We only had a small crew of Petits Chefs this week as the term starts to wind down and more events are taking place after school but I didn’t want to cancel just because we had less boys. I find the more things get “abnormal” in terms of the schedule, the better it is to stick with routine (for me and the boys!) as much as possible.
What better recipe choice for a small group of boys, then than a small batch of jam? And what better book to find a recipe for this than Amy Bronee’s The Canning Kitchen? I reviewed this in 2015 when it came out and have been a big fan of it since, because it takes the intimidation factor out of canning, precisely because all the recipes are small batch. As I said back then:
Yeah, the “tiny batches”. Another thing that makes Amy’s book approachable. None of the recipes makes a whole lot of product. I don’t know about you but so many canning recipes I read make much larger quantities than a 2-person household can consume (even with eager neighbours willing to taste test!) so Amy’s approach – making small batches – is very appealing. Of course, being the queen of minifying, I halved the recipes I made again but because her quantities list weight for the fruit, it’s easy to do.
This week, I chose triple berry jam for the boys to make, though curiously strawberries were sold out when I went to pick them up late on a Sunday evening. So, blackberries it was!
We started out sterilising our jars and lids in boiling water…
(I’m actually wondering if this recipe could use a little less sugar – it’s equal quantities sugar and fruit – but because as the boys reminded me, making jam is a ratio, we didn’t want to mess with it on our first go)
In it goes:
We tried really hard to remove all the frothy scum…
Ok, then, here are supposed to be photos of us carefully placing the jars in the boiling water then topping it up with more boiling water to process the jars as per Amy’s wonderful instructions. But here’s the thing: We don’t own any canning equipment at school so we had to Macgyver a few things. We made wads of paper towel for the tiny jars to sit on in the water so the glass was not directly in contact with the bottom of the pan (and the ridiculously hot hotplates). This was all well and good until we added the jars when the boys reminded me about “displacement theory”. So yeah, we had water all over the countertops, and floor (and yes, on the hotplates). Nothing like a little bit of danger to brighten up a Monday afternoon! Also: no photos 😉
Our jars processed, some of them even “pinged” letting us know they were sealed and I think all of them sealed in the end (ping or not). Some good learning moments for sure (mostly that none of our pots are actually really big enough to can in!) and hey, some delicious jam!
I know that when I enjoy my jar of this, I’ll think back fondly on this session because it had a little bit of everything I love about teaching kids to cook: figuring stuff out as you go, being flexible, teaching them why we do things a certain way, working with what we have and mostly, lots of laughs and smiles.
And hey, if you’re looking to maybe start canning with your kids? Amy’s book is a wonderful introduction to small batch jams and preserves. Much more do-able for kids and novice preservers!
Disclosure: Penguin Canada provided me with a copy of The Canning Kitchen for review purposes. I was not required to post about the book and I have not received further compensation for doing so. FULL disclosure: Amy is a friend but I don’t post about cookbooks I don’t love 🙂
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