Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chicken Stock and Strawberry Jam

I managed a pretty major accomplishment (for me) on Sunday afternoon and successfully canned a batch of strawberry jam! Having never canned on my own before, I'm pretty pleased with the results- every single jar sealed immediately, and it came out tasting great. We've been getting a lot of strawberries from our own backyard, but not enough to make a significant amount of jam, so we bought half a flat of local berries from a stand a few blocks from our house, and I used the strawberry jam recipe from the Ball Blue Book of Canning, except that I substituted in half a quart of raspberries from our bushes, because Matt prefers the mix of flavors over pure strawberry- and I have no argument!
 (Click on Photos to Enlarge)
 Strawberries waiting underneath our menu plan and a list of items to look for at thrift stores...

 The early stages, before adding the sugar.

 Sterilized jars waiting to be filled.

Ready for jars!

My only major trial was that I don't own an actual canning rack (since I use my 16-quart stock pot, standard canning racks are just too big) so I put this cooling rack in the bottom of the pot:

It served its purpose of keeping the jars off the hot bottom of the pot, but because it doesn't hold jars in place, the first jar I put in fell over and tipped the whole rack on a slant, and I had to quickly call in reinforcements (i.e. Matt) to hold the rack down with a long-handled spoon and keep the jar upright with tongs while I put in the rest! A bit of a balancing act, but it all worked out in the end.

 The finished product!

We sampled some for breakfast the next day, and I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the result!

Once the jam was done, I used the water in the canning kettle to make chicken stock, since we had had a roast chicken for Sunday dinner. With the water already hot, all I had to do was put in the carcass/bones, a bit of onion, a stick of celery, and some herbs and let it cook for an hour or so. Now, between good local meat, a big batch of stock, and lots of berries (half the flat got cut up and frozen), our freezer is packed with goodness:

I'm not a big fan of freezing things like stock in plastic containers, but all of our glass containers were in use and Matt had found a big stack of plastic freezer containers at a thrift store for $3, so until we can afford more Pyrex containers, we'll use these.

To freeze the berries (we've done both raspberries and strawberries), we lay them out on a baking sheet so they freeze without sticking to each other in big clumps, then transfer them into bags or containers once they are fully frozen. 

To top off all the food goodness, I got home late last night after a long day to find that not only had Matt been busy doing yard work, washing dishes, and generally being awesome, but he had a loaf of herb bread baking in the oven! It's the first time he's made bread entirely on his own, and it came out amazingly. I took some in my lunch today and wished I had brought twice as much, because I didn't want to stop eating it. I'm so proud of him, and also glad I am the one who got to benefit from this deliciousness:


DEB said...

Fresh bread and jam, now that's making me hungry!

FlowerLady said...

What a wonderfully productive time you are having. I've never canned anything. I don't know of anyone down here who does it either.

Matt's bread looks delicious!

Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady