I bought myself some snazzy new canning jars. German Weck jars are the pinnacle of canning jars. Like driving a Porsche, these jars decorate your shelves. They are the Tiffany box of canning paraphernalia. I have already added them to my will and Son #1 has specific instructions that they are never to leave the immediate family. These fancy-pants jars are worth it.
Like all worthy things, they are temperamental, feisty, and don’t like to give in easily.
It started innocently enough. I wanted to can my famous peach pie filling (I’m not lying, I make the best peach pie). I bought two quarts of fresh peaches from a farmer’s market. I found ClearJel, a nearly impossible task unless you drive 3 hours to a giant Amish store. And I had a brand new collection of pretty 1L jars from the fine folks over in Germany.
The peaches weren’t the problem. The first snag started with the ClearJel and the filling sauce. It turns out that ClearJel wants to gel…quickly…and very solidly. My brown sugar-almond mix was looking a lot more like taffy than pie filling. So I added an extra cup of liquid in the form of white grape-peach juice and stirred like crazy. Adding the peaches helped too. The juice from the cut pieces of peach added more liquid to my taffy.
Shoving the peach filling into the jar was fun. I don’t have a big-mouth…funnel, that is. So my regular funnel was adding some time to the process. Oh, by the way, the canning directions are all about making sure that you know you have to work quickly and without any air bubbles. Yeah, that was so not happening tonight.
Then there’s the headspace. The recipe called for regular quart jars with 1″ of headspace. That’s the gap of air that you leave at the top of your jar. Well, I had a little bit o’ extra filling that I didn’t want to go to waste so I shoved it in that pretty jar…carefully cleaned the rim…adjusted the rubber ring and glass lid…and plopped it into the hot water bath.
Actually a hot water bath sounds really good right now.
Thirty minutes of processing time later I lifted that jar out of the hot water. Note to self: get a jar lifter for Weck jars. The American lifter doesn’t like to work with the Germans.
My jar was sticky.
Lesson learned. Headspace is there for a reason. It’s called expansion. I guess jelly doesn’t have the same expansive properties that peach pie filling has. Jar #1 will not make a tight seal for storage.
Not to be dissuaded, I had already started Jar #2 and little .25L Jar #3 for any leftovers. Headspace requirements respectfully acknowledged. Two jars in the hot water bath.
Admittedly, many home canners would have scoffed at the idea of using Weck jars, especially for their cost of entry. And rubber rings that have to line up just so? Another speedbump in the canning world. Oh, there are metal clips too. They are fun to wrestle on to the lip of the jar while the glass and contents are boiling hot.
I didn’t give in to the jar. Rather, I listened to its needs and limitations. The jar and I renegotiated our relationship and in the end we both got what we wanted. I’m human, I can learn from my mistakes.
And in the end, I will use these jars again. And again. And again.
It’s not the ease of a project that makes it worthwhile. It’s overcoming the difficulties to reach the successful end goal. It’s the care and patience and hard work that make these jars worth it for me. Just like life, we learn to appreciate the things that we had to work hard for more than anything that is just given to us.