One thing I sometimes forget in the busyness of life is how important it is to teach our children the home arts. My kids can cook, but I haven’t taught them much about food preservation. When I was in high school, I was instructed in canning quite regularly and spent many hours (grumbling in my head about the injustice of it all) in a steaming hot kitchen in July and August helping my parents can green beans, make jam and pickles, and shelling peas to freeze while my peers were swimming in the Thornapple River.
But now I’m glad I have these skills, and I was reminded recently about how important it is that we all teach the home arts to our sons and daughters. So when I had enough cucumbers for another batch of salt brine fermented pickles, I told one of our daughters how to do it and set her at it. She did a good job, and I’ll be sure to praise her when we open that jar of pickles to eat them.
Later that day I decided to teach another child how to make and can strawberry rhubarb jam (if you’ve never canned anything before, you might find the Ball Jars website very helpful). I found that at just shy of ten years of age, she was able to handle nearly the entire job from start to finish with some minor help and plenty of supervision.
Here is how to make a small batch of strawberry rhubarb jam for canning:
2. Assemble your ingredients:
- 2 ½ c rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 ½ c strawberries, washed/hulled/halved
- the juice from one medium lemon
- 2 ½ c white sugar (can use a bit more or less depending on how sweet you like your jam to be)
- 4 8-ounce glass canning jars with lids and rings
3. Wash and slice rhubarb (Daughter did the washing and I did the slicing).
4. Put it into a heavy-bottomed pot and sprinkle sugar over the top; let stand at least one hour.
6. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook jam until thickened, stirring constantly, 20 to 25 minutes, then remove from heat and stir for three more minutes.
7. Because this recipe has to process in the water bath canner for ten minutes, you probably don’t have to sterilize the jars, but I did so anyway. Spoon the jam into a funnel to fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top, then run a knife around the inside of each jar to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars, then put on the lids and tops.
8. Place the jars on the rack in the bottom of the canner and fill it so that there are a couple of inches of water covering the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.
9. Using a jar lifter, remove each jar and set it on a clean dish towel on the counter to cool for 24 hours, then check to make sure the seal has formed by pushing on the top with your finger.
I was surprised how well she did and I realized I need to spend more time teaching these skills to my children. They feel good about being able to do something helpful on their own, and I feel good knowing that I’ve taught them a useful skill.