Today was rainy, chilly, and yucky. Sounds like a good time to spend the day in the kitchen cooking, doesn't it? Yep, I thought so, too. But I wasn't necessarily in the mood to be in there all day alone, and under the guise of making sure James knows how to provide for himself should he come back to Alaska after finishing college, I decided to teach him how to can.
The recent frosts mean the highbush cranberries are ready for picking. Highbush cranberries are a relative of the honeysuckle, and are not true cranberries, so no bogs for us! Yesterday I picked quite a few cranberries and rose hips, but not enough cranberries to make spiced cranberry "ketchup," a thick cranberry sauce that goes well with white meats and wild game. James headed out into the woody area near our house to finish picking the berries we needed to make the sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner:
After simmering the cranberries long enough to make them soft, James ran them through his Great Grandma Ammenheuser's fruit strainer to extract the lentil-like seeds from the juice and pulp.
Cooking down the cranberry and flavorings takes a couple hours, so in the meantime, James started on strawberry kiwi jam. The cranberry ketchup is boiling down on the back burner while James stirs the jam on the front. (Yes, a wardrobe change has taken place. Do not squish cranberries needlessly unless you want to end up wearing the juice. 'Nuff said.)
Jam is pretty much an instant-gratification project. It doesn't take long, it isn't hard to make, and since he was stuck in the kitchen stirring the cranberry reduction anyway, he might as well work on something else, right? Here he is, using Uncle Dan's vintage jar lifter to load the canner with his jars of jam.
Once the jam was out of the canner and the cranberries sufficiently reduced, James ladled the ketchup into jars for its turn in the canner.
We've now got five jars of strawberry kiwi jam, plus some in the fridge for immediate eating, and three jars of spiced cranberry ketchup. We didn't have a really good way to photograph the ketchup, so you'll have to take our word for it that it's delish. But take a look at that jam!