Tag Archives: Can Jam

August Can Jam ~ Tomatoes Three Ways

Tomatoes.  There is something about a ripe tomato that simply screams, “Summer!”   Unfortunately, tomato season doesn’t last forever.  Unless, of course, you buy mealy, flavorless, South American tomatoes all winter but that is an entirely different post.  Today we’re talking about preserving the fresh, local bounty that is right outside our doors.  

I planted tomatoes this year, but my uncooperative plants have thus far yielded me only 4-5 tomatoes a day.  This is perfect to keep us in fresh tomatoes for lunch, dinner and small batches of salsa to snack on, but not enough for preserving.  Maybe I’ll have to try this method next year.  Enter, the Farmers’ Market.  Dylan and I walked down to the market this morning to pick up some tomatoes for The Jam.  Even though I knew I was going to buy large quantities of tomatoes, I still didn’t have the sense to bring the wagon with me.  I proceeded to buy a half bushel of tomatoes, a peck of apples, six ears of corn, two giant green peppers, five onions and . . . 

A cantaloupe. 

Fortunately I had Dylan to help me drag the stuff  back home.   We stopped for breaks many times. 

The tomatoes were the best score of my summer market season so far.  I paid $3 for a half bushel of tomatoes!!!  They were seconds, perfect for canning.  She made me promise to use them that day so that they wouldn’t spoil and many of them had blemishes, but none of them were bad and I can’t beat the savings; quarts of tomatoes were $4 or more. 

I promised I’d process the tomatoes today, so I did.  Here you go: 

Round 1: Salsa 

Homemade salsa

At a jar a week, I only need about 46 more.

  • 16 cups peeled tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 cups chopped bell pepper
  • hot peppers, minced; I used a blend. 
    Hot peppers

    These chilies made a VERY mild salsa.

    Several of my own Bolivian rainbow chilies and a couple of mystery peppers from the Farmers’ Market.  I seeded the mystery peppers, but left the seeds in the little peppers 

  • 7 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. cumin
  • scant 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon and/or lime juice

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Chop the onions and bell peppers.  Squeeze most of the water and some of the seeds out of the tomatoes before chopping them.  I used a food processor to mince the garlic and peppers, but I chopped everything else by hand. 
Dump it all into a big pot and bring to a boil. 
Simmer until it reaches a consistency you like. 
Ladle salsa into hot, sterile jars; add lids and process thirty minutes. 

This recipe made ten pints plus a little bowl for us to eat right away. 

Round 2: Sauce 

Tomato-Basil Sauce

The sauce isn't really this yellow, it's actually a lovely orange.

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3/4 C. carrot, chopped
  • 1 C. celery leaves and all, chopped
  • 1/4 C. parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C. chopped fresh basil*
  • 7 lbs. peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T. lemon juice per pint

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
In a large pot, saute onion, carrot, celery and parsley in a little water.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high; add garlic and saute for one minute.
Add tomatoes, honey and basil.  *The basil can be left out if you want a more neutral (read: not Italian) sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If you are going to use this as a pasta sauce, it is fine in its chunky state, but I like to use mine for pasta AND pizza, so I puree mine for a smoother consistency.  If you have a stick blender, run it through the sauce to smooth it out.  If, like me, your stick blender is dead, dump the sauce in batches into your blender and puree until smooth.  Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil.
Ladle sauce and 2 tablespoons* lemon juice into hot, sterile pint jars; add lids and process thirty-five minutes. 

*If you use larger or smaller jars, adjust the amount of lemon juice you add to each jar; the acid is necessary for food safety during storage. 

This recipe made four pints. 

Round 3: Ketchup 

Or is it catsup?

One tiny jar.

Disclaimer:  I have never made ketchup before.  The other recipes are tried-and-true, but the ketchup is an experiment. 

Remember this book? 

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

It has several ketchup recipes in it, but we are canning tomatoes, so I modified the straight-up Tomato Ketchup recipe.  The most difficult thing was adjusting the seasonings; it’s hard to divide fractions of teaspoons.

  • 2 lbs. peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 meduim onion, chopped
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 C.  vinegar
  • 5 cloves
  • 4 allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp, cracked cinnamon stick
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

When the ingredient listing on the ketchup label says, "spices" this is what they mean.

Prepare your jars and boiling water bath.
Put vinegar and spices into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and turn off heat.
Put tomatoes, onions and cayenne into saucepan. Use this to chop up the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Dust off your food mill.  Run the tomato mixture through the food mill and return to the pot.  Add sugar and simmer until volume is reduced by half.  It takes about an hour and a half.
Strain vinegar to remove spices.  Add salt to vinegar and add to tomato mixture.  Boil, uncovered, until thick.  Again, the cooking takes a long time; about another hour but I didn’t boil it on high because I didn’t want to burn it.
Pour into hot jars and process 15 minutes. 

This made one, 8 oz. jar.  I haven’t tried it yet, but if it is good, I’ll make some more. 

Oh, and the chickens LOVE canning season.



Filed under canning, food

July Can Jam ~ Cucurbits (Old-Fashioned Dill Pickles)

Okay, so I had fairly grand plans for this month’s Jam.  I was going to experiment with zucchini.  Or make an exotic pickled cucumber.  But, time got away from me and lo and behold today is the deadline!!!  And, I don’t have time now; there will be time for zucchini and exotic pickles later.  For now, I stuck with an old standby.  I didn’t even have time to take pictures yet; but I will and will add them later.  See, I promised pictures so you shall have pictures!  However, with T-minus-one-and-a-half hours, I just need to get the post up before my deadline (and my bedtime) and not mess around with this antique desktop trying to get pictures uploaded.  (Yes, the laptop is still out of commission.)

Without further adieu:

Classic Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Kosher Dill Pickles
4 lbs. (4″) pickling cucumbers (from both my 9 Bean Rows CSA share and Olds Farm)
6 tbsp. pickling salt
3 c. distilled white vinegar (I always use 4 cups each of water and vinegar since the year I ran short on brine; plus three and three yields a really salty dill.)
3 c. water
fresh dill (from my herb butterfly garden)
21 peppercorns
14 garlic cloves from Olds Farm

  • Clean and sterilize jars and lids; add to water bath and bring to a boil. 
  • Wash cucumbers and cut to desired pickle shape; I did a variety of spears and slices.
  • Combine salt, vinegar and water; heat to boiling.
  • Pack cucumbers into clean, hot jars.  Add three peppercorns, two garlic cloves and a sprig of fresh dill to each jar.  (I need to remember to add way more dill next time.  I didn’t buy any when I was at the Farmers’ Market and had to make do with the dill that grew in my yard.) 
  • Fill packed jars with hot brine to within 1/2″ of jar top and seal.
  • Process in prepared boiling water bath for 1o minutes.  (The book says fifteen but it makes the pickles mushy; read the footnote.)*

This made 8 pints with enough brine leftover for me to make a jar of “refrigerator pickles” which I didn’t process.

You can add more seasoning to make a spicier dill, but if I spice them too much, my kids won’t eat them.  I’ll make another batch for myself later. 🙂

*This recipe is from “Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America” by the food editors of Farm Journal (1964).  I got this book at an estate sale about 15 years ago.  While some safety guidelines have changed over the years, I use this book as a reference and source of inspiration for lots  of canning recipes; I love it.  When I get around to adding the pictures, I’ll add a photo of the book too.  I know.  Boring.  Traditional.  DELICIOUS!

Freezing and Canning Cookbook: Prized Recipes from the Farms of America

Cool, huh? Don't you just want to run out and make a gelatin mold?

Oh, and Tigress, thanks again for getting me back to my blog!

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June Can Jam~ Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

Thank you Tigress!  The Can Jam was just the kick-start I needed to get back to my blog.

The “Hiatus” as it will henceforth be called was an unplanned lull caused by a busy schedule coupled with a lack of motivation and the death of a computer.  I’ll be detailing the causes of the hiatus and all of the very exciting things that happened while I was away in the coming weeks.

However, back to The Jam.  Tigress has a deadline.  In order to be a part of The Jam, this post had to be up by Friday, so I had to get my berries selected and jammed with enough time to get my post done before then.  I am a horrible procrastinator and usually wait until the last minute but I have soccer tonight and a meeting all day tomorrow and Murphy and his stupid laws haven’t been very kind to me lately so I wanted to make sure I didn’t get eliminated by missing my deadline.

This month’s featured ingredient was berries.  Joel and Dana at Well Preserved announced it after the last Can Jam Roundup.  They have lots of helpful tips for berries and jam on their site and it is an excellent blog in general~ you should check it out.  No.  Really.  Go now.

8 qts of strawberries

The first of three lugs of berries from Urka.

Any kind of berry would do, but something local and in-season is preferred.  Lucky me, strawberries arrived early so I got to go out to Urka Farms and pick some last week and again yesterday.  I used the last of the berries I picked last week to concoct this delicious jam.  I love jam in general, but this stuff is soooo good.  I will definitely be making some more.

Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam   Printable Version


  • 1500 g strawberries
    (500 g of mine were whole; the other 1000g were sliced)
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
    (If you read my Rhubeena post, you’ll remember my rant about recipe quantities.  I’ve again included a photo to avoid confusion.  If you didn’t read the ‘beena post, what are you waiting for??)

    Freshly-picked rosemary

    Three sprigs of rosemary about three inches long.


  • 900 g. sugar
  • 9 T. Balsamic vinegar
  • coarsely cracked black pepper; about six turns from the mill or 1/2 tsp.


  1. Place 2-3 small plates in the freezer to chill.
  2. Add berries, sugar and rosemary to a large sauce pan.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil; boil 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Remove mixture from heat and allow to steep from 2 to 24 hours.
    (Or as long as it takes you to pick 20 more pounds of strawberries.)
  5. After your berries have steeped, return the pot to the stove; add balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper and return to a boil.
  6. Prepare your jars and your boiling water bath.
  7. Allow the sauce to simmer at a medium-low heat until it thickens.
    Keep a close eye on the sauce during this process; the jellying point can be easily passed resulting in jam more like taffy than jam.  Test for jellying by spooning hot jam onto a chilled plate; jam is ready when you push it and it wrinkles.
  8. Skim foam from the jam’s surface and remove rosemary sprigs.
  9. Ladle jam into hot jars and add lids.
  10. Process the jars for ten minutes in a boiling water bath.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Rosemary Strawberry-Balsamic Jam

I’m trying to go the pectin-free route with my jams this year (although I might crack and make one batch of freezer jam because it is yummy) so this jam is a longer-cook variety.  The result is a really dark, rich jam.  The balsamic vinegar also adds a depth of color to the finished jam.  My photo doesn’t do it justice but the color is amazing.

The rosemary is very subtle but after my first taste-test I was worried that 6 turns of pepper was too much. I shouldn’t have worried; the finished product has just the right amount of spice and even the little people in my house with less-refined palates enjoy it.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I still have lots of strawberries to can so check back soon; I’m thinking a Strawbeena is in order.


Filed under canning, food

May Can Jam ~ Pickled Asparagus

I have to admit that until now I’ve never actually eaten a pickled asparagus spear.  I love pickled cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.  Pickled onions are yummy and “dilly” beans are delicious.   Up ’til now, the occasion has just not presented itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus.  I was sure that I would love pickled asparagus.  I have looked at expensive little jars of pickled asparagus, but couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 for one little jar.  So, when the Can Jam ingredients were announced, I knew what I was going to do.  

I googled recipes; bought tall, 12 oz. jelly jars; picked up five pounds of asparagus from Olds’ Farm at the Farmers’ Market and created this: 

Tarragon Pickled Asparagus 

(Makes 7 – 12 oz. jelly jars.)

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

  • Start with about 100 spears of asparagus trimmed to fit into tall jelly jars.  (I started with five pounds, but I only used the top four inches or so of each spear for my pickling and had enough spears left over to serve with dinner the next day.)


For the Brine: 

  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 3 cups water

To each jar add: 


Seasonings to be added to each jar.

  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1 allspice
  • 30-40 brown mustard seeds
  • 3″ sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 wild leek trimmed to fit

I did not blanch my asparagus first.  I found recipes that called for it and recipes that didn’t.  I contemplated it, but decided that asparagus turns brown enough when you cook it so it doesn’t need  a minute of cooking in addition to the ten minutes in the boiling water bath.  The only benefit I can see to blanching is that the spears are more pliable so that you could fit more spears into a jar. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Place canning jars into canning pot, fill with water and set on stove to brings to a boil. 
  2. If you haven’t already, wash asparagus and trim to fit the height of your jars.  If you use the tougher bottom ends of the asparagus, you may need to peel them but the tender top bits shouldn’t need to be peeled.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan.  When the water bath comes to a boil, bring the brine to a boil.
  4. Remove jars from canner one at a time and start packing:
  5. Add peppercorns, allspice and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.  Fill the jar about halfway with spears (tips up), tuck a sprig of tarragon into the jar and finish packing.  Once the jar seems full, shove the leek between the spears bulb-end up.  This will help keep the spears from moving around.

    Asparagus ready to be brined.

    Jar packed and ready to be filled with brine.

  6. In the picture above you will notice some asparagus “bottoms” visible.  Some of my spears were long enough to use both the bottom and the top of the spear so I peeled the bottoms of the longer spears and added them to the jars.  Once the jar is full ladle hot brine into the jar leaving head space and seal the jar.
  7. Work quickly to pack the rest of your jars; by the time I finished packing the seventh jar, my first jars were already browning.  Once the jars are full, return them to the boiling water bath and process for ten minutes. 
  8. Pull the beautiful jars out and wait for that rewarding, “Pop!”
Finished Jars of Pickled Asparagus.

Pickled Asparagus Spears


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May Can Jam Preview

Spring has finally sprung!  Ok, so it’s less than forty degrees, the forecast for today was snow and we’re under a frost advisory.  But, the spring produce doesn’t seem to care.  Wild leeks and morels have been showing their faces for a while now and even strawberries have appeared recently although they were helped along by a greenhouse.  

Despite the miserable weather, the Sara Hardy outdoor farmers’ market opened for the season today.  My honey purveyor was there along with numerous farmers selling plant starts and potted plants, syrup, greens, baggies of morels, cheese rhubarb and the veggie I’ve been waiting for . . . Asparagus! 

I’ve been hoping the Can Jam Challenge would feature asparagus ever since I signed up for it.  I saw some lovely pickled asparagus spears at Oryana for a ridiculous price last winter and decided that I should try pickling my own.  Now, Sarah at Toronto Tasting Notes has come through for me!  Actually, she was kind enough to give me a choice: asparagus or rhubarb.  Both are delicious, and fortunately making their appearances now. 

I might still venture a rhubarb attempt, but look what I brought home today:

All cleaned up and no place to go.

Asparagus spears prepped for their big day.

Joanne Olds was shivering in the rain at the outdoor farmer’ market.  So, even though I was headed to the indoor market I bought my asparagus from her instead of her son, Josh.  I bought five pounds.  The photo shows the spears cleaned and trimmed.  You’ll have to check back in a couple of weeks to see what becomes of them.


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Lavender’s Blue . . . (April Can Jam)

When the Can Jam ingredient was unveiled here I was both excited (because I have lots of herbs growing) and anxious (because I had no idea what to do with all those herbs). 

Food for Thought, a local company specializing in organic and local foods sells a variety of jams infused with herbs or blended with wines.  I’m a huge fan of the strawberry basil.  However, I don’t have any basil growing and I finished off all the unsweetened frozen strawberries in the freezer.   I do have lots of lavender so I decided to attempt a version of blueberry lavender jam.  I was out of blueberries so I had to buy local organic berries from Oryana, but I still managed to make a local jam.

I searched the Internet and found various recipes for blueberry lavender jams, but none were exactly what I wanted.  Most required pectin.  Some called for grape or apple juice concentrate.  I opted to make a long-cook, pectin free blueberry jam and add lavender.

First, get a tea infuser and fill it with freshly-picked lavender.

Tea infuser filled with lavender

Convenient measuring cup

Screw the cap on the infuser and dangle it in the sauce pan.

ready to steep in blueberries

The tea infuser makes a lovely "sachet".

Add the berries.

3 1/2ish cups blueberries

Add the sugar.

Lots of sugar

3 1/2 cups of sugar

Add two tablespoons of lemon juice and simmer until bubbly.

Let the lavender steep in the jam for about two hours.

Bring the jam back to a boil.  Check frequently to see if the jellying point has been met.  Once the jam has set, ladle into hot jars and process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

5 8 oz. jars

Look! I got more than three jars!!!

I haven’t done a side by side comparison with Food For Thought’s jam, but it sure was tasty on a slice of sourdough from Bay Bread!

Blueberry lavender jam on toast.



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April Can Jam

‘Round here, spring takes a long time to arrive.  You can coax some things out of the ground if you have cold frames or hoop-houses or if you’re really lucky, a green house but the average frost-free date for our growing region is still far, far away.  So while I start seedlings indoors under lights and dream of the day I can set them into the garden, not much is really growing.  Even the perennial fruits and vegetables need more time before I can sample them.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to visit Food in Jars this morning and discover that next month’s Can Jam ingredient will be . . . (Insert drumroll here.)  Herbs!  Even I have those!! 

All winter I dig thyme out from under the snow and this year I managed to keep a rosemary alive in the porch so that I could prune sprigs from it when I needed them.  In addition to those I have other herbs returning from the dead after a long winter sleep.  I ran around with the camera to see what was awake. I found my chives:


The chives will revive quickly, but maybe they should have been canned with the alliums?

Some lavender:


I have lots of lavender and some ideas . . .

A couple spindly sage plants:


I've actually raked around the sage already, but it looks too sad to can right now.



I have so much oregano that I pull it out by the roots and compost it, so this might be a wise choice.

Winter savory:

Winter Savory

I don't even use this much in my cooking, so I can't imagine I'll can it, but ya never know.


Potted tarragon

Tarragon is my least favorite herb (Well, except for cilantro, but that is a story for another day.) but Mr. Hippie loves it on potatoes.

Lots of thyme:





I'm not sure what on earth I would do with canned catmint. Bait cats?

And of course, the rosemary:

Potted rosemary

This is the longest I've managed to keep a rosemary alive! They always seem to die off on me right before spring.

I have some lemon balm and mint too, but they were too small and hard to find to photograph.   Everything is small now, but there are several weeks before the posts need to be up so I am hopeful that there will be plenty of herbs to choose from.


Filed under canning, gardening

Can Jam Challenge Round Three ~ Jerked Onion

Onions.  Often overlooked but an important component of many recipes, there are so many possibilities with the onion.  Because there are so many possibilities with onions, I didn’t know where to start.  I found all kinds of pickled onion recipes, but they were all pretty straight-forward.  You know, onions, vinegar, salt.  The usual pickle ingredients.  If I had little boiler onions, I might have tried a simple recipe.  But I had these: 

Bag of onions

Yellow onions from the market.

I’ve had them in storage since the start of the winter, but they’re local so I was excited to can them.  I couldn’t just straight-up vinegar these onions though so I decided to adjust the seasonings in a basic canned onion recipe and came up with this: 

Jerked Pickled Onions 

3 cups local onions from the Farmers’ Market, cut. (I quartered mine, but Julienned would be nice.)
One giant clove or several small cloves of garlic from Providence Farms, sliced.
1/4 c. salt
12 allspice berries
15 peppercorns
2 dried chilis from last year’s summer market
2 knobs of ginger
6 sprigs of thyme
2 c. distilled white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. molasses 

  1. Sprinkle the onions with salt.  Let them rest while you prepare the brine.
  2. Add spices, sugar and vinegar (but not molasses) to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

    Mis en place.

    Sugar and spice and everything nice.

  3. Boil the mixture for ten minutes.
  4. Stir a teaspoon of molasses into the boiling brine.
  5. Shake the salt off the onions, but don’t rinse them.
  6. Pack onions into hot jars.
  7. Fill jars with brine leaving head space.
  8. I added the spices to the jars because I like the way they look and because I’m hoping the flavors will intensify as they age but you could strain them out or boil them in a cheesecloth.
  9. Process in a boiling-water bath for five minutes.
  10. Pickled jerk onions

    Jerked Pickled Onions

I made this batch mild because I want to make sure they’re edible before I tweak the recipe.  For a hotter, more authentic Jamaican Jerk flavor, I would use scotch bonnet or habañero peppers.  

Oh, and Lelo, I’m finally ready for those labels ‘cuz these onions are worthy.


Previous Can Jam Entries:

January: Citrus (Blood Orange Marmalade)      February: Pickled Carrot Spears


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Have I mentioned I Love Random??

I’ve never considered myself particularly lucky.  Until now. 

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know that I’ve been participating in some challenges over the past few months.  I started with the Dark Days Challenge.  After that I started the Can Jam Challenge.  Most recently, I participated in the 28 Days Challenge.  There weren’t prizes for the Dark Days Challenge or the Can Jam Challenge other than the satisfaction of knowing I was doing the right thing for myself and for my family.  Plus getting some delicious food stocked in my pantry through my canning efforts.

However, Tigress did have a “raffle” of sorts.  It was technically a giveaway but it works the same way a raffle would.  Post a comment in the comments area and if the random number generator selects your comment number, you win.  Well, I was the lucky winner of these beautiful labels (which I still haven’t claimed yet because I am at a loss for a name for my carrots).  I promise, I will claim the labels soon and put them on my jars so that you can all see them.

The 28 Days Challenge was different.  It did have winners.  By posting your before and after pictures and explaining what you did to transform your space you could win many different valuable prizes.  I did not win one of the prizes. 😦  Have you seen the competition???  There were some pretty amazing transformations. 

So, what’s with the lucky feeling?  The Organizing Junkie offered some consolation prizes.  Completely random.  And, I won!  I’m the lucky winner of a $30 prize package from Organize It Mom.  Oh yeah, and I have a wonderful clean room that my kids will go play in and a space to work.  I can’t complain about that.


Filed under contest, Dark Days

Can Jam March: Alliums

If you’re not up on your Latin, this month’s theme is onions.  And garlic.  And various other onion-related plants.  

Bag of onions

Yellow onions from the market.

Alliums are great additions to many canning recipes, so this month has almost unending possibilities.  I’d love to pickle some baby onions like the tiny pickled onions traditionally served with raclette cheese, but onions haven’t sprouted yet ‘cuz of the two feet of snow blanketing the yard.  I even went to the Mercato to see if any of the farmers at the market had any new baby onions.  No such luck.   So, local baby onions are probably out of the question but I do have this three-pound bag of local onions that I got last fall from the Farmers’ Market, so at least I can finally can a local goodie.

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