Sunday night, I decided to rid myself of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) peaches camped out in the fridge and make some jam. To make it more fun, I decided to have the kids help me. Yes, I had my 5-year old child with a vision impairment and my almost-three-year-old help me can. You know what? You, and your VI kiddo, can too.
First, our recipe: Ginger-Peach Jam from Allrecipes.com. You can get the recipe we used here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Ginger-Peach-Jam/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=ginger%20peach&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page&soid=sr_results_p1i1
Next, some additional tools:
1) A cutting board for each helper.
2) A knife for each helper. Whilst fundraising for Trolley Run, I bought two “My Safe Cutters” from Pampered Chef for the kids. (You can buy one here: http://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=9761&words=kid) This was our first real test of the product, and I have to say, it was about perfect. The tip is rounded, so they couldn’t stab themselves. It’s a serrated blade that works to saw through items, but didn’t cut straight down quickly and easily like my paring knife. In short, it was the perfect tool for my two little helpers to get to cut up some peaches and develop manual dexterity and cutting skills.
3. A hot water bath canner with a can lifter, or, if you’re feeling daring, any pot that will allow you to put your jars in and have 2″ of boiling water above their lids. (Seriously–you can use a dutch oven if you want. A canner’s just more convenient.)
4. A small sauce pan to boil your lids in. (The lids have to be hot. The rings don’t.)
5. A lid lifter. (You don’t want to burn yourself getting the lids out.) Mine is a cool magnetic tool that Efrit picked up for me for about $2 at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. You can pay about $20 for one that’s marked for canning at a specialty store if you want.
6. A funnel. Not really necessary, but it makes filling small-mouth jam jars easier. Mine’s bright yellow and came from O’Reilly’s.
7. Tongs to lift your jars out of the canner to fill them (the jars need to be hot before they’re filled). I find my metal salad tongs work great, but you can buy a specialty tool for this too if you want.
8. Paper towels to wipe the rims (you want there to be a good seal between the lid and the jar, and jam hampers that if you’ve been messy).
9. Hot pads.
10. A cloth to set your freshly-canned jam on.
11. A ladle or big spoon of some sort to spoon the jam into the jars.
12. About 8 8oz jars. Ball’s are lovely.
Finally, our results:
I think just about anyone can enjoy hot-water-bath canning, regardless of how well they see. It’s a matter of figuring out what works for you and adapting accordingly. I did the bulk of the cooking for this recipe: the crystalized ginger is tough to cut, and there’s no way I’m letting kids as small as mine near the cooktop when it’s got three burners blazing and three pots boiling. Still, as they get older, if they’re interested, I’ll let them get more involved in the process. Someday, Peanut is going to need to be able to feed himself, and if he wants to feed himself with home-canned goodness, more power to him. We’ll just need to figure out how to adapt it along the way.