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Food Preservation


Food Preservation

How-To's on putting food aside: canning, freezing, drying, much more...

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Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 23, 2011 at 9:46am

My partner in Preserve (or friend I should say) always talks the Pomona talk and I know lots of folks who do.  And if I could not have sugar or honey or agave syrup (since they will work in making jam) and I really wanted jam I would go with Pomona since you can make the stuff without any sweetener which is a sure-fired plus to many folks.  But then again, in that case I would most likely go for a fruit spread like apple butter and not use any sweetener at all as it thickens nicely and I could forgo the whole will-it-thicken-without-sugar controversy.  My understanding, based on urban legend, is that Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus - a 60's tome for us first generation foragers) came up with the stuff for his brother who was a diabetic.  Can't say if that is true but its a pretty good invention for making jam without sugar.  So Pat is very good to suggest it.   My own approach was to reduce the sugar in my jam making by half of what most recipes call for.  It cooks up dandy and I eat it knowing that a power food it is not. "A little dab will do you" (you feel me there don't you pat?).

 But then again, no way, really, to reduce sugar in making jelly.  That stuff almost always calls for an equal amount of sugar to juice.  Traditionally, jelly is only made with the juice - no pulp - so it is clear as a bell, or jell, or whatever.  Judges at county fairs used to award blue ribbons for the clearest jelly so the no fruit fiber thing was important.  But I'm not a jelly fan.  Oh, maybe mint jelly would be nice but then I'd add some savory stuff to it, like some finely chopped shallots or spicy peppers and definitely chopped mint leaves (if not basil leaves as well) and use it as a savory condiment.  But the point really is....jellies need a near equal amount of sugar to fruit juice, no added pectin if made with high pectin fruit juice (tart apples or quinces for example) and cooking to the proper jelling point. 

As for using it to thicken other things....I'm not sure.  But I have wondered about that for my liquid pectin stock which I always have on hand.  I have also been reading about pectin being good for arthritis and inflammations so I will have to research that more.  Maybe a tablespoon or so in the morning would be good for these getting older bones. 

Comment by Pat Johnson on April 23, 2011 at 9:27am

Jams, jellies and Preserves are really easy to make. I think the biggest challenge is making sure it " jells". If you do a little research on the methods and understand the process it will generally lead to successful caned/jelled products. The Pickyourown.org site is one of the most comprehensive resources I have found on the subject and a must read for all budding jam & jelly makers out there.

Comment by Pat Johnson on April 23, 2011 at 9:05am
Do any of you use Pomona's Universal Pectin to reduce or eliminate the need for added sugar or cooking down fruits to a high-sugar level? I have been using it for a while and like the ability to add the amount of sugar I like or substitute Splenda for it when I want. It uses calcium as a jelling agent and it will re-jell when cooked along with something else. Sure-Jell makes a low or no sugar pectin that will allow you to use less sugar too but it still has some requirements in order to jell properly where the Pomona's will jell regardless of what you do right or wrong. That allows me to taylor my jams, jellies and preserves to my taste rather than having to add enough sugar  to make it jell even if I'd prefer less sugar. The Pomona's will also jell other things too so I have been experimenting with it in sauces, soups (using just enough to thicken), fruit & veggie butters.....
Comment by Pat Johnson on April 23, 2011 at 8:53am
Harriet's site also has a good page on how to tell if your jelly will jell so you don't end up with runny jelly.....http://www.portlandpreserve.com/TestingTheJellyPoint.pdf
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 22, 2011 at 3:31pm
Could have also been the low pectin count since strawberries are one of those fruits that benefit with the addition of some.  You can add another high pectin fruit to your strawberries (like currants) or lemon juice.  The trick is to make the size of your pan commensurate with the quantity of your fruit.  When making a large batch I use a paella pan.  I use half as much berries to sugar (by weight), let it sit overnight (an extra day wouldn't hurt), add some high pectin fruit or lemon juice or my home-made pectin stock (2/3 cup per 4 cup low pectin fruit)  and bring the baby up to the boil. One at full boil it generally takes about 15 - 18 minutes to come together with me stirring it pretty constantly towards the end of the process.  But I write and showcase all this in my dvd Preserving with Friends that you can order off my website at www.portlandpreserve.com.  Lots of good info there.
Comment by Aliza Ess on April 22, 2011 at 1:57pm
Great tips Harriet! This probably explains why I ended up with a dozen half-pints of strawberry syrup last year, instead of strawberry jam.... ;p
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 22, 2011 at 12:13pm

Hey Terresa,  

I go to great lengths to talk about "The Alchemy of Jam Making".  My best suggestion is that you use a wide pan with shallow sides so the liquid in the fruit evaporates quickly.  Also, I suggest you marinate the fruit overnight with the sugar to pull out the liquid from the fruit.  Oh, well, you have the book.  Enjoy the smells.  I love making jam.

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 22, 2011 at 12:09pm
Such a good idea on that cool weather pressure canning. I know it is just the thing to do but it seems like I go for summer vegetables in summer and not the heavier stews of winter -- off the shelf or otherwise.

Lovely, lovely tomato canning parade. So impressive. I am always humbled when I see how the real folks do it. Sixty tomato plants!!!! You go girl.
Comment by Terresa Marler Dipuma on April 22, 2011 at 12:05pm

Harriet, I just received your book as a gift yesterday and look forward to reading it. As for the bounty in New Orleans, I'm planning on picking up a flat of strawberries to turn into preserves. But if we don't get any rain down here pretty soon, I'm not going to have anything to can this summer.

Comment by Lynda Reynolds on April 22, 2011 at 11:58am

Harriet when I get the nothin' to can canning blues I cook up a big pot of beans and grab the pressure canner and I'm off and running.  I love having those beans on the shelf ready for me to warm up.  My Winter/cool weather canning is always around meals-in-minutes: pasta sauces, soups, stews, bean dishes.  I know Spring is coming and I'm going to be busy in the garden and these jars are so handy!


Erin: I canned almost 400#'s of tomato products last year and will do more this year...it was an amazing task and a real hoot.  I gave away jars and jars...we're a big family...I have 5 grown children!  Most of my tomatoes came from my son.  I did purchase some amazing heirloom cherry tomatoes to dehydrate and I grew some big heirlooms for fresh eating.  This year I'm growing about 60 heirloom tomato and pepper plants, my son has his tomato acreage and I have the Farmers Market...I am so looking forward to it warming up! I just hope I get most of my jars back!


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