At the beginning of last year I began to realize how much working two (three) jobs was making me unhappy. With no time to work on the cabin or this blog or anything important really I just felt like everything in my life has fallen behind. Two months into 2015 I was miserable. I didn’t want to do the cold long drive to town fighting logging truck drivers and early morning mill worker drivers. I dreaded it. I decided I needed to do something else. It wasn’t working anymore.
I gave notice at my jobs that at the end of 2015 I didn’t want to be there anymore. That’s not to say that there wasn’t times during the year that I wasn’t happy, I met a lot of beautiful people this past year through my jobs, made beautiful food, crafted beautiful things.
My last day was two weeks ago.
I stayed late and took full advantage of the amenities of a commercial kitchen.
I made jam.
I’ve also been learning new (to me) things about jam. About pretty copper pots, satanic commercial pectin and about how the quality of the sugar you use effects your finished product (duh). I thought I was good at making jam. I peeled the skins off (not knowing why I couldn’t just keep them on) I, like what I thought other good homesteaders did, used a lot of pectin. I didn’t know what it was. It was called for in recipes and I didn’t question it. I used plain ole white sugar, and I used a LOT of it. Recently I came across a small business that advertised NEVER using commercial pectin. Wait, what.
My homestead senses were tingling. I started researching. I got ridiculously excited about jam. I felt like a friggin preserving rebel. My idea of canning has become revolutionized.
Seriously, here’s a great read about some of it.
Over this past summer, I’ve accumulated boxes and boxes of mason jars. I also acquired a camper. A perfect place to house my over-sized collection of mason jars.
Also I’ve been drawn to canning design. I spent twenty dollars on a mason jar stamp.
Canning literally feels like equal parts science and magic.
I’ve lost my god damn mind.
Rosemary, Pear & Cranberry Chutney
6 1/2 lbs peeled, cubed pears
(I peeled mine this time because I think of all the people that touched the pears before I got to them, not to mention they were a bit scuffed up on the skin. I used 1/4 unripened pears, and 3/4 ripe pears – unripened pears contain more naturally occurring pectin.
6 cups of organic unrefined sugar
5 cups of dried cranberries
sprigs of fresh rosemary
Put all the ingredients in a large pot, except for the rosemary. You want your pot large enough that the contents don’t come up more than 3 inches. Unless you have a swanky copper pot, then run wild. Bring the sugary fruity mess to a boil and bring it down to a medium heat. You want the jam to stay at a rolling boil, you don’t want out of control lava burning your hands and arms while you try and stir.
Keep a good attitude. Nobody wants to be in a kitchen with a cranky bitch that’s caught up in taking things too seriously. Have a little fun. Put on some music and enjoy what your doing.
Once you feel like the moisture has cooked out of it and your jam has reduced, bust out the vitamix (the one in the commercial kitchen yo) and blend the jam. It’s okay to have chunks of fruit remaining. Just think of them as little surprises you’ll find later in the jar.
Run the jars through the sanitizer (that commercial kitchen though) or in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Fill the jars with fruity goodness and leave about a 1cm from the top. I shoved sprigs of rosemary in at this point and wiped away my spilly pouring with a clean wet cloth. I imagine this won’t make the jars that shelf stable but I don’t care that much as I can’t seem to stop eating this stuff on crackers with brie since I made it. Put the lids on and turn the rims finger tight. Put the filled jars in a hot boiling water bath and process for ten – twelve minutes. Take them out and let cool on a clean towel. And let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. I keep my jars in a cool place as I don’t have a fridge, I haven’t died yet.
I gave some out as gifts during the holidays. Festive merry, ho ho.