Last week I mentioned I was going to try my hand at canning with Weck Jars – which are from Germany. They come in many different shapes and sizes and unlike Ball canning jars, have a glass lid and a rubber band which seals them when put in a hot water bath.
Having bought my jars I was waiting for inspiration as to what I was going to can. Then, at the market, a 20 pound basket of Concord grapes presented itself to me for the ridiculous price of $20. How could I say know? I new there would be a few pies to be made but mostly I love the idea of making Concord grape Jam, not jelly, I prefer the spreadability of jam and growing up it always seemed we only ever got Grape Jelly. The best thing about Concord Grape Jam is how easy it is:
Concord Grape Jam
De-stem 5 pounds of Concord Grapes and put them in a big non reactive pot with 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the juice of one Lemon. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes until the fruit thickens considerably and either solidifies on a cold plate or the back of a cold soon or reaches 220 F on a candy thermometer. Mine came to about 210 and it’s great, but if you want a really thick jam cook to 220F it might take an hour or more. The cold plate worked fine for me.
Once the grapes have cooked pass them through a fine sieve pressing hard with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure to get out all the goodness.
This is my good friend and canner extraordinaire Michael who was a great help and wonderful company on this afternoon of canning.
The rubber bands wrap around the lids. The lids and jars got boiled for 10 minutes the bands I through in for the last 2 minutes.
Once out of the hot water bath the jars are ready to be filled – be sure to leave 1/2 room at the top.
Attach the rubber bands to the lids and place on top of the filled jars. Then attached the metal clips.
Then back into the hot water they go for 10 minutes.
All done! I let the processed jars sit out over night and I don’t wipe off any water on the lids or anything until they have come to room temp. The tab on the rubber band should be facing down if there is a successful seal. To make sure the seal is good take off the clips and lift the jar from the glass lid if it is sealed the jar will come with it – if not the lid will just come off. In this case just re-process or keep in the fridge for immediate use.
Weck jars are more expensive than Ball jars but they look way more special (to my eye). Most importantly and the reason Weck has become so big in this country of late is that unlike the Ball jar lids there is no BPA to worry about. Which is a controversial, carcinogenic chemical used as a sealant on the rim of the Ball lids. Weck has even go so far as to advertise this on the front page of their website with a red banner on a green badge that states: 100% BPA Free!
Like Ball lids the rubber bands on Weck Jars needs to be replaced every time you use them.
The clips used for the water bath can be removed after being processed although I like them and I find it’s a great way to secure the glass lid. If however you don’t want to be bothered with either the glass lid or the clips Weck provides a plastic top that can be used instead, these are available at The Brooklyn Kitchen as can all your Weck supply needs.
Having done canning in both Ball and Weck jars I think that the Weck jars are way prettier and make nicer presents and don’t have BPA. I think the Ball jars are much cheaper and more practical if you are canning a lot of stuff that is mostly for your pantry and so it doesn’t matter what the jar looks like and besides any body who is given home made canned good is going to be happy regardless of the container!
As for the BPA issue, I think if you are doing baby food or are pregnant use Weck, if you use Ball just be sure to leave ample space between the lid and it’s contents and NEVER turn the jars upside down so the contents of the jar and in contact with the lid for an extended period of time.
In a large nonreactive pot add 2 cups of cider Vinegar and 2 cups of sugar and bring to a boil. Add to this 4 pounds of Italian plums, pitted and chopped, 2 Large Onions, roughly chopped, 1/2 cups of finely chopped Prunes, 3 Tablespoons of freshly grated Ginger, 2 Tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds, 2 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground Clove, 2 garlic cloves finely chopped and the roughly chopped zest of one Lemon. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened – about 30-40 minutes.
This recipe is adapted from on by Sherri Brooks Vinton’s amazing book: Put ’em Up!