Award-winning West Virginia grandma shows how to make jam

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – On any given day, you’ll find Ella Hoffman in her kitchen. The grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother to 3, is affectionately known as “Momaw.” Her kitchen is full of family pictures, flowers, and cans… lots and lots of cans.

“Back in the day, my momma and my grandmother taught me how to do this,” explained Hoffman. “People don’t have to can anymore, it has sort of become a lost art.”

Miss Ella is talking about canning, something she has been doing since she was a little girl. She cans all sorts of foods, from tomatoes to green beans and everything in between.

In addition to canning, she is also an award winning jammer and she has the ribbons to prove it. But she wouldn’t tell you that — she’s not a bragger.

Her husband, Steve, will tell you though. He is very proud of his wife. “Do you know she has won awards?” he asked with a big smile. “You are learning from the best.”

Learning from the Best

Miss Ella graciously agreed to walk me through the process of making her famous peach jam. “It’s easy and simple.” She added, “And really really tasty.” It seemed fitting as Miss Ella herself is a real peach — she is sweet and kind, and patient — trust me, oh so patient.

Sweet as a Peach

Miss Ella says she enjoys making peach jam because it reminds her of her mother, Ida. Hoffman recalled a time, just before her mom passed from cancer, that she took home old peaches from her mom’s house. “That was the first time I made jam right here in this little kitchen.”

She threw the pits of the jam over her hill. Now every year, a peach tree blooms in her backyard. “It reminds me of my momma.”

Try it for Yourself

From start to finish the whole process took less than an hour. It seems more complicated than it actually is. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too.

Step One: Bring Peaches to a Boil

We started by putting the peaches into boiling water. This process helps with the peeling of a peach, which according to Miss Ella would take a while. This trick really worked and made the next step really easy!

Step 2: Peel and Pit the Peach

Because we already boiled the peaches, the skin came off in one try! From there you split the peach down the middle, and get rid of the pit. Miss Ella says to remove the pit with your hands and not a knife, just to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Step 3: Smash the Peach

“This part is good for frustrations,” Hoffman said with a smile. “Got any worries… this will get them out for sure.” Take the peach, and while using a fork, smash it up.

Step 4: Stir the Peaches on High Heat

From there take the mashed up peaches and put them into a big pot on the stove, with the heat on high. Add a tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 5.5 cups of sugar, and 1 box of sure-jell. Mix it up. When it comes to a roaring boil, stir for one whole minute.

Step 5: Prep your Jars

In the meantime, you should prep your jars and or cans. Miss Ella preps her by washing them in extremely hot water. She then fills each one with hot water to prevent them from cracking when filled with hot jam.

Step 6: Transfer Jam into Cans

This one pretty much explains itself, right? We used a funnel to make sure we didn’t make a mess! Fill the jar the whole way up.

Step 7: Seal Lids

Again… pretty self explanatory, right? Wipe the top of the can/jar to make sure it is clean then seal tightly.

Step 8: Put Full Jars in Hot Bath for 5 minutes

This ensures that the jars are tightly sealed. Keep them in the hot water for 5 minutes.

Step 9: Let Cool

This one explains itself. Be careful, the jars will be hot!

Step 10: Label (with Love)

Miss Ella says to always put a label on it!

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