Filling Life Goals and Jam Jars Simultaneously

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Day 23

Monday started off pretty rough for all involved – our cat wailed periodically throughout the night, knocked over a vase of sunflowers and then stepped in and out of my coffee this morning (don’t worry, I take it with half and half, so no burnt cat paws) and tracked little cream colored puddles across the computer desk, and our dog puked in his crate. At this point, all animals are fine and back to their normal routines – Winston is running around like a crazy person joyfully throwing his toys in the air and Theo is glaring at the dog from his hiding spot on the bookshelf.

In spite of this morning’s craziness, this week I’m looking at happiness through new experiences. According to my favorite friend science, people report feeling happier remembering experiences versus material purchases, i.e. that day of skiing totally beat out that boxed True Blood set despite costing roughly the same. With that in mind, I’ve chosen seven activities from my List that I’m going to cross off by Sunday. Kind of a two birds, one stone thing. Today’s activity is making jam.

Maybe it has something to do with living in Northampton, MA for so long, but for a few years now I’ve really wanted to try canning something. However, I’m intimidated by the possibility of botulism – it’s a nerve toxin that can be spread through improperly canned food. Granted, it’s a very small percentage and jars do have the safety pop-top in place – which is why if a jar, homemade or store-bought, doesn’t “pop” when you open it, throw it away, it could be bad – proper canning still makes me nervous. But, because freezer jam is stored at freezing temperatures I do not have to boil jars or worry about being paralyzed. Everyone wins!

I started thinking about making our own spicy jam a little after Christmas. My awesome sister-in-law bought us some tasty blackberry jalapeño jam from Pike Place Market as a gift and it was amazing. We ate that jam on toast, with goat cheese, spread it on crackers and I may have eaten it from the jar. A week later, it was a sad day when we finished it off. I’m hoping ours comes out just as good!

Here are my go-to resources for this project:

Freezer Jam: A Baby Step to Canning by Stephanie Stiavetti
Raspberry Jalapeno Freezer Jam (I did leave out the apple cider vinegar and reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups as per the pectin packet directions)

Shopping List

  • 6 oz – 8 oz canning jars – I picked the small, straight jars because I read that as the jam freezes it expands and if the jar has curves, that can up the possibility of breakage in the freezer. I’m a newbie, though, so I could be wrong. Just in case though, I put my jars in ziplock bags to contain the mess if there’s any exploding…
  • 1 packet freezer pectin – I found this at QFC but I imagine you could find it at Stop n Shop or Whole Foods for you East Coaster’s.
  • 36 oz frozen raspberries – this equals three 12 oz bags at Trader Joe’s
  • 1 cup of finely chopped jalapeños – about 6 or 7 jalapeños and are sold in a package at Trader Joe’s
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

You should definitely follow Stephanie’s instructions at the bottom of the article. I’ve included my own here, but Stephanie is definitely more experienced. Directions are also, handily, included on the freezer pectin packet, too.

First, wash your jars and lids while the berries defrost for a bit. Let the jars dry and prepare your jalapeños.

week 4 chopped jalapenos

Just like preparing a bell pepper, make sure you carve away the white bits and rinse out the seeds. Next, chop very finely. I cut each jalapeño into strips and then diced them as small as I possibly could and then diced some more. It almost looked like relish when I was finally done.

Mash the raspberries and jalapeños together with a potato masher.

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In a separate bowl, combine the pectin and sugar before adding to the raspberry mixture. This helps make sure the distribution is as even as possible. Mix continuously for three minutes to prevent gross jam-lumps from forming.

Once that’s done, get ready to fill your jars!

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I filled them up using a large silverware spoon. Tap or stir a little to remove any air bubbles. *IMPORTANT* Make sure you leave about 3/4 of an inch at the top to allow the jam to expand as it freezes. If you overfill, you could end up with an exploding jam container. To be on the safe side, I put my jars in gallon ziplock bags to potentially contain any sticky glass shards if they do explode.

week 4 monday

After you put them in the freezer, the final step is licking the bowl or, if you’re civilized, the spoon.

I’ll let you know how the jam is tomorrow. Have a good Monday everyone!

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