Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lessons Learned from Canning

Last weekend I did some yard work, and trimmed our clementine bush/tree. But before doing so, I had to harvest the fruits that were ready to be picked and we ended up with a HUGE surplus of these tiny, tangy clementines (or tangerines or mandarin oranges... I'm not sure of the differences between all those).

There was no way we could finish them all before they started to get weird, so I decided now would be a good time to start getting practice with preserving the literal fruits of our labor. I did some research online and came across one of my current favorite websites/blogs: Food in Jars. If you're new to canning like me, it's the perfect place to read all the info you could ever need! There's a series of posts called Canning 101 and they are SUPER helpful for us newbies!

So after some reading I decided to jump right in. I boiled the clementines to soften the fruit, let them cool overnight, and started the real process the next morning, following a recipe I found for Clementine Marmalade. I'll make another post on how it turned out, but here are some lessons I learned in the process:

Lesson #1: Hot Glass Looks Like Cold Glass

I really shouldn't have to keep relearning this one, considering I'm 1) an adult, 2) a chemist with years of lab experience, and 3) the daughter of a glassblower. It's a simple, SIMPLE thing to learn but I just can't seem to avoid burning myself when I'm dealing with glass. So if you're a dumbo like me, remember that glass cools very slowly (slower than you think it does) and when you pour hot stuff (like jam or marmalade) into a glass jar, the glass will ALSO be hot.

Lesson #2: Sugar is Water-Soluble

I accidentally let the pot of boiling soon-to-be jam boil over. Twice.
Both times it made a huge, sticky, orange mess all over the stove and countertop and floor and sink. Today just wasn't my day, I guess. But the good thing about working with this stuff is that sugar is totally water soluble! So, everything could be cleaned up very easily with a warm washcloth, and the kitchen was good as new... until I let it boil over the second time. *sigh*

That's it for today's adventure. I'm letting the marmalade cool overnight and hopefully I'll have positive news to share tomorrow!

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