Ah, Labor Day. Every year I imagine a Labor Day with no laboring. However, this will never be a reality for us, as Honeyfest quickly approaches every year on the Saturday after Labor Day. But that's okay- it's not in our nature to loaf around, so we toil on, busying ourselves with the chores of our farm, our four young children, our 400 some beehives. Today Isaac put pollen traps on 45 of the hives. It took him over half the day and at least a gallon of sweat, and he still has more to attend to tomorrow. I worked on preparing packages to ship from our Etsy online store, amidst entertaining the kids with baking soda and vinegar volcanoes. We ended the day with some blackberry jam, so I thought I would show you the progression of my jam-making this summer.
So far, I've made 39 half pint jars of black raspberry jam. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. Earlier this summer, I got a little overzealous about the black raspberries when I was visiting my hometown. I purchased 42 quarts to fill my freezer, where they sit waiting to be turn into jams, along with about 40 quart bags of red raspberries from our own garden.
Anyone looking to stock their freezer with fresh local produce should take a visit to the Farmer's Produce Auction in Mt. Hope, Ohio. This is where I purchased most of my berries this year. I love to visit anytime I go back to my hometown. Even if I don't need any produce the people-watching is great, and the colors and quantities of the fresh produce are amazing. Candy onions were the hot item of the day.
And who can get enough of little Amish babies in their bonnets.
I think my baby is cute... but really, is there anything much cuter than an Amish baby?
Maybe a Mennonite/Methodist baby with some sunflowers?
But I digress... back to the Black Raspberry Jam. I am not a strict follower of recipes when it comes to jam. I love to attempt low-sugar recipes, but I won't lie- they have not come out perfect for me this year. My first two batches resemble more of a syrup than a jam, which is great for spreading on pancakes and in homemade yogurt (or plain yogurt if you don't make it yourself). But after my first two batches were a little runny, I went ahead and bought some sure-jell and liquid pectin to see if I could improve the texture and get to that jam phase.
Isaac grabbed his camera while I was working.
So even though I didn't follow an exact recipe for each batch, here is the skinny on how you make jam:
6 cups black raspberries (mine were frozen, thawed, and mashed in the pot)
4 cups sugar
one pouch liquid pectin
1. Prep 9 half pint jelly jars (I sterilized mine in the dishwasher)
2. Combine the berries with juices and sugar in a large pot. Bring it to a boil, stirring as you go.
3. The jam will begin to thicken and the boil won't be easily stirred down. Add the liquid pectin and stir. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and allow jam to thicken.
4. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth, apply lids and rings.
5. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
6. When time is up, let jars cool on a wire rack. When cool to touch, remove rings and test the seals to make sure they have properly sealed.
Now- here's the part where you question why I used sugar and not honey? I know I know... honey is better. I'm sure it would taste better too. I simply don't like to boil my honey. I do like to bake with honey and I have no qualms about turning raw honey into "non-raw honey" by baking it. However, with such large batches of jams, I simply prefer to use sugar. It pains me to see such large quantities of honey at a rapid boil on my stove. Just my personal preference though... I am sure honey jam is more lovely in many ways. If you would like to make jam with raw honey- I would suggest trying a freezer jam recipe and adding the honey after the hot jam/water mixture has cooled below 100 degrees. Here is a great one to try from the Montana Homesteader website.
Another food we put in jars today was homemade refrigerator dill pickles. Maizy is my pickle lover. Yet she still gets confused about which one is the cucumber and which one is the pickle. So I thought I'd give her the chance to make them herself. I even let her cut the cucumbers herself with (*gasp*) a real knife. :-)
We followed a recipe from my favorite food blog, Annie's Eats. However, we decreased the amount of salt in the recipe because when we made them last year they were way too salty for our liking and we ended up throwing them out. Here is our amended recipe:
Refrigerator Dill Pickles:
Combine the first three ingredients in canning jars. Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a pitcher. Pour this mixture into the canning jars so the cucumbers are completely covered.
Refrigerate for two days and enjoy!
Even though Labor Day is supposed to signal the end of summer, there is still plenty of time to enjoy summer adventures. Toads in the driveway...
|Me and Bridger at the Honey Run Waterfall|
We hope to see you at the Lithopolis Honeyfest this Friday and Saturday! It is guaranteed to be a good time for all.