Part I: can-NOT....
This summer I felt the sneaking suspicion that I might be a culinary canning genius. This assumption was completely unfounded as I have never before canned anything, let alone seen it done! But after reviewing several books borrowed from the library, consulting my friend, Lily (a seasoned canner), and borrowing a giant pot from my aunt, I tried my hand at making and canning strawberry jam.
The part I was most apprehensive about was immersing the cans into the pot to seal, for some reason, this seemed really intense and stressful to me. Well, it started off well enough... easy ingredients... strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, you mix and mash it together and then let it boil up. It was at this point in my efforts that things went all awry. The instructions told me to let the mixture simmer on the oven for fifteen minutes. I took these fifteen minutes of down time and sat outside, where there was a breeze (much appreciated after the hot kitchen), and flowers to be watered. When I walked back into the apartment I was overwhelmed by smoke and the sweet, sticky smell of burning sugar! I rushed to the oven to see a thin layer of boiling red goop covering a thick layer of black caramelized char! I quickly poured the so-called jam into my awaiting jars and tried in vain to scrape the chunks of strawberry from the bottom of the pan. I was so flabbergasted and aghast by my situation that I just plopped my jars into my sterilizing pan and presto, my cans were sealed! (well, more like ten minutes later, my cans were sealed).
In the end I had six jars of off-colored jam with a layer of foam on top (In my rush, I'd forgotten to skim the top layer off the jam, woops), and a giant, borrowed, pan with a solid layer of black char adhered to the bottom!
Since this unfortunate first attempt at canning, my culinary skills have improved (but that is a story for "part II"), but I am still stuck with, what is most likely, inedible strawberry jam (without strawberries) and a woefully destroyed stainless-steel pan!