I love homemade gifts! Call it crafty or from your kitchen, homemade is awesome.
If you're still looking for homemade gift ideas, why not make a few batches of homemade jam or jelly this year?
Rachael and I tested out the Ball FreshTech Jam Maker and had a blast! We tried new recipes and learned just how easy it is to have a delicious treat in less than 30 minutes.
Here's what we did and some tips for your own homemade jam-making session.
Choose Your Recipes
The Ball FreshTech Jam Maker comes with a handy recipe book, all proportioned to work perfectly in the machine. We made Vanilla Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Balsamic Jam, Pepper Jelly and Pomegranate Jelly. Really, this is the hardest part. We seriously considered making every single recipe in the book, just so we could taste test them all.
Gather Your Ingredients and Supplies
Use fresh produce for the best results. Gather your 8-ounce jelly jars and lids and rings. For hot water processing, you'll also need a large pot with a rack and tongs. A large spoon, spatula and wide-mouth funnel help with the transfer. Don't forget the Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin.
Rinse and chop your produce for jam. Jellies typically just call for unsweetened juices like grape or pomegranate. Sprinkle the pectin in the pan. Add the ingredients. Press a button. About 4 minutes later, you'll add the sugar and the machine does the rest!
We watched the first batch as the stirrer mixed the strawberries and pectin. Yes, all the sugar does get mixed in. The sticky goodness gets heated and stirred until BEEP-BEEP! You have hot jam ready.
Store your yummy jams or jellies in the freezer for up to a year. Follow these canning instructions if you want to store your creations on a pantry shelf. We opted for the obvious way to enjoy... eating and sampling all our efforts immediately.
Read the instruction book and the recipes before you start.
Invite a friend over to help. While one batch is cooking, you can be prepping the next recipes or warming up the jars. Since you don't have to stand by the stove and stir, you actually have time to visit.
We noticed the balsamic vinegar made the recipe bubble up right to the edge. Best not to step too far away if you're using this recipe.
Be bold and try new things. With a minimal investment of your time and the ingredients, you can afford to try new recipes.
This Vanilla Strawberry Jam lasted less than 24 hours at my house. Toast, pancakes, straight from the jar...the vanilla makes this sooo delicious! Run to Costco and buy up vanilla beans. You can thank me later.
I warmed up the Strawberry Balsamic Jam to serve with a Pepper Pork Roast. It's still a sweet sauce, but not "dessert" sweet, a nice addition to the pepper rub on the pork.
Finally, I tried a couple of tablespoons of the Pomegranate Jelly whisked together with some almond oil, salt and pepper to make a dressing for a spinach salad with pears and pecans and pomegranate seeds. On toast, it tastes similar to grape jelly but it's not purple, said my oldest child.
If you're in the jam-making mood, we want to help you get started. One lucky reader will win a Ball FreshTECH Jam & Jelly Maker from TodaysMama and this gift pack of canning supplies from Ball!
Ball Canning Gift Pack
- 1 signed copy of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
- 1 decorative Gallon jar, a bottle of Ball Classic Pectin
- 5 cases of Ball canning jars
- 1 Ball collapsible funnel
- 1 package of Ball dis solvable labels
To enter, leave a comment below and tell us your favorite flavor of jam or jelly.
Giveaway ends Saturday, December 8th at 5 pm MST. Winner will be contacted by email and have 24 hours to respond.
Congratulations to Diana G from Texas, our Gift Pack winner! Lucky for Diana's neighbors, too! Thanks to all who commented.
Home Canning Basics
Note: We were provided with a Ball FreshTech Jam Maker to review. The delicious jam and jelly and opinions are all ours alone. Okay, we did share some of our jam.