Have you heard of the Freshtech?
I have to admit, when I first heard about this new appliance from Ball, the trusted name in canning. . . well, it just sounded a bit goofy. An automatic jam/jelly maker? I mean really, I’m a canner. . . I spend lots of hours over the stove all spring, summer and fall canning up local bounty. What could an appliance really do for me? But when Ball contacted me and asked if I’d like to try out the Freshtec and give one to a lucky member of my audience I figured “What the heck?”.
So what IS the Freshtech? I mean what does an automatic jam maker do? How does it work? What is the result?
The fresh tech is a self heating pot with a special paddle that will cook and mix your jam or jelly for you. This takes the place of you standing by the stove stirring the pot, checking the heat and checking the gel of your product. It makes a maximum of four 1/2 pint jars of jam/jelly at a time, takes about 21 minutes per batch, and costs approximately $80.Yes, I know that’s quite a bit of money.
Note: This unit does not PROCESS your finished jam or jelly, you still have to either refrigerate, freeze or boiling water bath process your jam.
The Freshtech has both “Jam” and “Jelly” settings and comes with it’s own cookbook/instruction book. There are also recipes specifically for the Freshtech published on the Ball website. The standard batch takes 21 minutes, but you do have the ability to increase or decrease that time. It’s also worthwhile to note that the unit has a 30 min cool down time between batches built in.
For my test I decided to make blackberry jam. I had picked a bunch of them at our friends property and needed to use them before they started to mold! In the book I found the basic berry jam recipe and followed it.
The process to use the Freshtech is simple, but specific. For jams you crush your fruit outside of the unit. You take your measured pectin (Ball sells it in a jar that you can measure out of, or you can crack open a packet and use just the measured amount, which will be less then what’s in the standard box) and sprinkle it in the bottom of the pan.
Note: If you want to make a lower sugar or sugar free jam you MUST use low sugar/sugar free pectin. If you use regular pectin and reduce the sugar your set will fail.
Now add your crushed and measured fruit and your butter (which prevents foaming)–at this point you are leaving the lid off.
The Freshtech will start heating up and stirring the berries and pectin together.
After 4 minutes you will get a loud beep. Add your measured sugar, pop the lid on and walk away!
That’s it! You can use this time to get your jars ready. If you are going to can it, heat your water up and warm up your lids. If you are going the fridge or freezer route, just make sure your jars are clean.
When the Freshtech is done it will turn off the heat and beep again. Then you just fill your jars! I chose to can mine–so I followed the basic steps in my hot water bath canning tutorial.
So what did I think? I was surprised that I actually really liked this machine. It doesn’t seem like having something do the heating and stirring for you would be that big of a deal–but it really did make the process simple. I admit–I won’t be using it for the bulk of my jam making–I tend to do larger batches, most of which are 8 jars or so, sometimes doing 2 batches in series to preserve a serious amount of fruit. But when I’ve got a smaller amount to do–like these blackberries, a few elderberries I’ve picked at a friends house etc–the EASE of using the machine will make it a winner. Couples, empty-nesters, retirees. . . folks who may not NEED a lot of jam but who really love homemade will find that the small batch size is not an issue.
And I really see this jam maker as a sort of “entry drug” for someone who has wanted to start making homemade jams and jellies but is intimidated by the process. I decided to try out that theory by lending the Freshtech to my friend Wanda. She’s a busy working mom who has made strawberry freezer jam for years, but has not ventured in to any of the regular cooked jams. I told her about the Freshtech and asked her if she wanted to try it.
She had about 6 peaches she had picked up at a local fruit stand, so she said she’d love to borrow it and try making peach freezer jam. Two days later she brought it back to my house (along with a jar of peach jam) and RAVED about it. Seriously–she absolutely adored it and wants one for Christmas this year. She said that even though it doesn’t take THAT long to make freezer jam on the stove, well, she’s so busy that there just never seems to be time–but the Freshtech made it so easy–she was able to put everything in and then because it didn’t require constant attention she could get the laundry going, help her son with his homework, start dinner (because she wasn’t using any of the burners!) and still wind up with tasty homemade jam!
Next I’m going to use it to get my mom interested in canning!
Is the Freshtech perfect for everyone? Of course not. For some folks the batch size (and the fact that you have to either buy the bulk pectin or only use a partial box) will be irritating and slow down their process. For others the price will be too steep for something that they can do (albeit with a bit more effort) on their stove in a pot they already own. But I think that for the right folks, this machine can take the fear and the effort out of small batch jam and jelly making.
Now, if you are one of my readers who lives locally to me, you are welcome to come and borrow my Freshtech and try it out. If you live too far away for that you are just going to have to take your chances in my giveaway and hope that you win one!
This giveaway will run from today– Friday September 13th until Friday September 20th. It is open to residents of the United States.
a Rafflecopter giveaway