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{wordless wednesday}

“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.” President Barack Obama


canning apples {4 recipes}

when a good friend of mine moved across the country, she gave me jars after jars.  i knew i wanted to use them for christmas gifts and when it came apple season, i pounced.  i headed to the farmer’s market one weekend and picked up 60 pounds of apples.  for $36.  seriously.  i didn’t realize how much i could do with 60 pounds of apples.  or how much work it would be.  luckily, the husband came home with one of these beauties.

click for source.

i HIGHLY recommend getting one of these if you are using a large quantity of apples.  it peels, cores, and slices all in one.  i am a believer.

i started with several stations.  and worked through the apples over several days.  i am officially finished.  yes.  that means, it is not yet halloween and my christmas list is almost done.  go ahead. get jealous. {i am anticipating a super busy post thanksgiving etsy shop hit, more on that later.  so i have motivation to get my personal holiday gifts finished now}

first up.  slow cooker vanilla rum apple butter.  oh the smells filling my kitchen when this was cooking.  best part of any slow cooker recipe, after the prep is done, so are you.  the slow cooker does all the work.

ingredients:
6 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
2 cups sweet apple cider
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup rum
2 teaspoons ground vanilla (or vanilla extract)

directions:
1- combine apples and apple cider. bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 30 minutes.
2- puree using an immersion blender, food mill, or food processor just until a uniform texture is achieved. do not liquefy. measure 12 cups of apple puree.
3- in a large slow cooker, combine apple puree and sugar. stir until sugar dissolves. prop lid open with using the handle of a wooden spoon and allow to reduce gently for about 8 hours.
4- stir in rum and ground vanilla and cook for 1 hour. finished apple butter will be thick and hold its shape on a spoon.
5- can (process for 10 minutes) or refrigerate for up to 1 month.

my first batch tasted so unique and, well, delicious that i made a couple more.

not so much for gifts, but more for us.  homemade applesauce.  is there anything better?  on the left {above} is the spiced applesauce and on the right, plain.

this recipe came from the ball recipe book.  it is my canning bible.

for the plain applesauce:

12 lbs apples, peeled, cored, quartered, treated to prevent browning and drained (about 36 medium)
water
3 cups granulated sugar, optional
4 Tbsp lemon juice
8 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

if you are making the spiced:

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1- PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2- COMBINE apples with just enough water to prevent sticking in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender (time will depend upon the variety of apple and their maturity). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
3- TRANSFER apples, working in batches, to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth.
4- RETURN apple purée to saucepan. Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice. {If making spiced, add spices now} Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filling jars.
5- LADLE hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
6- PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

 

next up, i made apple pie filling. again, using the ball complete book of canning.

12 cups sliced peeled cored apples, treated to prevent browning* and drained (about 12 medium)
Water
2-3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup ClearJel® (cooking starch used for preserving)
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2-1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1-1/4 cups cold water
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

directions:

1- PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2- BLANCH apple slices, working with 6 cups at a time, in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
3-  COMBINE sugar, ClearJel®, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large stainless steel saucepan. Stir in apple juice and cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, return to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Drain apple slices and immediately fold into hot mixture. Before processing, heat, stirring, until apples are heated through.
4- LADLE hot pie filling into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
5- PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

i love playing around with flavors, especially when canning.  with my last apples i wanted to make an apple jam.  but i wanted unique flavors, not your typical “apple preserves.”  i love lemon and honey.  i thought they would blend well with the apples. voila.  honey, lemon apple jam.

12 cups chopped apples
2 cups lemon juice
2 cups honey
3 cups sugar
2 envelopes of liquid pectin
zest of three lemons

directions:

1- combine the chopped apples and lemon juice in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (an enameled Dutch oven works well here) and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples have broken down. when you’ve got a nice, chunky applesauce, add the honey and sugar and stir to incorporate.

2- bring the fruit to a boil and cook for at least five minutes at a roll (watch out though, it will bubble and depending on the size of your pot, can get a little splashy). add pectin and boil for a few minutes more, to active the pectin. when it seems nice and jammy, turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest.

3- fill jars, wipe rims (this jam is sticky, so you may need to add a bit of white vinegar to your towel, to help ensure a clean rim), apply lids and screw on bands. process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.

 

i would LOVE to hear back from you guys if you make your own apple jars of goodness.


{wordless wednesday}


canning peppers, both jalapeno and banana.

my kitchen has been in full preserve mode this week.  taking the last bit of goodness our summer garden is producing and making sure it lasts.  we had our first watermelons this year and yesterday i took our best one and made more of my watermelon jam.  here is the recipe.  i made it exactly the same, only this time around i didn’t pulverize the watermelon until it was completely liquid.  instead i left some “pulp” to make it less jelly and more jam like.  i like a little chunk :)

our garden is crazy for peppers this year! tons of jalapenos and several pounds of banana peppers.  more than we could possibly eat fresh.

i love sweet pickled banana peppers, so this is what i did. i tripled this recipe.

1/2 lb banana pepper, seeded and sliced crossways into rings

for your pickling juice add:
2 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

directions:

  • sterilize 2- 1/2 pint jars.
  • bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to a rolling boil.
  • place peppers in the 1/2 pint jars.
  • pour on the hot pickling juice and bring liquid to within 1/2″ of the top.
  • be sure the edge of the jar has no juice on it.
  • place lids and screw on bands finger-tip tight.
  • place in canner/water bath and process for 10 mins.

in about two weeks, these beauties should be quite delicious.  i can’t wait.

we were also overflowing with jalapenos! i love spice, as does the husband.  i looked and looked for jalapeno recipes and they all added flavorings.  i wanted just simple jalapenos without the additional pickling spices.  i envision lots of chili meals and when i go to add a jalapeno, i want it to taste like a jalapeno.

measurements are for 1 pound of peppers and yield approximately 2 1/2 pints. i doubled this recipe.

1 pound of jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons pickling salt

directions:

  • pack clean, hot jars with peppers.
  • pour hot brine over top.
  • wipe rims, apply lids and bands.
  • process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. store in cool, dark place for up to a year.

please note, when cutting pepper such as these, always wear gloves.  this is something you will overlook only once.


summertime in a jar.

i mentioned earlier that this will forever be known as the summer of the watermelon.  i literally can eat an entire watermelon in a couple days.  oh, just a personal size watermelon, that isn’t so much. no, no my friends. a large, break my back, watermelon.  i just can’t get enough.a dear friend of mine moved to arizona and unloaded TONS of canning jars.  every time i walk out into the garage they are just looking at me.  just waiting for something yummy and sweet to go inside.  then inspiration struck.  watermelon jam.i have never tried it.  i have never even heard of it.  but after a quick google search i found that it most definitely could be done.  it just might be a little tricky.  the common problem, the jams were not setting.    in the canning world, this is no bueno. i nervously got started.

here is what you need:

8 cups pureed watermelon
3 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin

whisk together sugar and powdered pectin until they are fully integrated. combine watermelon puree, sugar/pectin and lemon juice in a large, non-reactive pot.

bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature of the jelly reaches 220 degrees. this can take a good bit of time.  because watermelon has such a high water content, you have to cook a lot of it down.  because of all the people struggling with the jam setting, i boiled the hell out of it for almost an hour. the i used a couple tricks to check to see if the jam would set.  my favorite set test is using the saucer test that i learned from the ball book for canning.  basically place a small plate in the freezer for a few minute, then spoon a small bit of the jam onto the super cold plate.  the jam should set pretty quickly.  if it doesn’t then keep boiling and try again a few minutes later.

remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. process in a boiling water canner for 10 – 20 minutes.

when time is up, remove from canner and let jars cool. when they’re cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. you can eat immediately or store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

this made 8 – 8oz. jars, 3 – 4oz. jars, and 1 random jar that i think is 14 ounces.

this may be the prettiest color jam i have ever made.  i can’t get enough of the vibrant pink color.

the husband is pushing for me to open up a canning etsy shop.  what do you think?  i think i would need lots of taste testers and apparently they are not hard to find :)


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