My happy jam-making experience last summer—with homemade strawberry, blueberry and tomato jam—had me looking forward to getting out the canning pot and jars all over again. For a household of two people, we managed to go through quite a few pints (and jars of homemade jam made good gifts all year, too).
Last year, I was a jam-canning virgin, so I stayed in familiar territory and processed my concoctions in Ball pint jars, including the adorable Ball Elite pint jars. This year, I decided to give the supercute Weck jars a try.
I was familiar with canning in Ball jars, with the familiar band-and-lid closure. Weck jars, on the other hand, have glass lids and rubber gaskets that are secured during processing with stainless-steel clamps. I’ve used Weck jars for making pretty desserts and for pantry storage. But I’d read somewhere that they were a little tricky to use for canning. My experience proved otherwise; I found both Weck and Ball jars equally easy to use.
Which isn’t to say that canning isn’t a complex process; it is. And my strawberry jam project wasn’t without its hiccups. I made two errors, both easily remedied:
First, I didn’t have enough fruit. It’s soooooo weird: I purchased a full gallon bucket of sweet Carolina strawberries at the Asheville, NC, farmers’ market last weekend. Surely, a gallon of berries would yield the 4 cups of crushed fruit I needed for jam. But no, I was short. [Not sure how that happened. Ahem.] So I raided the freezer for a bag of blackberries I’d put up last summer, and voila. My 4 cups of crushed fruit.
Second, I mistakenly assumed I could stack the jars 2 high in my tall, slim fourth-burner pot and process 2 at a time. Shoulda tried that first to be sure the pot was deep enough. Not so. I regrouped and put a wider pot on to boil (with a silicone potholder in the bottom in lieu of a canning rack), and the day was saved. Ten minutes in a boiling water bath, and we’re done.
I missed hearing the lovely ppppinkkkk that you get when a Ball jar seals up. But when I went to test the seal on my Weck mini mold jars (by removing the clamps and checking that the lid is seated firmly), I got the same nerdy pleasure of knowing the process had worked.