Anyway. Other than the gathering of supplies, the rest went smoothly. I'm really glad I took the class, as otherwise the various points at which the book and I disagreed on what to do next (such as sterilizing in the dishwasher instead of on the stovetop) would have really stressed me out. The class gave me the confidence to stride boldly forward in my jam-making.
The best parts for me turned out to be the more physical and/or slightly dangerous bits. Mashing the berries, for example. Such things might seriously annoy me if I had to do this every year in sufficient quantities to feed my family over the winter -- I imagine such activities would lead to a lot of arm pain and/or occasional burns, smashings, splatters to clean up, etc. But in the random make-a-batch-of-jam-when-you-feel-like-it category, it was all good.
It was exciting, watching the berries + sugar + lemon juice + balsamic vinegar + fruit pectin come to a hard boil and then froth up mightily in the pot, making me wish my pot were just a little bit deeper -- but it was just deep enough, as it turned out. And I was very grateful for the invention of silicone-coated tongs that make it child's play (okay, I wouldn't let a child anywhere near this and very carefully scheduled my jam-making for when they were both at school but you get the idea) to lift hot jars out of boiling water. Danger = fun, even if it's very mild danger. Maybe especially if it's very mild danger. :-)
And at the end of it all, jam! What could be better?
Next time, green pepper jelly, a sweet-spicy jelly that is delicious poured over cream cheese, to be eaten with crackers. I'm aiming to make mine twice as spicy as the one we made in class. We'll see how it goes. Now I'm off to buy some cheesecloth