Both the syrup and the jelly are canned using a water bath, and so I decided to multi-task. Water bath canning is a very easy task on a wood cookstove, and I actually think that it is a job that is easier on a wood cookstove than on a gas or electric stove because the cooking surface of most wood burning ranges is so large. This blog post documents what I did and shows my method of water bath canning on a wood cookstove.
First, on the right side of the stove (the part that is farthest away from the fire in our stove), I placed a metal rack from some long-forgotten appliance. This rack is more sturdily constructed than your average cooling rack since it was designed for some kind of oven, so I use it on the top of the cookstove for various reasons. On this particular occasion, I didn't want to put the frozen pots right on the stove because the temperature difference would be extreme and could cause damage, but I wanted to hasten the thawing of the raspberries.
|Two pots of frozen, cooked black raspberries thawing on the cool|
section of the cookstove. The rack that they are resting on is
about one inch tall.
|The syrup is coming to a boil over the front of the firebox; the |
chicken is behind it.
|Water bath canner now placed over the back of the firebox. The|
syrup was now boiling.
|Testing the syrup for doneness.|
|A picture to show that the canner is sitting directly over the fire.|
|Putting the syrup into the jars and the jars into the canner. |
By this time, the frozen fruit had thawed enough to put the
kettles directly on the stovetop.
|A shot of the fire at this time. Obviously, I didn't need a raging|
fire to do the water bath canning. You can see that the majority
of the fire is placed to the rear of the firebox beneath the canner.
|Seven pints of pancake syrup boiling in the canner.|
First a word or two about making jelly on a wood cookstove:
Making jelly demands an intense heat under the jelly pot because you need a full rolling boil. In my experience, if it takes too long to reach this kind of a boil, the jelly can be ruined because too much steam escapes and changes the proportions of the mixture. In some instances, even though I've had a very hot fire underneath the jelly, it takes a long time to reach the full rolling boil that is needed. Thus, not only did I have less than perfect jelly, but it was also taking too much more time to make jelly over the cookstove than it did to make it over a gas or electric stove. I have solved this problem by removing the stove lid beneath the jelly pot. The pot is then directly over the fire, the cooking time is reduced, and the boil is much quicker.
As a side note, each of the stoves that I have used has had a traditional stove lid configuration on the cooktop. Therefore, removing the lid to cook directly over the fire is easily accomplished. There are several stoves on the market today (Kitchen Queen, Pioneer Maid, Ashland New Decade, Flameview--to name a few) which do not have the old-style, removable lids in their cooktops. If you, dear reader, happen to make jelly on one of these stoves, would you please leave a comment and tell me about your method--or whether this is an issue for you at all? I want this blog to be an information clearinghouse for all things cookstove, so your input would be helpful.
|The jelly is to the left. Because the canner and the jelly kettle are|
too large to have the lids removed under both of them, the middle
rear lid is removed and is under the teapot. The lid from beneath
the jelly is on the stove's floor pad.
Some astute observers may notice that I don't have jars sterilizing in another pot of water. I've read that if you water bath anything for ten minutes or more, you don't have to worry about sterilizing jars, so that's what I do now. I haven't had any trouble with sealing or spoiling using that method, and the set of the jelly remains unaffected.
In some respects, I prefer using Certo for pectin when making jelly on a cookstove because the order is reversed. When you use Certo, you bring the sugar and juice to a full rolling boil and then add the pectin. Therefore, while it takes longer to get to the initial boil, getting to the second boil takes very little time.
|The jelly boiling after the sugar has been added.|