I was bitten by the canning bug this summer, what resulted is something I could have never predicted - savage canning fever. Prior to July 2016, I had absolutely no desire to touch anything to do with canning, unless it was taking it off the shelf at the grocery store and putting it in my cart. Then my mom planted a massive and beautifully productive garden. We started talking about canning spaghetti sauce, and beets, because she had rows on rows on rows of them. After that, the googling started. I compiled a massive list of recipes that I wanted to try.
By this point, I was convinced in my mind that we needed a canner. I got my husband on board, mostly because the poor guy can hardly get a word in edgewise when I am excited about something. After a little bit of research, I decided I wanted a pressure canner as it would be more versatile, and make more sense to store ONE huge pot than to store two.
I found myself a used one on Kijiji. A little old lady was getting rid of hers. I was thrilled. I pictured her as being thrilled that a young mom would be taking over her well used canner to help can and serve her own kids healthy and nourishing foods.
And then I got the canner. It was a big, beautiful behemoth. Not only that, it came with all the documentation from when she bought it and in the original box with the original Sears shipping tag, no less.
I was in love. I was holding something in my hands that had been in use for longer than I was alive. I had the Alberta Home Economics Book, with yellowed pages, and a copyright date of 1980. I had a handwritten, faded, sauerkraut recipe. I had the original users manual and parts lists for the canner, circa 1980. I had something really cool.
I couldn't wait to get started. 244 jars later, I had worked my way through all the normal recipes, and then came up with this one.
This Chai Jelly is the warm spice of fall in spreadable form. It is absolutely divine on my vanilla biscotti.
** The finished product photographed is Chai Jelly - the step by step photos are of Vitality Tea Jelly - recipe and result are the same, the flavour is dependant on the tea used! **
Step 1: Mise En Place - Putting in Place
I find the most important part of canning is having myself organized.
I always make sure my counter tops and stove top is clear of anything that can get in my my way, followed by a quick clean of all surfaces.
Once everything is clean, I collect my ingredients and have them ready:
2 cups filtered water
5-6 good quality tea bags
3 cups of sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 packet of liquid pectin ( opened and stood in an empty jar)
And my equipment:
Canning equipment; magnetic lid lifter, funnel, scoop, and jar lifter.
Boiling water bath canner
Jars and lids (This recipe requires 4 half pint (250ml)
For this recipe, I simply placed 2 cups of water in a large pot along with my 5 tea bags, covered and brought to a boil, removed from heat and set aside to steep for 30 or so minutes. Make sure it's a large pot as this jelly tends to bubble up quite large while cooking the pectin.
Meanwhile, I gathered my remaining ingredients.
I also washed all my jars in hot soapy water, and placed facedown on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat in a 225f oven to sterilize along with the lids.
I set up my canning area to be as complete and compact as possible - you'll see in the sixth photo that I've got my rings to the left out of my way, a dark dishtowel spread on the counter to catch any drips and to buffer the temperature change between hot glass jars and my cool granite counter top, my funnel and scoop are in a large flat bowl to keep them off the counter and catch drips, my magnetic lid lifter close to the stove on the right hand side, and my jar lifter close at hand. I've also set out a small pot holder, so that when I remove my jelly from the heat, I can place it directly in front of me in my work space.
This is also a good time to fill up your boiling water bath canner with hot water, cover and bring to a boil - that much water takes some time to heat! Make sure to add enough water that your jars will be covered by at least an inch of boiling water.
Step 2: Sweet! - Time to Add Sugar
After the tea has steeped for approximately 30 minutes, remove tea bags, and discard.
Add the lemon juice.
And the sugar.
Whisk or stir until incorporated.
Step 3: It's Getting HOT! - Time to Cook
Bring the entire mixture to a hard boil - a boil that you can't stir down.
Add your packet of liquid pectin.
Boil hard for 1 minute - remember that's a boil you can't stir down.
Remove from heat. Place on the pot holder we so thoughtfully placed in our canning area earlier!
Step 4: Transferring Out - Time to Fill the Jars
Use a grippy oven mitt to remove jars from the oven, and line them up on your dishtowel.
Carefully set your funnel on each jar and ladle in the hot jelly into the hot jars.
Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet cloth to remove any rogue jelly.
Step 5: Close Up Shop - Time to Seal!
Using the magnetic lid lifter, reach inside the oven and grab each lid, one at a time.
I find it helps to grab the lid and then slip the ring down over the lid lifter, as seen in the second picture.
Snug up the rings finger-tight. Since I have no idea what finger-tight means, I twist the rings without touching the jars until they start to spin, and then I back off the ring approximately a quarter turn. This has worked like a charm for me through all my canning over the past few months.
Step 6: It's All a Process - Time to Can
Open the lid of the canner, carefully, and using the jar lifter, move the jar from your canning area to the canner. (The water should be or close to boiling at this point)
Close the lid.
Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.
At the end of the timer, turn off the heat, open the lid, and leave open until water stops boiling and settles down - like in the fourth photo.
Using the jar lifters, carefully lift each jar out of the canner and set on a dish towel on the counter.
Leave undisturbed for 24 hours - at this point check the seal - I remove the rings and pull up with all my might, an unsealed jar will give right away, a well sealed jar won't break the seal.
Step 7: Yum!! - Time to Enjoy!
I'm busy dreaming up ways to eat this delicious jelly. But the first one I came up with was with cream cheese on a homemade biscotti, and it was amazing. I think I'll be giving that as gifts at Christmas - a batch of biscotti and a jar of Chai Jelly!