Jam is very easy to make. I've taught a lot of people how to make it and invariably the response is, "That's it?" Yes. That's really it. It's not that hard, it just seems complicated because most of us don't can food anymore. Honestly I don't even make that much these days. Now that the kids are older and most of them out of the house we just don't go through jelly, jam, chutneys, and pickles the way we used to. So I tend to save my efforts for the more expensive items. Like cherries.
I need one because, first it takes a doggone long time to pit five pounds of cherries. Second if you've ever tried to get cherry juice out of a white blouse you'll appreciate that my fingernails look none too clean for at least a day or two afterwards.
Another challenge is trying to pit the cherries without attracting the attention of other people in the house. Invariably five pounds of cherries turns into a fair amount less after certain unnamed people start eating them faster than you can pit them.
Ball Blue Book which is a great resource for recipes and information on preserving all kinds of things.
My other favorite canning/preserving book are:
- Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader
- Preserving Memories by Judy Glattstein (and not just because she's my mom, it really is a great book)
- Stocking Up by Carol Hupping
Once you've created jam you put it into sterilized jars, hot water bath it and then you're done. One of my favorite sounds is the little plinking noises made by the lids sealing after their hot water bath.
The jars will keep for up to two years in the pantry. Each time we take one out and eat it we are reminded of the sweet, juicy taste of summer. Believe me, in the middle of winter the hot, steam-filled kitchen and huge pots a-boiling on the stove are a far distant memory. It's all worth it.