This week has been a busy one for my pressure canner. I cleaned out the freezer to make room for the baked goods I am making.
So, this week:
23 pints of turkey breakfast sausage, 9 pints of ham cubes, 26 quarts of pork/apple/onion/fennel stew, 12 quarts of cooked ground beef, 7 pints of Italian sausage, and 12 pints of ground turkey breast.
Now I am reconstituting frozen juices, orange, grape, lemonade, limeade, and tropical punch. Looks like 4 quarts of each.
All that will be left in the freezer is a drawer full of vacuum sealed one pound hamburger packets and four large bags of frozen broccoli.
I have 18 dozen cookies to package and freeze tonight.
Someone once suggested I am an over-achiever. Silly them. They forgot the OCD.
I am not much of a canner; so far I have made plum jelly and pomegranate jelly only. But I'm looking into broadening my horizons. This year I got a bumper crop of oranges (apparently the orange tree really likes the laundry greywater) so I decided to make marmalade. I sliced up all the oranges, added some lemon zest, put it all on the stove, and only then realized that the measure of sugar in the recipe was in POUNDS rather than cups. I know all jellies are sugary, but... So I added considerably less sugar than the recipe called for and hoped for the best.
I jarred it all up and it looked lovely, but it stayed liquid. I consulted you all by doing a thread search and discovered marmalade can take a week or more to gel up properly, so I waited. And waited. And waited. No luck. I had four pretty jars of orange syrup.
Two weeks after I did all the boiling and canning, my grandma was here for Easter and the marmalade issue came up. She said, in that old-time don't-let-anything-go-to-waste kind of way, why don't you just boil it all again, add more sugar and jar it back up? Um....Really? Yep, she said -- it should work.
So I did it. Yesterday I emptied the syrup back into a pot, added more sugar (guessing, since I have no idea how much I added the first time), cleaned and sterilized the jars, and redid the whole project. And guess what? It gelled! I now have actual marmalade sitting on my counter.
I know many of you are veteran canners, but I thought I would share this newbie story in case someone else has a similar problem.
I made the same mistake when i first started canning (can it be only a year ago! So many mistakes in such a short time.) I found out that the sugar isn't there to just make it sweet, but that the amount is very imporant to the gelling of the product. You just gotta bit the bullet and do it !
I didn't even think of marmalade when I had all those oranges. Argh. Oh well, cannd orange juice is going to be awesome, too !
I would've saved some for syrup....ooooooo, imagine orange syrup on the chocolate black bean cake, yum! Or on waffles with strawberries....yummmm!
Did you know that you can use less or no sugar if you use gel that is made for that? I made up a bunch of jellies with No-Sugar pectin recently, sweetening the juice with stevia or with other, sweeter juices. It came out great!