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I suggest you preserve only high-acid foods with a high-sugar content so there is no danger at all from botulism.  That way you can be more relaxed about sanitary procedures than if you were putting up vegetables or other foods in which no sugar is added.


I love the elegant 8.5 ounce Quattro Stagioni jam jars available at the Container Store and online at www.containerstore.com 


In 1809 Napoleon Bonaparte awarded a prize of over 12,000 francs (more than $250,000 in current United States dollars) to a Frenchman who for fourteen years labored to discover a method for preserving perishable foods.  His name was Nicholas Appert, inventor of hermetically sealed jars.  Can you imagine what a boon this was to the nutrition of mankind?  It was Napoleon’s secret weapon.  He could march an army quickly almost anywhere without the necessity of driving herds of cattle, flocks of geese and poultry along with them and without having to forage through winter snows for vegetables. 

Preserves, as they came to be known, also opened the world’s waterways to long voyages of discovery.  Until that time each ship that went to sea was a floating farmyard.  Remember the animals on the boat from the Swiss Family Robinson and the poor plight of sailors with scurvy in Moby Dick?  Now in Mr. Appert’s funny little glass jars, vitamins could be retained for transportable nourishment.   If Napoleon could have kept his secret he might have conquered the world.





            This is by far the most efficient type of jar to use because it gives you a really tight seal.  Preserves will keep at peak quality for up to a year if stored in a cool, dry, dark place.  They do not leak as jars sealed with paraffin are apt to do. I like the one-time use lids that come with the Quattro Stagioni jars, but sometimes use the two-piece lids and ring bands that come with the more common Ball or Kerr brands jars you find in most supermarkets. If using the two-piece lids, know that the outer ring bands may be used again and again, but the inner lids should be used only once.

  1. Before you begin, check your jars to see there are no nicks or cracks.  For my recipes it is not necessary to boil the jars for 15 minutes as one needs to do for low-acid foods.  Simply put the jars through a cycle of your dishwasher or wash them in soapy water and dry in a 225-degree oven until ready to use.  Place the lids (and ring bands if using), along with kitchen tongs, in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil.  Remove pan from heat.  Leave these items in the scalded water until ready to use.
  1. Pour the hot jam into the hot jars to within ¼-inch of the top.  Wipe the rims with a clean paper towel dipped in the scalded water.  Dry with a clean, dry paper towel.  Use the tongs to place the lids on the jars and screw the lids or ring bands on tightly.
  1. Let the jars cool undisturbed on a towel away from any draft.  The lids will make popping sounds as they invert to form a seal.  If any have not popped when cool, press down lightly with your fingers; if the lids stay down, they are sealed.  (If there are any that have not sealed, store them in the refrigerator. They are still useable as long as they are refrigerated.)
  1. When the jars are completely cool, wipe the outside of the jars to clean away any drips.  The jars should sparkle (I use window cleaner on the outside of mine to make sure they do).


      I label my jam-filled jar lids with round self-adhesive labels, then wrap in clear cellophane and tie with ribbon.  Alternatively, for a country kitchen look, you can tie tiny-print fabric over the top and secure with miniature rickrack.  For a more arty, modern look, you can wet cooking or stationery parchment paper and place it over the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band.  When the parchment is dry, use a ribbon to hide the rubber band.  The result is a tight, drum-like seal on which you can use colorful markers to write a special greeting.