Ball FreshTech Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker
Think of the Ball FreshTech Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker as a crock-pot for the PB&J preserve-obsessed. The plug-in electric cooking unit has two push-button settings for jam and jelly. Add fruit, sugar, and powdered pectin to a removable non-stick cooking vessel, pop the glass lid on, and pick which of the two toast toppings you prefer. An automatic paddle churns ingredients as they cook on a heated base, relieving you from the burden of constant stirring (a common gripe for those who preserve fruit on a stove the old-fashioned way.) Once you're ready for your jelly, the finished product must be ladled into sterilized glass jars for extended shelf life. A few bags of frozen strawberries were processed into jam in about 20 minutes, while two pints of apple butter took under an hour to complete. Parts are dishwasher safe and clean up is quick. At about 15" wide and just under 7 pounds, the appliance is not exactly compact, but it beats the risk of standing over a stockpot full of scorched berries. And for those into preserves, that's a godsend. [$100; freshpreservingstore.com]
Preserves Made: Apple Butter, Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Nitpick: There's an emphasis on adhering to the included recipes, many of which call for the use of butter or margarine. It's an unorthodox addition, but the results are sure to make you a convert.