Canning with friends

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Canning can be a daunting process even if you’ve done it a thousand times, so partnering up is a no-brainer. Especially when that person likes canning just as much as you do.

Peach bourbon jam + tomato jam

Peach bourbon jam + tomato jam

For us, canning is a process that we wanted to learn for really no other reason than preserving the produce we cart home from the farmers markets and what we were growing in our gardens. Both of us enjoy tackling kitchen techniques and mastering them, only to move on and try something else.

Getting up before 8am on a Saturday isn’t something I enjoy doing. Really, I could sleep until 11 easily.

But, in order to get a good deal and the best pick of produce, it’s imperative to get to the Broad Ripple farmers market at 8am.

Plus, the later you go, the busier it gets – I like knowing what I want, where it is, and gettin’ the heck out of there before it gets crazy.

Tamre and I planned to make peach bourbon jam and a tomato jam – I’m not a fan of going to the farmers market without a having a “wish list” of items I’ll use for meals or canning projects. It’s too easy to walk out with way too much or nothing at all.

After making a walk-through of all the vendors to see the best prices, we found tomatoes at $3/lb from the Amish tent and peaches for $5 a box (roughly 3lb per box). Also picked up a pound of bacon from Smoking Goose (I almost always get either bacon or sausages from here, also FYI their smoker was stolen so if you see this around Indianapolis please let them know) and two doggie hamburgers from Three Dog Bakery so that Tamre could introduce herself to Dollar and Brandy with a treat.

Once we pulled everything out and got ready to tackle the kitchen, we looked at our recipes:

Peach Bourbon Jam from Serious Eats

Sweet and Savory Tomato Jam from Food52

The tomato jam required 2 1/2 to 3 hours of simmering on the stove, so this went on the stove first. Following that, we prepared the peaches and realized we purchased 6ish pounds instead of the 3 1/2 that were needed, so we doubled the recipe.

DOUBLING meant turning 7 1/2 cups of sugar to 15 cups.

1/2 cup of bourbon to 1 cup of bourbon.

6 half-pints to 6 half-pints and 3 pints.

That’s kind of awesome.

The jam cooked quickly, only needing to boil for a few minutes (as per recipe). Processing took longer but not really difficult. Tamre brought her new canning pot over, one with a rack, which was very helpful in processing more than 3 jars at a time.

Even with adding the 3 pints, we needed more jars. Our final sealed count was 5 half pints (filled another jar 3/4 of the way to the top) and 10 half-pints. All jars have black bits of vanilla seed, which really balances the bourbon.

Tomato jam? Not so much. Only 4 half-pints and a half of a half-pint of leftovers.

My only comment about the tomato jam would be to that is never seemed like it really set as a jam. It was thick and choppy from the tomatoes (that I pureed with an immersion blender because I don’t like chunks of tomatoes) but we skimmed 2 cups of water out of it, a step not provided in the recipe but seemed necessary from our perspective.

I think next time we will try roma tomatoes or something with less water than the big beefsteaks, maybe even add tomato paste to thicken it up more. We omitted the onion, both just thinking it was a silly addition. But hey, the price was right  and that is important.

Tomatoes from the farmers market

Tomatoes from the farmers market

All in all, we had a very productive afternoon. I earned my jug of popcorn at The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX tonight.

Peach Bourbon and Tomato Jams

Peach Bourbon and Tomato Jams

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  • Wade Wingler

    If you’re only canning jams, isn’t is a “jam session” with friends? Don’t even get me started on the fact that we call it canning when in fact it’s jarring. I crack me up.

    • solidgoldeats

      Dun dun dun…

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  • Tamre

    I made the tomato jam again last night. For whatever reason, smaller meatier tomatoes work better with this recipe. I did not have to drain off any extra liquid and it seemed very jammy at 3 hrs of cooking. It made 3 1/2 pints plus a little extra.