As the holidays approach, spend some time in the kitchen with kids and make some jams and jellies or other items for them to give as gifts. You will be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime too with some great memories.
Do you have a hard time buying gifts for family and friends during the holiday season? Here is an idea for this holiday season: Grab your kids and head into the kitchen to prepare some homemade preserved gifts. Food preservation is a science allowing kids to explore and understand the science of safe food preservation, so lifetime skills are being learned and experienced in the kitchen. Starting with jams and jellies is a great way to begin preserving with youth. Jam’s high acidity, large amount of sugar, and lack of available water slow the growth rate of microorganisms like mold, but freezing or boiling water canning is needed to fully stop spoilage.
There are a wide variety of recipes available allowing you and your children to select favorite flavors to prepare for homemade gifts. You want to make sure to follow recipes that you get from a trusted source like the Extension Service and the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Other websites like Pinterest or Facebook might not be USDA tested recipes and they may not recommend for you to water bath can your jams and jellies after filling your jars. A safe jellied product is one that is water bath canned which creates a vacuum seal that allows your jellied products to set on self and not mold or create yeast which will spoil your product.
It is also critical to remember when teaching youth to use current, research-based methods for preserving food at home. Paraffin or wax sealing of jars is no longer considered an acceptable method for preserving any jellies. Any pinholes or cracks in the wax paraffin can allow airborne molds to contaminate and grow on the product.
For proper texture, jellied fruit products require the correct combinations of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar. The fruit gives each spread its unique flavor and color. It also supplies the water to dissolve the rest of the necessary ingredients and furnishes some or all of the pectin and acid. Good-quality, flavorful fruits make the best jellied products.
These are a few of my favorite recipes for giving at Christmas time for gifts:
Ginger Pear Preserves
Pears with lime and gingerroot combine to make a delicately flavored preserve with an exotic island taste.
You will need:
5-1/2 cups finely chopped cored peeled pears (about 8 medium)
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
7 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Yield: About 7 (8 oz) half pint jars
- 1.)PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) COMBINE pears, lime zest and juice, sugar and gingerroot in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and test gel. If preserves break from spoon in a sheet or flake, it is at the gel stage. Skim off foam. If your mixture has not reached the gel stage, return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat gel stage test and cooking as needed.
3.) LADLE hot preserves into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
4.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
- 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 package powdered pectin
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg or cinnamon or allspice
Yield: About 6 half-pint jars
Procedure: Combine apples, water and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add lemon slices (optional) and sugar. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add nutmeg. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 10 minutes.
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