Hurry up and do nothing, or maybe just a little

Peanut Butter and Jelly

America’s Favorite Peanut Butter and Jelly

I get ask all the time if there is anything that someone can make that doesn’t take a long time and a whole big pile of equipment. I have the best answer that they could ask for, I tell them that there are many things that they can make and enjoy that doesn’t take time, just a small amount of equipment and money. The first thing you should think about is what does my family enjoy and eat the most? Do you have a big peanut butter and jelly crowd or is it more to toast and jam, how about a bagel with cream cheese and jam. Either way, there are things to make that are delicious and easy.

Cooking Pot

Heavy Duty Cooking Pot

First step is ask everybody what their favorite is, then second favorite. From this list you can get a good idea what to make. Don’t forget to add your favorites to the list, you count also. Now that you have an idea what to cook the next thing to do is go into your kitchen and find a few things. First and most important is a good pot to cook with. This should be a heavy-duty pot (do not use the light weight aluminum pots they tend to stick and burn. After all the effort you have put out, you don’t want it to be spoiled because the jelly or jam stuck to the pot and burned. Most folks will have something that will work. If not check at your local thrift store or Goodwill stores, they usually have all sorts of pots and pans that will do the job and they don’t cost much. Sure it is used, but you are going to clean it really good before you use it. Not to mention the cost of a new pan vs the thrift store one.

Time GroupNext you will need a small timer (important because some thing really need to be timed exactly). You might already have one in a drawer that was stuck there to keep out-of-the-way till you need it. Well time to dig it out, you need it.

Wooden spoons

Long handle wooden spoons

A couple of good long handle spoons will be handy. While you are cooking something that takes a little time. A long handle spoon is needed to keep from burning your self. I prefer wooden spoons because they do not transfer heat like a metal spoon will. If you don’t have one check the Dollar Stores, they might have just what you need and it is a dollar store so the cost is low. You might not these type of spoons, because you are happy with what you have already. No problem, use them.

Next stop for your list items is a good grocery store or whole foods market. I say good store because some of the very small grocers will not care a big variety of products and they might not have what you need for this project. They are great for other things, but for the best jelly or jam you need the variety of a larger store. A couple of hints now on making the best jelly or jam. Only use juice that is not from concentrate. Use real fruit juice for your jelly. Concentrate is mostly water and that is not what you want your jelly made from. Read the label!!!! Every thing you need to know is on the label of every bottle or jar or can and even bag in your store. Next is sugar. For the best results you want to use Cane Sugar. This is sugar from sugar cane and not sugar beets or something else. Cane sugar is by far the best. It doesn’t cost anymore than the other sugar. One more thing you will need is Pectin. Pectin is an item that causes your jelly to set up and sometimes even added to jam to make it thicker. We have tried all different types and companies for our pectin. We have found that our best was bought from Kroger and it was the Kroger brand. It was just pectin and not a big bunch of chemicals that was added to artificially cause your jelly to set up. Several other brands worked but the stores were not easy to get to. So we just used the Kroger because it was not far away. Check around, you will be surprised what you can find.

I know this looks like a lot to do, but it really isn’t, just do some with your every day shopping. It won’t take long and you will be ready to cook jelly! Don’t get discouraged, I know it looks like a lot of things to do, but it really isn’t. If your house is like many others stopping at a larger grocers is usual to pick up some of their special sale items. Thrift stores are checked out all the time to see what new has been added. So keep going it won’t be long till every member of your family is bragging on you because of what you made.

Canning Jars

Canning Jars

You have your juice, sugar, pectin, timers spoons and pot what have we left off? Maybe the most important item in making any canned product, the containers to put the jelly or jam in. You need real canning jars, not mayonnaise jars you have washed. The reason you don’t use left over jars is that  those jars will bust during the canning process. Real canning jars have special lids and rings to seal the jars. They are made just for this purpose, so spend the little that a case cost. The saving in worry and clean up is worth every penny.

Canning Pot and rack

Canning Pot and rack

Jar Lifter2

Jar Lifter

It is almost cooking time! We have one item left that you need. Many try to rig something up to work like this item but they usually fail. The item left is a canning pot and jar holder. The cost for these items are less than $10 and they last forever, almost.This is completely different from your cooking pot. This is a pot made to hold large amounts of boiling water with a rack inside to hold your jars while they process. The jar lifter is to remove jars after they have been processed. You can lift the jars and place them safely on a rack or towel to cool. Do not try to pick up a jar after it has boiled, you will burn your self and probably drop the jar and break it. Things you want to avoid.

Now you are ready! I am going to post Apple Jelly, but you can use any good juice that is not from concentrate will work. The choice is up to you. The Fruit Pectin that we use from Kroger has an insert with recipes and one of the recipes tells you the amounts to use from bottled juice. Check your package before starting because some juices need different amounts of sugar. Take a moment and save your self time and trouble. Jelly that doesn’t jell is a pain, it is just a mess. If you get this don’t throw it away because it works great on French Toast, Waffles or Pancakes. With that covered let’s cook.

Quickie Apple Jelly

Apple Jelly

Apple Jelly

Apple Jelly: 3 1/2 cups juice (sorry I left this out in my first published blog). 5 cups sugar, 1 package fruit pectin, 2 teaspoons real lemon juice. Combine juice, lemon juice and pectin. Bring to boil for 1 minute (time is important). Add sugar and bring back to boil for 1 minute or when the liquid drips from a wooden spoon in sheets. Carefully put into 8 ounce canning jars, fill till you get 1/4 inch from the top. You can use larger jars, but 8 oz. is most common. Next take a damp paper towel and clean the top rim. This makes sure you will get a good seal. Now place the dome on the rim (the dome should be sterilized in a small pot of boiling water. Now screw on the ring till it is finger tight (not too tight or too loose. Too tight and it won’t seal. Too loose and water will leak in and spoil your jelly). Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath with the water at least 2 inches over the tops of the jars. Make sure the jars are not touching the bottom of the pot, they will explode and ruin your whole batch as well as make a mess to clean. Well after the jars have boiled, remove them and place on a cooling rack or towel to set for at least 4 hours. While they are sitting you will hear a popping noise. That is the dome on top sealing. When the jars have completely cooled check to make sure all the lids are sealed. If they are not, the jar has to be reprocessed with a clean dome and a re-cleaned rim.

This looks like a lot of trouble, but it really isn’t after the first time. The next batch will be easier and the next easier still.

Also used for egg coloring at another time of the year

Also used for egg coloring at another time of the year

For a little fun, take food coloring and put a drop or two in the jelly before you seal it. Make sure you mix with a plastic spoon or regular spoon. You can make all different colors of jelly for picky kids that won’t eat store-bought. Make it purple or orange or green, what ever their favorite color is. They will eat it then.

The easiest jam you have ever thought of.

Quick and easy Strawberry Jam from Frozen Strawberries: In your grocers frozen foods section you will find frozen fruit of all types. Let’s start with strawberries because it is the number one flavor in most polls. Thaw the berries in your refrigerator in a bowl big enough to hold the container or bar. Open the bag or box and pour your strawberries into a colander that is sitting in a bowl. Let the berries drain till they stop dripping (stir the berries while they sit to speed up the process). Save the juice!!! Now you are ready to make jam.

Home made Syrup

Home made Syrup

With the juice you can make syrup. Just like the syrup you use on waffles of pancakes or even ice cream sundaes. I posted a blog all about making syrups from all types of juice. Check it out, but come back and finish this blog.By adding fruit syrups to the menu we have just about everything you would want. The blog post about syrups is: just click on the link and you will be taken to the blog. Remember come back for the finish of this one.

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam: 6 cups strawberries, chopped. 1/4 cup lemon juice. 6 cups cane sugar. 1 package fruit pectin. Mix all ingredients except sugar, bring to boil, add sugar, bring back to boil. Carefully put in 8 oz jars. Follow directions about cleaning and placing the domes. Boil in a water bath 10 minutes. Remove, cool, check for seal.

In doesn’t get any easier than that! If you want a little variety mix in some ripe figs with your berries or use some Rhubarb. Maybe even some peaches or blueberries. You get the idea. Just keep the same proportions in the recipe and you are home free.

Remember I said to save the juice from the drained strawberries. This juice  will make great syrup. Just put it in a zip lock freezer bag and save till you get a few cups and make Pancake or Ice Cream Syrup. It’s easy.

Strawberry Syrup on Pancakes

Strawberry Syrup on Pancakes

Strawberry Syrup: 6 cups of Strawberry Juice  (If you like bits of fruit in your syrup, you can use crushed fruit). 3 cups sugar. 3 cups light corn syrup. Combine all ingredients, bring to boil slowly. Stir and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Syrup is now ready for bottles or jars, which ever you decide to use.  Fill the jars or bottles to within 1/4 inch, clean the rims and place lids. Process for 10 minutes. Let cool, the bottles are ready to enjoy. or give for gifts.

Now the big question everybody ask, “How long do these Jams and Jellies stay good?” Well the answer is one that you will like, they last over a year. This is one of the reasons I suggest using 8 oz. jars and not 16 oz. If your house is like ours, things happen. Jars get dropped or spilled and even thrown out by mistake. If this happens the small jar is not a great loss. Just get a new jar from the shelf and every thing is back to the start.

Look around and you will find all types of Juice and frozen fruit to use in your canning. It won’t be long till your pantry looks like ours, wall to wall jelly or jam.

I know you have heard this before but just when I get going it is time to stop. Well if you like this blog and would like more ideas about making thing you buy in the store, let me know and I will do a whole blog about these type of items. Don’t be shy, share this blog with your Facebook Family of Friends. Re-Tweet my blog info. Pass the word around. You might be surprised to get a sample of what your friends and neighbors cook.

New Salsa HatDon’t forget to check out my new blog dedicated just to Salsa. I have recipes for make and eat as well as canning recipes. I will also tell you when a recipe is just for make and eat with a chip. The site is Stop in and check it out. From the looks of the numbers not many are looking. Hard to believe with so many request for salsa recipes that you have not at least peaked. Well there is no time like now as we are at the end of this blog. Bookmark it in your computer, or better still subscribe and you will get new blogs e-mailed to you. While you are at it, subscribe to this blog also.

To make sure that you are keeping up with the latest from both blogs all you have to do is click the subscribe (on the Salsa page it says follow along) bottom on the right and fill in your e-mail address and every blog from that day forward will be sent to your mail box. Really makes it easier to read and keep up. You never know what will come up next. I say that because I don’t know what is next!

Don’t forget…. let me know what you would like to make or any ideas you have for the next blog. Also if you have any questions you would like me to try to solve. Just drop me a note at

Please feel free to SHARE my blog on Facebook or Twitter or even, or any place else you can think. I want to get as many people exposed to the good things as possible. So share and ask your friends to share, PLEASE.

They just might give you something that they made to say thanks for the share. Don’t keep my blogs a secret, pass the word on to your friends, neighbors and family members.Jellyman Hat

Don’t forget, if someone asks you can you can it?

Say YES I can can it.

About Pete Austin & The Austin House

My wife, Mary Lynn and I had a very sucessful canning business for over 15 years, called The Austin House Jams & Jellies. We had to close it due to pure health. I will be writing a blog about some of the recipes, and how to use them. Also some of the interesting, funny, weird things that have happened in our traveling with the business. If you follow me, you will see that I look at things just a little different than others. If you look at the header at the top of the page, you see that I am looking at things. Making sure eveything looks as good as possible.
This entry was posted in Apple, Blackberry, Blackberry Jam, Blueberry, Canning Jars, Cinnamon Sticks, Citrus Fruit, Coconut, Cookies, Cooking, Cream Cheese, Home Made and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hurry up and do nothing, or maybe just a little

  1. Randal Oulton says:

    Quick Apple Jelly left out any apple in it :}


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