Canning is something I like the idea of. It fits in nicely with my dream of owning a small inn — having a garden to supply me with most of the food (gardening being another activity I like the idea of but fail to execute always), preserving, making soap, and all that stuff housewives used to do but no longer have to do because we are living the future. Don’t get the wrong idea, my goal is not to be a housewife, but to just live simply and under my own control. Must. Control. Most. Things.
My grandmother was a champion canner, making mainly strawberry and peach jam every year — which makes sense because their seasons are far from one another, and her always delicious-with-peanut-butter sweet pickles which were always quartered, maybe so they sat well between two pieces of toast.
My mother also made sure to have enough jars of freezer jam (strawberry, of course) to last us a year of regular frozen-strawberry jam and peanut-butter sandwiches. Yes, peanut-butter and I have an unhealthy relationship. I don’t allow myself to buy it very often.
I, on the other hand, shunned all acts of domesticity for many years, until I realized baking was the only thing I could do and then present to the world without wanting to crawl into a hole. Usually I just want to put the cake down and run behind a tree, which is better, comparatively.
So, about jamming.
Boil the shit out of all your tools and jars and don’t you dare touch them with your fingers even though you should have already washed your hands ten times. Sanitation is essential to not killing yourself and others when it comes to jamming. Or marmalading as the case is here.
Boil your lids just prior to sealing the jars.
The jars should be warm when you fill them. Keeping them in a warm oven is a good way to do this, and it dries them after the sterilizing step.
Use a canning funnel. They may not seal if you get the rims all goopey.
You will likely burn your fingerprints off, at least the first couple of times.
Metal tongs will play both your friend and your foe in this event. Be wary.
Pear & Ginger Marmalade (pg.489)
3Kg Pears, stemmed, peeled, cored, chopped
100g Crystalized Ginger, chopped
Peel the limes. Slice into a julienne and set aside. In a large bowl, juice limes over pears and ginger. Stir in sugar until combined. Cover for 1 hour.
Bring water and julienne to a boil in a small pot. Migoya says to cook this until the water is almost evaporated, which I did, but the peel was not especially soft. I thought the peel would soften further during the jamming process, but it did not, thus I was left with tough zest. Tough enough for me to be fairly unhappy with the final product. I suggest checking the texture and if they are still undercooked, as in difficult to bite through, add a bit more water and continue to cook until they are al dente.
In a large pot, bring pears to a boil while stirring. After 20 or so minutes, add julienne. Cook until a thermometer reads 120 degrees Celsius, or until the mixture, when spread on a plate, sets up in the freezer within a couple of minutes (Migoya does not recommend the plate-test. I do both).