By Sandy Hu
When our boys were young, Steve and I used to do some home canning in the kitchen of our two-bedroom condominium in San Francisco. We did it for the cost savings.
Paying tuition at the French-American International School for our two boys and funding their extra-curricular activities meant that going home to Hawaii was a stretch for us. And, a trip home always involved taking food gifts to family and friends, following the Japanese custom of gifting, omiyage. One way we could ease the budget was to make some of the omiyage ourselves.
So in the summer, we canned. The canning pot and racks, and the canning jars and lids were fairly inexpensive and we could make gifts in quantity. From Bay Area farmers we bought a bounty of peaches for jam and apples for chutney. We cooked the batches, sterilized the jars and as one of us filled the jars, the other cleaned the tops, screwed the lids and settled the jars in the hot water bath. Once you get into the hang of it, it’s really not hard, nor especially time-consuming.
It’s been a long time since we did any canning. I’m sure the equipment is in the garage somewhere. And maybe one day we’ll return to it – this time, for fun. Homemade jams are especially nice as a hostess gift around Christmastime, capturing the fresh taste of summer.
We continue to make jams to celebrate the wonderful summer fruit we are blessed with in the Bay Area. Steve makes apricot jam and I make strawberry. But instead of canning, we just keep our jams refrigerated, where they have a short life of a few weeks; we freeze what we won’t be able to consume to defrost and enjoy through the winter.
If you want to learn to can, there are many how-to-can websites, including the Ball website, providing comprehensive instructions.
Miche’s Apricot Jam – La Confiture d’Abricot de Miche
3 pounds (1-1/2 kg) apricots, pitted and quartered
3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
Place the apricots and the sugar in a non-reactive pan or bowl, stir, cover and let macerate for at least 12 hours.
Transfer the fruit and sugar to a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the mixture is boiling merrily and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and ladle the jam into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom. Seal according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions.
Yields about 10 cups (2-½ liters)
From the book, On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town, by Susan Hermann Loomis, published by Broadway (April 30, 2002)
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