A couple people have asked me about canning so I thought I'd do an in depth post on how to do it. It seems overwhelming at first, but really it's not. There's just a lot of wrangling to do with pots and whatnot.
So... here goes:
The Lovely Ladies. Isn't the color just gorgeous? They are a butterfly attractant and it was recently discovered that the crushed berries are AS EFFECTIVE as Deet for mosquito repellent! It smelled very "herbal" as Matt described
This is how they grow - in clusters
5 cups of sugar. You heard me. These little suckers are tart
Step 1: Boil the beautyberries. I got sad to see them losing their beautiful purple color
Boil boil toil and trouble - for 20 minutes
Strain out the berries and plant material to get this "infusion" is what the farmer called it
Add in 1/2 cup of lemon juice - preferably fresh picked from your backyard like mine. Yay! Beautiful color is back
This frog thought the smells were just too good to pass up
Add in a packet of Surejell and stir stir stir. This was interesting to me because I've canned 3 times before and never used Surejell. Personally, I like my jam a little on the runny side, but this is a whole different beast. This is jelly. Jelly is supposed to be jelled - DUH! The farmer told me that a friend of hers made this exact recipe and it turned into Beautyberry syrup. It never set. You could also boil apple peals in the initial boil because apple is a natural pectin which is exactly what Surejell is. I forgot to, but I think mine is going to do just fine.
This is me stirring the liquid after I put in the Surejell. You can actually see it getting thicker right before your eyes
See how it's starting to run off the spoon in a long thin line? That means it's jelling.
Okay, here's my hardware. On the left is my "processing" pot with boiling water. I start this before I start cooking the jam/jelly/what have you. It takes a long time to get that much water boiling. You need about 1 inch to cover to top of the jars. In the little pot are my lids. I boiled it for 5 minutes to sanitize and then turned it off and let them sit in warm water until I need them. On the right is my jelly cooking.
In there are my jelly jars sanitizing. I just run a load on a regular setting with dish soap but nothing else in there. I don't want any food particles landing on my sanitized jars.
Back to the jelly: After you add the Surejell, bring it to a boil for 2 minutes. It is starting to foam
Eww, foam. Ohh, pretty color!
Skim the foam off. I lost about 1/2 cup from skimming. I wanted to make sure it was really clear.
All clear! And ready to start the actual canning procedure:
Ladle the mixture into the jars. That blue funnel was purchased with a canning kit for about $5. You need it.
6 jars worth made from 3 cups of infusion and 5 cups of sugar. Holy diabetic coma, Batman!
Hello my pretties
Wipe off the top of the jars in case you dribbled some liquid. That will affect it sealing.
Another little tool from the kit. A magnet picker-upper. So you don't burn your finger-wingers.
Use your finger to pop the top off the magnet. Don't touch the sides so you don't contaminate the jar with your dirty disgusting bacteria. Just kidding, you're not disgusting. Seriously, though. Don't touch it.
Screw on the screw part of the lid. This is just to hold the lid in place while processing in the hot water. You can and should remove them after you're sure they are sealed. They may rust.
Tighten the screw lid ... but not too tight. Not too tight, not too loose. But JUST right. Let the Schwartz guide you, my son
Another doohickie from the canning kit. Pick up the jars and carefully place them in the boiling water.
See? You don't need a special canning pot if you don't want it. It makes clanging noises while boiling and the jars move around while processing so you may be fishing for jars afterwards... but still. Hardly any new equipment for a whole new cooking activity!
Cover and process. That just means boil. I set my timer for 10 minutes. I completely pulled that time out of my ass. I figured we needed 5 minutes for the fig jam... heck add another 5! If they don't vacuum seal you can always reprocess. You're just making sure you killing off the bacteria.
I saved a little for myself to try it out. It was sweet and tart and berry-y. Here you can see the jelly falling off the spoon in "sheets." That means it jelled! Hooray!
nyah nyah nyah.
Here's a video showing how awesome I am: