Today, Kate shares a great lead for those who want to try their hand at canning (perfect for preserving summertime bounty!):
My young daughter has never been a fan of peanut butter, but she loves strawberry jelly. On toast, on waffles, between two slices of bread, or licked off a spoon, jam is the queen of sweet condiments in our house. Given the quantities that we consume, I recently became interested in learning how to make jams and jellies at home. An experience about a decade ago had left me with bad memories of bubbling pots of steaming, sticky peach-flavored goop and lots of small and hard-to-handle jars, but I decided to give it another try.
Some research turned me on to the wonderfully accessible Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff, which has been my guide as I've delved into the world of contemporary jam-making. Krissoff's beautiful volume provides a set of seasonally based recipes for all manner of items that can be canned and jarred: preserves, salsas, kimchi, pickles, and fresh fruits and veggies. The directions for safely preparing and sealing jars are plainly explained and easy to follow, and many of the necessary tools are things that you are likely to already have in your kitchen or pantry. Fresh jars and other canning supplies can be found at most hardware stores, and are generally inexpensive.
One important note: canning requires the use of high stovetop heat, both to sterilize the jars and to seal them, so the canning process itself is not the best activity for young children (though they certainly could help with some of the prep work). For older kids and adults, though, it's a charmingly homespun and fulfilling way to spend an afternoon, and of course little ones will delight in "helping" with the delicious results.