Def Jam

July 9, 2008

Word up for home-canned raspberry jam! Post–farmers market run (and post-picnic in the park — all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy), I set about jamming the two quarts of raspberries Mein Schatz and I snapped up from a local berry farmer for a mere ten-spot.

My reasoning: Why not stay locavore even after berry season ends? Okay, so the pectin I used to gel the jam isn’t from around the Puget Sound. But the raspberries are definitely 100-milers. Likewise the water in which I boiled the jars, themselves veterans of previous canning endeavors.

But, lest you mark me Betty Crocker, I do have a question for the hardcore canners out there. Can I reuse the caps and lids? I uncovered the perfect number of unused caps ‘n’ lids with the rest of my canning rig, so this batch is moot. But next weekend will likely bring another round of homespun jammin’, and I’d like to avoid the cap and lid purchase if necessary. (Why buy new when you can reuse?)

Advice? Horror stories? Encouragement? Recipes?


19 Responses to “Def Jam”

  1. K.A. said

    You can reuse the caps (sides) but not the lids (tops). Apparently, once they pop out, they don’t pop back. Or so I’ve heard. My husband does the canning around here.

  2. Michelle said

    I second K.A.–the rings can be reused until they no longer function, but the lids are a one-use item.

    I’ve been meaning to take the plunge and start doing some canning. I gave myself until the start of tomato season to get my canning supplies established (to put up enough marinara to get through as many tomato-less months as possible), but now I’m thinking it would be a shame to miss out on berry season.

    If you’re interested, there’s a method for making jam without pectin, involving lemon juice to get the fruit to release its natural pectin. (When I googled it, the second entry that popped up is from the Seattle Times. Let us know how it turns out if you try it!

  3. Thanks, K.A. and Michelle.

    Drats about the no-reuse on the lids. That’s a bummer. I suppose I’ll simply end up with loads of pre-popped lids, then. Perhaps they’ll make a good craft project.

    And thanks for the pectin-free recipe, Michelle! I’ll have to try it. I’m not that into pectin, as a rule, so thanks for your help.

  4. alison said

    Ditto on not reusing the lids, food safety is nothing to be careless about, but you know that you can buy just new lids, right? (My understanding is that the rubbery “stickum” on the lids is only good for one use)

    Different fruits have varying amounts of pectin in them naturally, and the pectin content also changes depending on how ripe the fruit is.

    I found this link which discusses pectin…

  5. Jenna said

    Re: old lids – you can still use the glass jars with the old lids for standard food storage. I’ve got leftovers in the freezer and in the fridge in them – plus, no plastic ;).

    If you make “freezer jam”, it’s fine with the old lids too, it’s just if you want to store them on the pantry shelf do you have to make sure that everything is sealed properly.

  6. Thanks, everyone. I did see the 12-pack of lids at the co-op, yes; I suppose I’ll have to get those. I wish I didn’t have to buy new ones every time. Seems kind of wasteful.

    And, ditto, Jenna: We definitely pack lunch and store leftovers in the old jars. I haven’t had great luck with freezer jam in the past; it gets gummy and loses its flavor. Perhaps it is my recipe. Do you have any good freezer recipes you’d like to share?

  7. Emily said

    I know nothing of canning except for my deep love of pickles and strawberry rhubard sauce (over ice cream, of course!) I try very hard to eat what’s in season, but some canned yumminess is the the best way to add some summer cheer to days of winter doldrums!

  8. Mmm…pickles. Those are on the docket for late July. They are loads of fun and so delicious. Mr. LS and I are finishing up the last quart jar I canned back in ’05. So delectable!

  9. Emily said

    Over the 4th I had the pleasure of polishing off a whole jar of pickled green beans AND pickled asparagus! They were slightly spicy and very much the best stuff on earth.

  10. Green beans! A capital idea! I’ll have to do those this weekend or next, when the beans are at their peak. Thanks so much for the brain-jog.

  11. Erin said

    What is the easiest food to begin canning with?

  12. Erin: I would start with berry jam. Berries are very simple, and they taste great. Plus, there is little prep involved in making the jam. See the links in the comments above for some recipes, courtesy of the other readers.

    I started with sweet pickles, which are fairly easy, but you have to deal with loads of ingredients. Again, not too tough, though.

    Good luck, and let us know what you decide to do!

  13. Tea said

    I know you’re not *supposed* to reuse the flat lids, but I have been known to on occasion–especially when I used them once but opened the jar a week or two later. If the gummy bit around the lid looks still fresh and it seals properly and holds, then I take fate into my own hands. But I mainly can jams and pickles, which are pretty safe to begin with.

    That said, everyone tells you not to.

    I also stopped using pectin for the most part. I add lemon juice and often finely chop up lemon zest as well. Its a bit softer, without that jellied consistency. I like it better.

    Your filled jam jars are lovely to look at. I can’t wait for blackberry season.

  14. EJ said

    When you get tired of raspberry jam just fill a jar with raspberries (don’t pack) add vodka to cover. Let sit for a month at least. This will keep “forever” even with old lids. Great addition to grown up fruit salads, cake filling or on ice cream. I don’t add sugar, but I suppose you could.

  15. Thanks, Tea. I’d hoped that might be the case re: the gummy stuff, but wasn’t sure. I think I’m going pectin-free for the next batch. Do you add anything other than lemon juice/zest? Thanks for the compliment on the photo; we cracked one yesterday for brunch with some friends — delish and lovely!

    EJ: Thank you, thank you for this great idea! Mr. Living Small loved it, especially. Brava!

  16. Corrie said

    I think those used lids would be great for votives- no need to clean a candle holder post-candle-burning.

  17. Great idea, Corrie! Thanks.

  18. […] 5, 2009 After doling out much of the Small stores of home-canned jam, et al., this Christmas, I’ve been lamenting the diaspora of my beautiful […]

  19. […] canned with love (or, perhaps, purchased at the farmers market) by the host. Just add toast and a jamband playlist (I’m thinking the Grateful Dead and the Hampton Grease Band), and you’ve got yourself a simple, Small, and cheap night in with the gang. […]

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