It’s jam season again and I have to tell you, I have a delightful new toy. I don’t think I’ve ever loved an object like this before and, though I probably should feel embarrassed, it makes me a little giddy and a little evangelical. Meet…my steam oven. Nestled in there among those Shaker simplistic cabinets, it’s a modern (futuristic?) gadget that I use daily. It does it all – bakes, blanches, dehydrates, adds steam to a bread with a press of a button (no more wrapping my arm in a dish towel and adding boiling water to the bottom of the oven!) And, oh my oh my, it makes small batch canning an absolutely delightful breeze. A friend and kitchen designer once showed me her steam oven and, upon learning that it was capable of canning, I began to dream of owning one. Goodbye, vat of boiling water!
When we began to build the house for the homestead, we knew that this appliance would be one of our big splurges. It was hard to find out information about it and, if you’re on a similar journey, I’d encourage you to be persistent in seeking answers. Picture me with a quart canning jar in an appliance store baffling all of the sales reps with my pointed questions. They weren’t able to answer most of them, but I’ve been figuring it out, experimenting as I go. Here are my notes from a few experiences with jam. Adapted from the black raspberry jam recipe from Food in Jars’s Preserving by the Pint, I think you’ll find this a reliable start for your own exploration.
Any berry jam (using a steam oven)
Makes 3 8-ounce jars of jam
30 ounces berries (or two large dry pints)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. lemon
Here’s a sequence that helps you run the steam oven and complete the jam in parallel. (Follow these steps and your jars and jam will be hot at the right times.)
- Prepare your equipment. Find your funnel, ladle, whisk and rubber spatula. Wash three new lids in soapy warm water, dry, and set out. Place three jars upside down on rack in steam oven. If you have a stainless steel funnel, go ahead and place that in the steam oven too.
- Weigh berries and pick through for leaves and stems.
- Remove a large handful of berries and set aside. Run the rest of the berries through your food mill set up with the medium disc. (This won’t remove all of the seeds, but it will remove enough so that the seeds aren’t overwhelming.)
- Add the milled berry pulp and sugar to a wide skillet. Stir until sugar dissolves. Turn heat onto medium high.
- Program your steam oven to sanitize cookware for 8 minutes (212F, 100% steam). Leave the door closed, keeping the jars hot until you’re ready to fill them.
- Jam it. Stir and boil until your mixture hits 220F or passes the spoon drip test. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Five minutes into the boiling, add your handful of reserved, fresh berries. Crush them as you stir.
- Off heat, stir in the lemon juice thoroughly.
- Remove your hot jars from the steam oven. Use the funnel and ladle to fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Place lids on and twist on bands gently. Place in the steam oven.
- Program the steam oven for the canning mode for 10 minutes (or 195F, 100% steam, for 10 minutes.)