Have you ever forgotten how to can from one season to the next?

Weeeell, Josh did. He was putting up our first jam of the year, with me sort-of peripherally helping, as I was working on something else, and tossing “helpful” asides from the other side of the room. Then Josh decided to double the batch (doubling a jam recipe is not necessarily a good idea, as jams are generally high in sugar content, and sugar needs careful attention when heated). When it started to boil over, Josh quickly tried to move it, inadvertently spilling half-cooked jam all over the stove top, which then filled the area beneath the burners. That was fun to clean up, which, apparently we did not do as well as we should have.

We moved the jam and the canner to different burners, turned them on, and continued cooking. I say to Josh: “You must stir the jam continuously.” Then, “The canner is smoking!” Josh: “It always does that.” Me: “No. No it doesn’t.”

Then, the canner caught fire!

Stove Fire 3

Truly, it wasn’t that bad, but bright orange flames did spread about the canner, and smoke billowed. That’s when I say, “See! It’s not supposed to smoke!” (In hindsight, instead of touting my righteousness, it may have been more helpful to lend an immediate hand).

So, with our stove afire, once again we moved the canner, and turned the burner off. By that time the flames had died back considerably, so, once again we cleaned the stove, properly this time. All of the stove burner pans were severely blackened and in some cases burned through and ready for the refuse bin, luckily we had more on hand. For the third and final time, we placed the canner and jam pot upon the stove and were able to produce the first strawberry-rhubarb jam of the season.

This is a lesson for those who have canned considerably, and think they can do it with a blindfold on. This was a lesson for Josh, and a lesson my poor kitchen will never forget.

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