As a mom I am very concerned about the foods and beverages that my family consumes. I read labels and try and steer clear of products that contain ingredients I simply cannot pronounce or don’t know what they really are. I try and buy organic products as often as possible but they are also very expensive. When you live on a tight budget it’s not always possible to buy organic.
I love going to the farm this time of year. All the fresh fruits and veggies in season are abundant and affordable.
I would like to make more things from scratch. I don’t for a few reasons – I don’t know how, I don’t have the necessary equipment and it’s very time consuming.
I’ve always loved the idea of canning fruits and other goodies to keep a stock pile in my pantry. I like the idea of knowing exactly goes into the foods you prepare for your family and that you can keep a good stock on hand which will help save money over time. Sadly I don’t know the first thing about canning or making things like jams and jellies. I have seen videos on YouTube but it seems like a long, drawn out process.
Not anymore! Now you can make fresh, homemade jams and jellies in about a half hour and you don’t need a lot of equipment or supplies.
Kmart sent me a Ball Automatic Jam-Maker to review. Did you know that Kmart has a full assortment of everything you need for canning, which – if you’re a beginner like me – you should know is not very common in big box retailers. Usually you need to go to specialty stores to get your canning equipment, jars, pectin, and food mixes. You can check out all of Kmart’s canning supplies here, http://kmrt.us/KmartCanning.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to try out the Ball Automatic Jam-Maker. From what I read about it online it looked incredibly easy to use… and it is!
The Jam-Maker is not much bigger then a large pot, so it doesn’t take up much room at all.
Let me tell you just how incredibly easy it was to make jelly. I haven’t made jam yet only because I haven’t had a chance to get to the farm yet. When I do I plan on picking up strawberries, peaches and either mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries…) or pears.
The difference between jelly and jam is that jelly is mostly clear and has a JELL-O appearance and consistency. Jam on the other hand has bits of fruit pieces in it.
So far I’ve made Black Cherry & Grape jelly (purple) and Apple Jelly (yellow).
All I had to do was gather my ingredients (fruit juice, sugar and pectin). Next I plugged in the Ball Automatic Jam-Maker. Then I carefully poured in the fruit juice which was pre-mixed with the required pectin into the Jam-Maker. Once the juice was in the Jam-Maker I pressed the “Jelly’ button and hit “enter”. The Jam-Maker then started to stir the juice while the pot heated up. I also added a little butter because it helps with keeping the jelly from getting foamy.
After 4 minutes the machine beeped. The beeps are to prompt you to slowly add in the sugar. Once the sugar is in simply wait for your jelly (or jam) to finish cooking.
From start to finish it took 25 minutes for the jelly to “cook”. Jams take just a few minutes longer (30 minutes).
When the jelly is done the machine will beep again. At that point you need to turn it off and unplug it.
That’s it! That is all there is to it. Don’t believe me? Check out this brief video that shows you how to make Strawberry and Raspberry Jam from start to finish with the Ball Automatic Jam-Maker.
You have three different options when you jelly or jam is finished.
- Store it in your fridge for up to 3 weeks.
- Freeze it.
- Preserve it for up to one year.
Each batch I made yielded four 4-ounce jars. I kept one in the fridge and preserved the rest. Preserving is super easy to to. I have never done it before and I was quickly and easily able to do it. Now I have 3 jars of Black Cherry & Grape jelly and 3 jars of Apple jelly in my pantry (I plan on giving one of each flavor to my father next weekend when we see him).
So far we’ve only been using the Black Cherry & Grape jelly because I only made the Apple jelly last night. Even my skeptical husband loved the Black Cherry & Grape jelly. He was a bit “iffy” about trying it but he did and he loved it, as do my kids. I have to say I really like it too. The Apple jelly needs to firm up a little more before I can try it.
Now that I know how easy it is to make jelly and jam I am going to make a new batch every month. A friend gave me the suggestion of having a “Jam or Jelly of the Month” depending on what fruit is in season and/or on sale. I plan on doing that and sharing my creations with family and friends. For Christmas this year I was thinking of making up gift baskets filled with jams and jellies that I made and some other goodies.
I’ve also tried to calculate how much each jar of jelly cost me to make. I “guesstimate” it at .95 cents per jar. That seems pretty “budget friendly” if you ask me.
The Ball Automatic Jam-Maker is available ONLINE at www.Kmart.com. It is currently not available in stores.
Red Plum will have a coupon for $3 off 2 cases of Ball or Kerr jars and $1.00 off any pectin or food mix. The ad will look similar to this image (below).
Kmart carries a lot of canning supplies for both beginners like me and for experts. Some of the products include;
- 1.5 pint jars – based on consumer demand, just right for hearty soups and longer vegetables like asparagus or cucumbers.
- Ball Sure Tight Band Tool – takes the guesswork out of sealing jars “fingertip tight”.
- Citric Acid (in-store only) - doesn’t change the flavor of tomatoes the way lemon juice does, and is pantry-ready.
- Pectin & Food Mixes (in-store only) - for easy pickles, salsa, pasta sauce, jams & more!
Kmart is also hosting a Twitter Party to chat about canning. The #KmartCanning chat will be held from 12-1pm CT on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. I hope you will join me chat and learn more from Kmart’s canning experts. The hashtag for the chat is #KmartCanning. You can also follow Kmart on Twitter (@Kmart) but you do need to use the hashtag to follow the chat. For more information or to RSVP please visit http://bit.ly/Lf5Zrn.
If you would like to check out some delicious jam and jelly recipes (and more!) visit www.FreshPreserving.com.
To get you excited about the upcoming chat and the Ball Automatic Jam-Maker I have a Ball Canning Discover Kit to give to a lucky reader. You can read more about it here, http://kmrt.us/BallDiscovery. The kit includes;
- Polypropylene rack with separate, fitted lifter that works in large stockpots at least 7½” tall and 9½” in diameter.
- 3 x 1-pint jars.
- Illustrated, simplified canning instruction Recipe book.
To enter: Leave a comment on this post and tell me you favorite flavor of jam or jelly.
Extra entries: After you have completed the initial entry requirement (above) you are welcome to use the Rafflecopter (below) for extra entry options.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on June 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail.
*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way. Kmart will be providing the prize package.