This year I started canning. It was something that I had never grown up with. I had the distorted impression that canning was difficult, required a lot of equipment, and made huge amounts. How wrong I was. Not only is it easy, you only need a pressure cooker for certain things (of which I've not done any of those yet anyway), and you can make a small batch of only one pint if you really want to.
And so we have created a canning freak. The funny thing is, I'm not a big jam/preserve person, and so I'm not sure what I'll do with this stuff besides give it away. I'm having fun though - experimenting and playing around.
Here are a couple of my simple shortcuts.
I estimate the number of jars I need, fill them with water, and then nuke them in the microwave. I figure if you need to sanitize your jars, why not nuke them?
I heat the lids in a small saucepan of water. After I've ladled and sealed the jar lids on the jars, I take all that hot water I had used for sanitizing and transfer it to a pot of water to cover my jars and boil/seal for ten minutes. Don't want to waste water.
So far I have made my spicy strawberry jam, citrus marmalades, lemon curd, and below, my balsamic cherry jam.
The last one was an example of small batch jam making. I had bought some cherries at the farmers market that seemed good when I tasted there, but then when I got home I realized the batch wasn't that flavorful. I figured this was perfect canning fruit.
Balsamic Cherry Jam
1 lb of cherries, pitted, halved
1 c sugar
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 pkg of pectin
1/4 t nutmeg
Place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue stirring until the mixture boils down to a thick consistency. Jar and seal.