I've been doing a loooooot of research over the last few weeks about canning and preserving. I have finally committed to working out the big scary science of it all and create my own recipes. Why? Because I hate super sweet sugary things AND because I really don't want to kill anyone. Not with jam, anyway. That said, let me dispel a few myths.
- Sugar does NOT stop the formation of the bacteria that causes botulism (as I once told several of you, no doubt). Sugar acts as a jelling agent in jam and helps to prevent mold from forming. Period. You can actually can without sugar entirely. I see lightbulbs going off everywhere.
- The Western U.S. has higher incidences of botulism b/c of our soil quality, bet you didn't know that. (Note to self, MUST stop biting nails immediately.) What most likely causes it are wacky conditions in the cannings acidity, oxygen or temperature. That's why they recommend pressure canning - so that long duration of heat can kill all seven strains of botulism. So......in essense, you don't NEED to boil your jars and submerge them in boiling water for 20 minutes to can safely. It's just that 'they' recommend that you do that so you're absolutely, 100% sure that the bacteria will not find a happy home in one of your cans. I've been known to can sans water bath on occasion.
- Pectin doesn't only come in little packets in the store, you know. Pectin is found IN plants and helps bind their cells and regulate water and all sorts of other cool stuff. Instead of adding store-bought pectin to jams and jellies or using boat loads of sugar, you can add an apple core wrapped in cheesecloth to the jamming pot. This releases natural pectin to the jam without additives.
I can go on and on and on about this topic, but don't want to bore. Email me, if you like. Happy Canning!