Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cherry Jelly - Adventures in Canning!

Woo-Hoo! I got the cherry jelly made! Fourteen jars!  I would have never done this if I hadn't bought the steam juicer. 

I made jelly once before years ago - pomegranate jelly.  Ugh, that was an icky time consuming mess.  And we didn't care all that much for it.   I swore I would never make jelly again after that.

It takes a while for the steamer to juice the cherries, 1 - 1 1/2 hours. But, I didn't have to stand over the stove and fuss over it. So I worked on other things (like my "Desert Wind banner) while waiting on the steam juicer.  After the juice was ready, the jelly was quick to make.  Okay, I forgot to take a picture of the steam juicer set up (next time), but I got a picture washing the cherries. . .

The recipe I used is  from the "Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving".  I'm using 2006 edition, which is the most current up-to-date edition.

It has the only recipe I could find for sweet cherry jelly.  Most of the jelly recipes I found called for sour/pie cherries.  Note, that pie cherries have more acid than sweet cherries.  Because the gel process needs the right ratio of fruit, sugar, pectin and acid I couldn't just use a sour/pie cherry recipe and substitute sweet cherries.  I would most likely end up with cherry syrup.  So I needed to find a recipe that had added acid (lemon juice).

So here we have 3 1/2 cups cherry juice and 7 cups of sugar.  I know, that is A LOT OF SUGAR!!  Traditional jams and jellies take a lot of sugar to gel properly.  (**Never really noticed this till now, but the liquid pectin recipes appear to use more sugar than the dry pectin recipes.)

There are pectins for making low sugar jams and jellies, but I have to admit, I've never used them.  Maybe one of these days I will give them a try!

I combined the cherry juice, lemon juice and sugar then brought it to a full rolling boil.  Then I fumbled with the two packets of liquid pectin, squeezed out the contents, while trying to stir and take a quick photo. . . 

I'm used to the powdered pectin, where you add it first, bring to boil then add sugar. The liquid method just messes up my jam/jelly making mojo.

Boiled hard for 1 minute.  Note clock with a big 'ol sweep second hand.  Works perfectly for me for this!  Do they still actually make clocks like this anymore?

Okay, onward.  Turned off the fire under pot and skimmed foam and saved to have later with beer bread.  Note, it is perfectly acceptable to add 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine to help prevent foaming.  I did add 1/4 teaspoon of butter, and it does help,  but I still got a bit of foam.

I filled hot half pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace; wiped rims, added lids and rings.  Here they are ready for their boiling water bath (BWB).

I processed in the BWB for 10 mins., per instructions.   

Some important notes on processing times: 
  • The 10 minutes stated in this recipe is for an elevation of 0-1000 feet.  When canning anything, verify your elevation.  For elevations over 1000 feet, adjustments to processing times need to be made for a boiling water bath.
  • Always, always check your processing times using current up-to-date information.
  • Also, many recipes for jams/jellies have processing times of 5 minutes.  For any processing time less than 10 minutes, the jars need to be sterilized first.  I prefer to just process for 10 minutes. 

After the ten minutes were up I turned the fire off, removed the lid and waited 5 minutes before removing from the jars from the BWB.  This is a fairly recent recommendation and it helps prevent liquid loss from jars.

Here is the first batch of cherry jelly waiting to be removed.

And here are two batches done!

For more detail canning and preserving information, check out this website:  National Center for Home Food Preservation

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