A huge thank you to all of you for commenting and entering my giveaway. Congratulations to the winners. If you have won, I will be in touch to confirm details and addresses. If you haven't won, keep an eye on this website as I have a couple more awesome giveaways coming up very soon.
The US Ball Canning Prize Package: Congratulations Maggie Drake. I will arrange for your canning pack to be sent to you as soon as I get your mailing address.
In Edmonton: Congratulations Su. You win the Ball Canning Discovery Set, the Ball Blue Book of Canning and a vegetable pack from my garden (watch out!).
The Rest of Canada and The World: Congratulations, Kim Anne, Stephanie Scott and Jaime. Please email me your mailing addresses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for your lovely comments and entries.
When our two-raised-beds-and-a-few-neighbours'-garden(s) produce, it all goes a bit wild. There are times when I am so glad that I get August off, because I would have no idea how on earth I would be able to preserve and can all of the produce that keeps coming at me. This year, the bounty included carrots, beets, more zucchini than I can handle, a boat load of Evans cherries from the neighbours' garden, peas, beans, chard, arugula, lettuce... and I still have the potatoes to come.
So when I was asked to review Ball Canning's FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker, as well as take part in their Can-It-Forward Day on August 17th, it seemed like fate was taking a role in helping me out here.
I would love it if you joined me for Can-It-Forward Day on August 17th. I will be canning along with the experts, though I'll be a little behind New York time. If you want to join in, follow along on Ball Canning's Facebook Page, on Twitter, using the hashtag #canitforward and on Pinterest.
Ball Canning sent me a giant box of goodies to try out, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect way to celebrate my garden bounty. If you've been following me on Twitter and Facebook, you'll have already seen the pictures that I've been posting, including this one from a rather precarious position :) That daring did elicit a cooler full of cherries, though, so all is well. I decided to make a jelly that I've been meaning to try for a while, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.
The FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker is designed to take the stress out of preserving. Its simple enough to put together, even for the mechanically challenged likes of myself, and the instructions are simple and easy to understand. They have a good set of recipes included in the box, and an even bigger selection online, so its easy to fin what you are looking for.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a large cooler full of sour Evans cherries, so instead of opting for a recipe from the book, I decided to use Ball Canning's online pectin calculator ( a really nifty little tool) and make my own jelly. But I love the recipes in the book, and I am eagerly looking forward to making the pepper jelly among others.
Once I had my proportions right, it was a cinch to make the jelly. As promised, the Jam and Jelly Maker took all the guesswork out of making the fresh preserves, and all I had to do was hang around the kitchen, waiting for it to beep. Once the jelly was done, I just ladled it into my jars, the ones I prepped as I was waiting for the machine to do its thing, and I canned them using the preserving method. If you are giving away the jelly, and don't want to bother with this step, then you can just as easily pop the jars into the fridge too, where they will keep for three weeks.
Overall the experience was pretty much painless and really really foolproof. I did run into a few of hiccups though. First, I popped the lid on the pot, without realising that you didn't need to for all recipes. When the jelly started to overflow, I realised quickly, with the help of Mr. Google that I didn't need to close the lid for jellies. This was my own fault though, as I should have read the instructions a bit more thoroughly. So that's the first thing I would recommend doing, reading up on the machine. Otherwise you could be running into a few messy situations.
Second, I wish that the machine made more than just four cups of jam or jelly. It took me the better part of the day to make four batches of jelly, as I had to wait for the machine to cool down between cycles. A bigger batch would have made my life a little easier. But to be honest, that's probably just me at this time of the year. Mostly I would just be working with smaller batches, so I won't run into trouble. However, if you do plan on canning bigger batches, be warned that this gadget will take a little longer. And don't be tempted to not let it cool down either... you run the risk of scorching your jam or jelly (ahem... am admitting to nothing here :))
Most of the machine parts, including the stirrer, pot and lid are dishwasher safe, though I prefer washing them by hand myself. Storage is a little on the bulky side, and you will need space to put it away when you're not using it.
Overall, I loved my experience with the FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker and now I am really excited to head to the farmer's market this weekend, so I can stock up on produce to make my own jams and jellies (erm, like I don't have enough of my own... and yeah, the other canning is happening too, you can be prepared for a ton of pickling recipes coming your way soon) I like that I can devote a day to putting up my fruit and veg, but at the same time, it gives me the flexibility to clean and prep as I don't have to stand over a hot pot with a wooden spoon and a panicked timer. Just for that alone, this is a winner in my book.
This is my own recipe, that I adapted for the FreshTECH Jam and Jelly Maker. If you'd like to use the official recipes, you can find them here. They look awesome, and I'll be trying some myself very soon.
This is a low sugar recipe that I made using the FreshTECH Jam and Jelly maker. I have linked to the more traditional versions above. This jam is very tangy, but with an amazing flavour and fragrance profile. I love the almost Turkish fragrance that permeates the kitchen as I was making it.
3 cups sour cherry juice (minus 3 tablespoons) (4 pounds sour cherries + 1/2 cup water)
4 tablespoons powdered pectin (I used Ball Real Fruit Classic Pectin)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon butter
3 tablespoons rosewater
To make the cherry juice: pick over and remove the stems of the cherries. Place the whole, unpitted cherries in a large saucepan, and crush lightly using a potato masher. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for ten minutes, crushing the cherries as they cook.
Strain the juice through a coarse chinois or a cheesecloth lined sieve. Once you have collected as much juice as you can, strain again through a jelly bag, this time taking care not to squeeze the bag and letting the juice drip through.
Measure out 3 cups of the juice, minus three tablespoons, and keep aside.
Sprinkle in the powdered pectin in the FreshTECH Jam and Jelly maker. Pour in the juice and the rosewater. Set it to the jelly setting and press enter.
When the machine beeps after 4 minutes, evenly sprinkle in the sugar. Don't cover with the lid, as it will overflow. The machine will automatically stir and cook the jelly at this point.
Meanwhile, prepare your jars. Wash 4 half pint (250 ml) jars in hot, soapy water and let dry. Place the lids in boiling water. Keep the jars at the ready.
When the jelly is made, the machine will beep. Press cancel, then unplug the machine. Ladle the jelly into the prepared jars, then carefully place the lids on top. Screw on bands to fingertip tight.
If planning to eat straightaway, leave to cool (the lids will pop as they seal), then store in the fridge for up to three weeks. If planning to preserve, follow the directions included in this chart for Fresh Preserving here.
I have a few canning goodies to give away to my readers, so don't forget to enter. I will pick the winners at random on Sunday, August 18th at 5 PM MST.
Interested? Well, all you have to do to enter is answer this question - what fruit or vegetable would you most like to preserve? Leave your answer in the comments below, and please make sure that you leave me a valid email address at which I can contact you if you win.
Thanks to Ball Canning, one lucky reader from the United States will be in with a chance of winning a Ball Canning Discovery Set, The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and one coupon for a free case of Ball brand canning jars. Please note that this giveaway is only open US residents. If you live in Edmonton, Canada or internationally, please see below.
Canadian and International Residents:
I decided to Can-It-Forward myself, by also offering giveaways for my readers in Edmonton, Canada and all over the world.
If you live in Edmonton, you're in with a chance of winning a Ball Canning Discovery Set, The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and a zucchini (or any other vegetable that I pick) from my garden :) Same rules, just leave me a comment answering the question above, with a note saying that you're from Edmonton. I will pick a winner at random. Please note that you should be able to pick up your giveaway from me, and I will be able to meet you around Southgate Mall or in the University Area at a mutually arranged time.
If you live in the rest of Canada or internationally, please leave me a comment and I will pick three at random, and you can win a copy of The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Same rules apply, except that in this case I will mail your book to you. Please let me know in your comments where you live, so you can be entered in the right giveaway.