Tag Archives: canning

Hi Ho Cherry-O

With the end of one beloved red fruit begins the start of another!  As if the picture isn’t a dead giveaway, I’m talking about cherries!  The first to ripen are sweet cherries.  Sour cherries (my favorite) shortly follow.  Then just as quickly as they come they go!  Last week, I made two trips to Cherry Hill Orchards and managed to pick 23 pounds of sour cherries and fall out of a tree… technically I was knocked out of it by a New Yorker in his land-yacht of an SUV!  But fall from the tree I did!

You can see from the picture above that cars actually drive through the orchard; I’m guessing that must be where overflow parking is.  So I’m on one of the tall ladders all up in the tree and this guy comes barreling down the path.  I’m guessing his side view or tire caught the edge of my ladder because down I went!  Thankfully my cat-like reflexes kicked in and I landed on my feet.  Dude never stopped or slowed down…I’m guessing he had no idea what happened.  Seriously, YOU’RE IN AN ORCHARD, slow down!

Now, I’m sure you may (or may not) be asking yourself what ever does one do with 23 pounds of sour cherries?  Why one makes cherry pie filling, jams, ice cream, pie, turnovers, scones, salad dressing, and dehydrates them of course!   You can see I’ve been a very busy little bee!

Cherry Pie, the Fillingadapted from USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving

I tripled the quart instructions (which is allowed) and omitted the cinnamon and red food dye to make 6 pints.  In actuality, it ended up being more like 9 pints so I canned 6, froze 2, and baked turnovers and a pie, since I only had 6 sterilized jars at the ready!

10 cups sour cherries, pits and stems removed

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp clear jell (use the cook type, not the instant)

4 cups cold water

4 tbsp bottled lemon juice

3/4 tsp almond extract

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water.  I pinched mine the night before so I didn’t put them in water.  If you want to prevent them from browning where the stem was removed (I never do), you can treat them with some absorbic acid or Fruit Fresh.  Place the cherries in a gallon of boiling water 6 cups at a time and boil for one minute once water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep them heated in a covered bowl or dish.  For this step, I heated my enamel-covered cast iron dutch oven at 200° F for about 15 minutes, worked great!  Combine the sugar and clear jell with water in a large pot and add water and almond extract.  Stir the mixture and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill hot jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1″ headspace.  Adjust 2 piece lids to fingertip-tight and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes or your recommended altitude processing time.

Cherry Pie, the Crust adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1943 edition

1-3/4 C pastry flour

1 C spelt flour

1/2 C whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp spectrum shortening

2 tbsp butter

1/4 C ice water

In a large bowl, sift flours, salt, and baking powder; cut in butter and shortening with a pastry knife (or two forks) stopping when mixture resembles a course mix about the size of a pea.  Sprinkle 3 tbsp of ice water over the dough and blend it lightly.  If the dough can be gathered into a ball, don’t add any more water.  If not, continue sprinkling ice water one tablespoon at a time.  Try to not overwork your dough as this brings out the gluten and makes your pie crust tough.  Divide the dough into two balls, one being about 2/3 of the dough; this will be the bottom crust, the smaller one will be the top crust.  Place each ball of dough between two layers of wax paper and roll out into a disk.  Place the disks in the fridge for an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll them out and place the large one into your pie plate, add pie filling, then add the top crust.  Pinch your edges together and cut several slits or X’s into the top to vent the steam.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 30 minutes.

I actually didn’t make my pie this way.  Instead, I made turnovers.  After about 8 turnovers, I got tired of messing with the dough so I used the rest to bake up a small pie.  Since my pie was so small, I only baked it for 15 minutes, like I did with the turnovers.

As you can tell by the picture, the pie was good.  Like, really, really good.  So good that I ate the entire pie without taking a picture.  In my gluttonous defense, this particular piece of pottery is rather small and quite shallow, it held about a jelly jars worth of filling… and I ate said pie in 2 days, not one.



Filed under Baking, Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Vegetarian

Pickled Garlic Scapes

In case you haven’t noticed I’ve been on a garlic scape binge for the past week or so.  I’ve been searching the interwebs high and low, hunting and gathering all recipes featuring their use.  In addition to adding scapes to sautéed veggie medleys I’ve made bean dip, salted herbs, pesto, and now I’ve pickled them!

Dilly Scapesadapted from Ball’s Blue Book of Canning Dilly Bean recipe

6-7 bunches of garlic scapes cut into 4 1/2″ segments (the flower pods and curly sections were reserved for freezing and sauteing)

1/4 cup pickling salt

2-1/2 cups white vinegar

2-1/2 cups water

1 tsp cayenne pepper, divided

6 cloves of garlic, sliced in half and divided (obviously not necessary since scapes are garlic, but I like to snack on pickled garlic too!)

4 tsp dill seed, divided

2 tsp whole peppercorns, divided

Combine salt, vinegar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  In hot sterilized pint jars add 3 slices of garlic, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, 1 tsp dill seed and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to each jar; pack garlic scapes into jars lengthwise.  Ladle hot liquid over scapes, leaving 1/4” headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust two-piece caps to finger-tip tight.  Process pints 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.  Yields 4 pints.

The brine will take several weeks to develop so I won’t open a jar till mid July, which at that time my beans should be about ready.  If I like the recipe I will use it for dilly beans as well!


Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Pickling, Vegetarian

Apple Rhubarb Chutney

I’ve been exploiting rhubarb every which way from Sunday!  After making three different batches of jam, I thought I’d move onto chutney!

Apple Rhubarb Chutney  from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving

4 C diced pealed cored apples, treated to prevent browning (I used a mix of Ambrosia and Braeburn)

4 C sugar

2 C rhubarb

1/2 C water

grated zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 C dried cranberries

1 Tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg

In a large stainless steel sauce pan, combine apples, sugar, rhubarb, water and lemon zest and juice.  Bring to a hard boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.  Add cranberries, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on a spoon.

Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles; wipe rim, center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tip tight.

Submerge in a BWB canner and process for 10  minutes (or your recommended altitude time).  Remove from canner, place on a wire rack, and allow seals to set and to cool for 12-24 hours.

I ended up grilling a piece of chicken (yes, you read that right: chicken) for dinner last night and slathered some on top.  It was awesome!!


Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Chutney, Vegan, Vegetarian

Changing things because I can!

Did you know that June 9th is National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day?  I won’t lie, I’m very fond of pie, it ranks right up there with my love for cake.  The problem is if I bake a pie, I’m going to eat a pie.  The entire pie.  But (probably) not all in one sitting (hopefully)!

Since I’ve never been one to conform to the norm, I’m changing things around; from here on out, June 9th will now be known as Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Day!  So there you have it.  Happy Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Day everyone!!  (And if it just so happens that another day is already reserved for Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Day, than celebrate we shall, twice!)

Strawberry-rhubarb jam on fresh-baked strawberry bread!

Low Sugar Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam – a melding of Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving and Sure-Jell low sugar pectin jam recipes 

2 cups crushed hulled strawberries

2 cups chopped rhubarb

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 pkg Sure-Jell low sugar/no sugar pectin

4 cups sugar

In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan combine strawberries, rhubarb, and lemon juice.  In a small bowl combine pectin with 1/2 cup sugar, whisk into fruit mixture until dissolved.  Bring to a boil over hight heat, stirring frequently.  Add remaining sugar and bring back to a hard rolling boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles; wipe rim and center lid on jar.  Screw band on until fingertip-tight.  Submerge jars in canner (be sure the water level is covering the lids), cover and process in boiling water for 10 minutes (or your current altitude recommended time).  Remove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, undisturbed for 12-24 hours.  Remove bands and store.


Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Vegan, Vegetarian

My berry favorite time of the year!

Strawberry season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier!  I often entertain the idea of putting in a berry patch of my own, but I just can’t bring myself to part with the precious growing space for a 3 week harvest, especially since I can head to the farm and pick Josh’s.

Last year I decided to make all of my jams and jellies using low-sugar recipes; this year, after I talk to my local extension office of course, I want to make the switch from refined to raw sugar.  I assume the two are interchangeable, but I just want to hear it from an expert!  With the exception of my homemade jams and jellies, I rarely consume refined sugar.  Not only are refined products lacking in nutrition, but when you take into consideration that roughly 90% of sugar beets grown in the US are GMO sugar beets and of that 90%, over 54% are used in sugar production, we’ve got a serious double-whammy on our hands!  Sugar, like anything in moderation, is okay, but when taken to the level of consumption that we Americans do, it’s down right evil!  (I will now step down from my virtual soap-box.)

::UPDATE::  Turns out the two ARE NOT interchangeable!  Here is what the PennState extension office wrote when I asked about canning with raw sugar: The definition of raw sugar is the residue left after sugarcane has been processed to remove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals.  In this raw state, the sugar may contain contaminants such as molds and fibers.  In the United States, so-called raw sugar has been purified to remove dangerous contaminants.  There has not been USDA or Ball Company research using raw sugar in canning.  However, I can think of the following concerns for canning with raw sugar: If there are contaminants present in the raw sugar, it would increase the chance of spoilage of canned goods.  The flavor of raw sugar may mask the natural flavor of fruits being canned.  The color and impurities of the sugar may distort the color of the canned product.  I do not know of any research showing pH changes when canning with raw sugar—it is a possibility but I don’t know for sure.  The granular structure of raw sugar differs from regular granulated sugar; you might need more raw sugar to have the same degree of sweetness.  So there you have it folks, when in doubt ask!  I’ve found info online from “Betty Homemaker” and “Joe Schmo” about substituting raw sugar for white stating to up the amount of sugar by 20%; for baking, sure, go for it, when canning, hell no!!!  I’m following the advise of an expert!

Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam

1 box Sure-Jell Pectin for less or no sugar recipes
6 cups mashed strawberries
4 cups sugar
Mash strawberries and place in a large pot on the stove.  Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the pectin and add it to the strawberries.  Bring to a boil; add remaining sugar and return to a hard boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Wipe jar rims; add lids and rings.  Process in a boiling-water bath according to your current altitude, 10 minutes for me.  Remove from canner and place on wire rack to cool.  Allow seals to set, 12-24 hours.  Remove rings and store.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Vegan, Vegetarian

Tasty Purple Flowers

Did you know that those pretty little violets growing all over your yard are edible?  Well, if you didn’t before you do now!  Last Spring I made several batches of violet  jelly.  The flavor is tangy-sweet, similar to that of Sweet-Tarts candy.  It sets more like a honey than a fruit spread.  I thought about adding additional pectin; however, this being my first ever attempt at making a flower jelly, I didn’t want to mess with the recipe ’til I tasted it.  I thought it may firm up after sitting a few weeks like my grape jelly does.  This year, I have different plans for that pretty purple flower, if it ever stops raining long enough for me to pick them that is!


Filed under Micro-farming

Plum Crazy

Several weeks ago I ventured across the river to my cousin’s abode.  What were once thought to be flowering plum trees, turned out to be fruiting trees.  Score!  Fresh, sun-ripened, organic plums, ready for the pickin’.  Having never worked with plums I decided to explore my recipe possibilities.  I decided my kitchen adventure should be to make and can a spicy plum chutney, as well as plum conserves.  Both recipes came from Food.com, formerly Recipezaar.

Spicy Plum Chutney
makes approximately 6 half pints

4 quarts (about 6 cups) plums, pitted and chopped (I used my food processor)
3 cups brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup onion chopped
2 Tbsp mustard seed
2 Tsp dried ginger
1 Tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tsp salt
1 jalapeno, diced
3 cups vinegar (I used 1.5 apple cider and 1.5 white)

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thick, stirring constantly.  Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4″ head space and remove air bubbles; wipe rims and process in a BWB for 10 minutes.

Plum Conserves
makes approximately 6 half pints

5 cups plums, pitted and chopped (I used my food processor)
3 cups sugar
1 cup orange: peeled, seeded and chopped
1 cup raisins
orange rind from one orange, finely sliced
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot except for pecans.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Continue cooking until almost reaching gelling point, approximately 15 minutes at a rolling boil.  Add pecans and continue cooking, stirring 5 more minutes.  Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4″ head space and remove air bubbles; wipe rims and process for 15 minutes in a BWB.

Both recipes turned out deliciously awesome!


Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Chutney, Vegan, Vegetarian