen, and seasonal berries.  Blackberries abound here. However, I only picked a few of these precious and prickly berries.  The rest I bought at a roadside stand and I had to ask for them.  The young girl was out back picking them at the time, and I bought all they had.

Here is Cowgirl Cash's "wanna be" jam makers how to guide...Trust me it's EASY.

1. Start with a 1/2 flat of berries. I used blackberries and the flat cost me $16.
2. Assemble your tools and ingredients.

3. You need "pectin", sugar, jars, and lids. You can buy everything you need at Bi-Mart in Bend, and at Jack's Country store in Ocean Park, WA. (also Safeway) The lids consist of rings and the flat lids you can see in the above picture.  My jars were "regular" sized lids as opposed to "wide mouth". Don't assume you have enough sugar at home.  Jam takes a lot of sugar. The paper, (next to my readers) are the instructions that come in the pectin box.  That's what I used.  It has instructions for almost every imaginable fruit jam.

 4. All of the tools above come in handy and I now keep them all together in my jam pot, (along with the jars as we finish our jam). A funnel for getting the jam into jars, a long handled wooden spoon, a flat slotted spoon for "skimming" foam from the hot cooked jam and a measuring cup for measuring sugar and crushed berries.

5. This is my big jam pot.  It's not for the berries, it's for sealing the jars. The metal ring at the right cradles the jam jars in the pot.

6. The secret to successful jam making is following the instructions to the letter.  That is not my strong point, but I can do it if a have someone working with me to keep me straight.  I read the instructions over and over. Measure crushed berries, not whole, pre-measure the sugar into another bowl, start the huge pot of water boiling early, sterilize the jars and lids, use a timer, adjust the time if you are at higher elevation.  It's all important.  But trust me, it's all EASY.

7. Luci dropping jam into the hot pot with tongs.

 8. Timing the process is very important!

Ahh, the satisfaction of  your own winters supply of jam.  We've already given away 2 jars, and eaten 1/2 of another. I hope this little tutorial motivates you to try jam making.  It's EASY, really

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