Saturday, August 08, 2009

Jam and tomatoes

Boiled up the plum jam again having added the juice of a lemon to it. Still hasn't really set in any noticeable well despite a good twenty minutes. Have put it in jars anyway and will just put it away and forget about it.

Made another batch of the raspberry jam but this time added some strawberries as well (750g raspberries, 350g strawberries) and as I hadn't attempted making pectin stock again used jam sugar this time. Still hasn't really set very much but definitely more than last time. I kept a good eye on it this time and used a thermometer which showed that the temperature didn't really get much above 92 degrees so although I know only a bad worker blames their tools, I'm starting to wonder if the hotplate cooker I have is really up to the job.

I bought six kilos of tomatoes today to bottle them and bought some new jars as well. I've added a category of 'preserving supplies' to my annual budget costs. This year I'm just paying as I go but it'll take me a couple of years to build up a supply of jars I think so it seems sensible to put a small amount of money away each month to cover it rather than being broke every summer. I have friends saving jars for me as well and heard recently about a flea market which is held near here every week or so and will check that out for bargains as well.

So, tomorrow will be my first attempt at bottling tomatoes. I reckon six kilos of tomatoes should give me about 8 half-litre jars. I have seven half-litre jars and three 1 litre ones. Think I will do two big ones and the rest in the smaller ones. I checked the water bath canner and seven jars will fit in it at one time so that should just about fit. However, it is way too big for my cooker. If I leave it across the width of the two hotplates it leaves just a bit on each edge so of course the entire pot will not be directly on the heat at any time. Hopefully it'll work out. I have a few lemons and from what I can gather from various sources I need to add approx. the juice of half a lemon to each half-litre jar, stuff it with the skinned and de-seeded tomatoes and top up with boiling water if necessary, making sure to get any bubbles out. Then put the lids on, but not too tight and for the leifheit two-part lids make sure to release them a quarter turn before they go into the water bath to be boiled/processed for about 40 minutes.

Wish me luck!


dND said...

I know what you mean about whether the hotplate is up to it. I was using one of the little table-top double burners to start with and that definitely wasn't. While my 'normal' electric cooker is better it's not that much better.

Here in France its common to purchase a bottle gas heating ring to do the jamming and bottling - it also means it can be done outside on a hot day so you don't heat up the kitchen.

I've been looking for a second hand set up but no luck as yet - the French rarely turf out anything until it's unusable, may have to wait for a good supermarket offer!

Moonwaves said...

I meant to buy something like that but never got around to it and am a bit stretched for cash at the moment so it's had to go on the back burner for a while (a pun! see? see what I did there :) )

I would like to go camping next year so thought something like a one ring camping stove would work but although they're not tremendously expensive I still need to check out about the gas canisters needed to run them. Really need to find the time to go into one of the camping shops and have a chat.

dND said...

It all takes time (and money)! I keep reminding myself that I can't expect to have a lifetimes equipment and knowledge in the space of a year or so. I know I'm the sort of person who will take on too much and then get disheartened because it hasn't all worked.

I'm not sure a camping burner would work, I know it's probably hotter than the hotplate but it's primarily designed for a small pan. No actual knowledge of them just gut feeling.

Your tomatoes look lovely - I'm just waiting for mine to ripen (late planting) and am going to have a go at bottling/canning this year. Last year I bought 40kg plum toms from the market and turned them all into sauce; with a bit further reduction it's great for pizza, as it is it's good for pasta and casserole bases and with a little more water and some creme frais its a lovely soup.

Deborah x