I interrupt this long delayed trip report to tell you about my new toy. http://www.amazon.com/Ball%C2%AE-FreshTECH-Automatic-Jarden-Brands/dp/B007CRHPNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369269604&sr=8-1&keywords=ball+jam+and+jelly+maker
It is the “Ball Jam and Jelly Maker” FreshTech machine. Yep. I bought a small appliance. I need another small appliance like Au needs more candy. But BFF was not fulfilling her role as budget minder and instead was filling in at the enabling department. I can justify it though because I found it at my favorite way below retail outlet.
The indiscretion (purchase) happened Monday. Today is Wednesday. I tried it out for the first time. Here is what happened.
Cost of machine $25
Cost of Sugar $3?
Cost of Fruit $10
Cost of Juice $5
Cost of Pectin $7
Total Spent $50
Mr.T’s favorite jam is $4 a jar. He eats about a 6oz jar a week. For the past 3 years I have made him homemade strawberry jam for Father’s Day to substitute for his favorite (super expensive) jam. It is hot, laborious, and although I feel proud and triumphant when I am done, it is a labor, out of love, yes, but labor none-the-less.
Today I tried out my new machine. Ahem, I mean, toy. I washed the thing and followed the directions. I began with low sugar strawberry around 3:30pm. The most difficult part was hulling and smashing the strawberries. That took, whoa, about 10 minutes to do all 4 16oz containers. By 4pm I had jam. Yep. It was about as easy as typing those sentences.
I ladeled it into 2 6oz jars, 1 8oz jar, and had a bit leftover. It tasted pretty good spread on a toasted English muffin. For once, I had jam that set. (The previous 3 years I had a lovely, thick strawberry syrup.)
I did have to wait 30 minutes between batches because the machine has to cool. With the next batch I decided to do regular sugar strawberry jam. At the last moment I decided to pour some vanilla in and make strawberry vanilla jam. WOW. It was amazing. Oh, and just as easy. So, by 4:50pm I had another batch done, didn’t even break a sweat. That batch produced 2 8oz jars and 2 6oz jars. More sugar mant more product I guess. Although neither batch had the yield the recipe stated (4 8oz jars).
Finally, for my last trick (I only stopped because I was out of pectin. I would have made jams and jellies all night otherwise!) I decided to make grape jelly. I only had half the amount of pectin needed so I made a half batch. I think it turned out fine (tasted amazing) but there wasn’t enough liquid to cover the stirrer and the evaporation rate of half a batch is different than a whole. So, I pulled it off early (a little more than halfway through the cycle) and then had to restir it in the jars to get a consistent consistency. I know I have already said this but it tasted amazing. That batch yielded 1 8oz jar and 1 6oz jar. I finished just before 6pm.
So, in summary, I spent $50. I yielded 5 6oz jars and 4 8oz jars for a total of 62oz of jam/jelly. It took me 2 ½ hours, of which an hour was spent waiting for the machine to cool, and an hour and 6 minutes were spent with the machine doing it’s thing. So, I actually spent 24 minutes actively “working”. Mr. T’s jam is 66 cents an ounce. This jam/jelly is 80 cents an ounce but includes the cost of the machine.
Next go-round (since I just ordered lots of pectin from Amazon I’m fairly confident there is going to be some exciting developments like jalepeno pepper jelly, peach jam, blackberry, raspberry, and of course, more strawberry) won’t have that cost factored in so it will be closer to 40 cents an ounce. (Although I just realized I put down $5 for juice but only used a cup and a half of it not the whole container. Oh, well. I am satisfied with the mathematics of the situation.) I have to confess that I am thinking of people to give jam to so that I can make and try more varieties. I cannot in good conscience plunk down $4-8 a jar for gourmet stuff but I can sure spend a buck or two trying out exotic flavors like peach melba or pomegranate. Yum!