Weekly Photo Challenge: Create


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo challenge is CREATE. This is a timely topic, as I was thinking last night about how many things are creative even when we don’t think of them as crafty or artistic.

I decided several months ago that I would try canning this summer.  I’ve thought about this previous summers walking through the abundant farmers’ markets, but I had never thought about it seriously.  The overabundance of ripe berries right now prompted me to buy an enormous amount of them. “It’s now or never” I thought, although I suppose it really is a “now or sometime” sort of endeavor.   I bought 9 cups of raspberries and thought I would start looking for canning equipment.   The berries continuing to ripen in my fridge sent me to the grocery to buy a stock pot and jars last night.   The canning had become “now-or-never” for this bunch of berries.

Looking at various recipes, it seemed so simple:  berries, sugar, boil.   Most steps in cooking are simple, but you have to know the specifics and be precise — and sometimes patient.

I cleaned the new jars and lids, placing the jars in a warm oven and the lids in a pan on the stove.  I started the water boil in the stock pot knowing that it would take a long time to bring the water to a boil.  I was using a 20 quart stock, so it was a lot of water!  I started cooking the berries and 6 cups of sugar.

One has a lot of time to think when stirring 9 cups of berries, but this isn’t a job to leave unattended.  They hold their shape for a few minutes, but they quickly turn to a mush as you stir.   Just as quickly, the sugar begins to melt and before long you have a pot of warm berry liquid.

A slow process

The recipe called for stirring frequently until the mixture thickened, about 10 – 15 minutes of boiling. It started a very slow boil and maintained this for about 5 minutes. A bubble would rise and pop, rise and pop, but it wasn’t a full on boil for a long time. Then, it was very bubbly and as liquid as juice.

The faster boil continued for about 5 – 7 minutes. Suddenly, the tone of the boil changed. I looked up to see that the mixture, while still very runny, was beginning to change slightly in tone, and appeared very seedy. I continued to stir and continued to refer to the recipe.

“How is this suppose to look? What does it mean that it will fall off like a sheet?” I thought. “Will I know when it is done?”

After 10 minutes, I put a teaspoon of the mixture on a chilled plate, as instructed, and put it in the freezer for 1 minute. The edges were suppose to crinkle and appear set. They didn’t — so back to the boil. I tried again in 5 minutes. This time I understood — it was exactly as described. I stopped the boil and took my jars out of the oven.

I filled each jar carefully, glad that I had bought the jar grip set with the wide-mouth funnel. It made the messy task easier. I carefully filled the jars, measured the distance between the preserves and the top of the jar, and put the lids and rings in place. The water was boiling now in the canner and I carefully lowered the jars, put the lid on and waited. “A watched pot never boils”. Or so it seemed.

Finally, I heard the unmistakable sound of water roiling in a pan over fire. I set the timer and began to clean up the mess I had made in the kitchen. I had just a bit that hadn’t fit in the jars and I could see that it was setting up the way you expect preserves to congeal. After the kitchen had been cleaned and the jars cooled, I treated myself to a spoonful of it on top of a scoop of ice cream. Yum!

More than I can eat in a year

The 11 jars of jam — one jar didn’t make it through the boiling process, the lid having come loose — are lined up on my counter. I heard a few of them “ping” last night as they cooled, the created vacuum pulling the lid securely in place. I can’t wait to open one of them to eat. In a few weeks, once I’m sure that this worked the way it was supposed to and I don’t have 11 jars of spoiled preserves, I’ll likely give a few of these away.

This isn’t the type of thing that I usually create. While cooking can be enjoyable to me, often it is just a task. Engaging in a process like this though — going from berry to jam — is a creative act, one that I’m glad I tried. Although it isn’t difficult, it takes a long time in a hot kitchen. I don’t know that I’ll do this regularly, but I’m ready to try a few other canning adventures. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this creation for many months with the occasional small bit of raspberry jam on my toast.

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About Anne Camille

I bought my first SLR camera (a Yashica TL-ELECTRO) when I was 17 and imagined I would become a great photographer. My love of photography, unfortunately, was thwarted by a photo-journalism class (the first "C" in college, but not the last!) as well as several packages of accidentally exposed photo paper and the high cost of film on a student budget. An unexpected gift of a Canon Rebel xSI four years ago reawakened those old, dormant dreams. A bit wiser now, I knew that photog instructor was full of bs even if technically he was pretty good. I began snapping away and haven't looked back. Mostly, I shoot nature photography because flowers and rocks don't talk back at you when you pose them. I am a photographer, a reader, a writer, a thinker, a dreamer. Mostly you'll see the photographer here, but signs of the others shine through every now and again.
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27 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

  1. smithereens says:

    Your jams look great! It seems that everybody is thinking of doing preserves these days ;) !
    I wish I could get my hands on enough raspberries to make a few pots… here they’re crazy expensive for a handful. I rather stick to strawberries and apricots.

    • Anne Camille says:

      I found a great deal on the raspberries, but found that I didn’t have enough for my recipe. I went to the grocery to get two more pints and spent twice as much! What a difference 48 hours makes. Local crops are done now. Back to the imported/greenhouse raspberries until next year!

      But — plums are next in season. I think there is plum jam in my future!

  2. Wow – quite a process! Glad you saw it through, and hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of all that labor!

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  4. Jo Bryant says:

    My preserve making still needs some work to get the results i want I am afraid

  5. eof737 says:

    It looks divine. Good for you!

  6. livvy30 says:

    This reminds me of summers at home and my Mum making jam!

    • Anne Camille says:

      I don’t remember my mother making jam, but she told me on the phone yesterday that she would love to have some of this — and that it reminded her of her mother!

  7. Raspberry is my ultimate favorite. Looks good!!

    • Anne Camille says:

      I feel ready to take on strawberry preserves, now, but the season has ended here. Would have to use imported ones, which can never compare with the fresh just-picked ones.

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  9. nelson RN says:

    Oh my, I love raspberry jams! My toasts would love them!

    • Anne Camille says:

      See my comment above to Jo — I’ve been wanted to try on toast but haven’t had any bread! Bought some this afternoon, so I know what I’ll be having with my coffee in the morning!

      • nelson RN says:

        I have straberry jams, orange jams, and so many other jams… but no raspberry jams! I still have to try that! Oh, I’m salivating!

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  11. What a fabulous thing to create for yourself! Some of my fondest summer memories are of making jam in the kitchen with my parents. Eventually, we would firmly but gently be shooed out as the boiling process reached its peak and timing was critical. I loved watching from the counter, though. Oh, and there is no better sound than that “snap/ping” you hear as the jars seal!

    • Anne Camille says:

      At first I didn’t understand what all the recipes I read meant by “wait for the satisfying ‘ping’”. Duh! I understood as soon as the first one pinged.

  12. Rosa says:

    quite time consuming but very rewarding.

  13. You have created delicious raspberry jam! Very nicely done, both the photos and the text. I’d love to taste it, Anne :)

  14. Madelaine says:

    Looks delish….beautifully shot too!

    • Anne Camille says:

      Thanks, Madelaine. Getting decent shots of food — ones that look appetizing — is much harder than I first thought it would be. These aren’t the best compositionally — or really all that interesting — but I thought they turned out okay as something to document that process.

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