Tag Archives: home canning

When Life Gives You Cherries

Typically, when I acquire a massive hoard of food it’s intentional. I find myself lost in thought while wandering through sun-ripened fields, full of fresh produce just begging to be picked. This past Spring was very cold and very wet, so it pushed our growing season back just a bit. Fast forward to mid July when I had assumed there was still time for cherry picking. Wrong. I missed the deadline by a few days.

Last week while picking up a few needed items for my weekly meal planning sesh, I stumbled onto a sweet cherry sale, as in less than $2 a pound kinda sale. Naturally I went completely overboard and ended up saving more than I spent! Now faced with a fridge packed full of delicious, dark red cherries, I had the daunting task of preserving these tasty little gems so they could be enjoyed throughout the year.

My initial plan of attack was clear, some would be eaten fresh, some would be dehydrated, and quite a few bags were destined to end up in my deep-freeze. Then came the not so clear part, canning. I began skimming my preservation books to see what recipes would interest me and much to my surprise there were quite a few! Being a fan of all things dessert, these recipes made their way to the front of the line. First up: Danish cherry sauce. I found it to be a simple but satisfying topping for cheese cake, one that would not overshadow the dessert, but elevate it just a bit.

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Danish Cherry Sauce -yields 4 pints

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 cinnamon sticks, approximately 4″ each

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup water

3/4 cups corn syrup

7 1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries

Combine sugar, almond extract, cinnamon sticks, corn syrup, and water in a large stainless steel sauce pan. Over med-high heat bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a gentle boil, add cherries and stir until heated through. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Ladle hot cherries and syrup into clean, hot, pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

For a thicker sauce combine 1 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water in a small sauce pan, then add one pint of Danish cherry sauce. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. DO NOT add cornstarch before canning!

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Images and content copyright © 2016 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

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Strawberry Fields Part 1: Compote

Two weeks ago I ventured across the river to my friend’s farm.  There, I spent my Sunday morning alone in the quiet fields picking the essence of Summer: sun-ripened, perfectly sweetened strawberries.  Last Sunday I did the exact same thing.  In total my efforts yielded 50 quarts, which translated into hours and hours of washing, hulling, and preserving Summer’s most sought after fruit!

quart containers

In preparation for the harvest I was planning on bringing home, I started formulating my plan of action.  I had already decided that half of my fruitage would end up frozen to be enjoyed in the off-season, and there was definitely going to be a lot of shortcake baking taking place, which eliminated several more quarts.  Now, what to do with the rest?  After flipping through my collection of food preservation books, I finally narrowed it down to three mouth-watering recipes.  First up: strawberry orange compote.  Oh yes!

strawberry compote jar-spoonStrawberry Orange Compote – yields 8 half-pint jars

4 quarts of strawberries, hulled and quartered

grated zest and juice of one lemon

grated zest and juice of one orange

2 cups granulated sugar

In a large pot combine strawberries, sugar, orange and lemon juices and their zest; bring to a simmer over med-high heat, stirring often.  Lower the heat to a minimum and gently simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  You will end up with a slightly reduced, but still runny mixture.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace; remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes, adjust for elevation.

strawberries & sauce

So far my favorite way to enjoy this slightly sweetened sauce is drizzled over a bowl of creamy vanilla bean ice cream.  Absolute heaven if you ask me!

ice cream & sauce

I also canned a batch where I excluded the zest, therefore reducing the pectin content, which resulted in a slightly looser, but equally delicious sauce.

PDFBadge

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from Tart and Sweet – 101 canning and pickling recipes for the modern kitchen by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler.

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The Precursor Post

Last weekend I gave myself the daunting task of cleaning out the fridge.  As some of you probably know, this chore can get pretty hairy, literally!  Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I originally anticipated; turns out I only had one unidentifiable substance lurking in a container hidden in the depths of the fridge!

As I began drafting out that adventure it dawned on me that I had yet to share my tomatillo salsa post, which happens to be the star of my upcoming recipe!

Each year I try to select unique, unusual, or new-to-me vegetables to grow.  The tomatillo just happens to fit all three of these criteria.  Native to Mexico, this nightshade resembles a small, unripe tomato.  Enclosed in their paper-like husk, they develop into a green, yellow, red, or purple fruit.  It is recommended that you grow more than one, since single plants rarely set fruit due to their high rate of self-incompatibility.  I planted three and they ended up producing an obnoxious amount of fruit… all season long!  Note to self: plant only two this year!

Since I ended up with so many tomatillos, I needed to find different ways to preserve them.  One was to make tomatillo salsa!

Tomatillo Salsa

5 1/2 cups chopped, cored, husked tomatillos (Wash them well since underneath the husk lies a sticky film!)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped and seeded green chili peppers  (I used my Chinese 5 color peppers.  You can substitute a sweet pepper should you not want a hot salsa, you just can’t change the amount!)

1/2 cup white vinegar

4 Tbsp bottled lime juice

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

2 Tsp ground cumin

1/2 Tsp salt

1/2 Tsp pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large stainless-steel sauce pot and bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Wipe rims, adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Place jars into a boiling-water bath canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Process both pints and half-pints for 15 minutes.  After the recommended processing time, remove the canner lid, wait an additional 5 minutes.  Remove jars and allow to cool, undisturbed, on a wire rack for 12-24 hours.

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe courtesy of Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving

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The Numbers Are In

294.  That is my “unofficial” jar count for the 2011 growing season.  I say unofficial because sometimes I gift a jar (or two) before I remember to write down how much a recipe yielded; other times, I just forget all together.

This year’s number is slightly less than what I had anticipated, but then I remembered I did not put up beans (thank you cucumber beetles) or whole tomatoes (due to having quite a bit left over from 2010).  Had I not cooked-down most of my tomatoes into sauce, and had not fought the worst bug battle to date, I’m sure my jar count would have surpassed 2010’s unofficial count of 342!

Here is a glimpse into my just-off-the-kitchen, perfectly polished, meticulously arranged, and precisely labeled dry storage/canning pantry.  In my dream home it would be an entire room!!!

What you don’t see is my upstairs closet packed pull of the remaining jars!  I couldn’t get a decent picture, so just imagine 19 dozen more jars neatly packed into ball half boxes, all labeled and dated!  Yeah, you could say I’m a little neurotic.

And encase you were wondering what delectable goodies fill those jars in waiting, I’ve got the rundown of what went into last year’s canner.

SAUCES & CONDIMENTS: vanilla maple & plain applesauce, spicy & plain pasta sauce, ketchup, and bbq sauce.

SOUPS & STOCKS: tomato-garlic, 10 bean, split pea, vegetable stock

JAMS, JELLIES & MARMALADES: strawberry-rhubarb jam, clementine marmalade, grape jelly, quince jam, love apple jelly, tropical peach jam, tomato jam, malibu peach jam, corncob jelly, vanilla-pear jam, raspberry-apricot jam, raspberry jam, cherry-vanilla jam, yellow tomato jam, apricot jam, white grape peach tea jam, and strawberry-blueberry-rhubarb jam.

CHUTNEYS & FRUIT BUTTERS: vanilla bean peach butter, quince-apple chutney, peach-apple butter, rhubarb chutney, and spring conserves.

PICKLED: chard stems, radishes, and dilly scapes.

SALSAS & TOMATOES: tomato salsa, peach salsa, summer salsa, stewed tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, and tomatillo salsa.

FRUITS & VEGETABLES: carrots, roasted eggplant (it’s almost pickled), beets, and peaches.

Yep, I think that covers just about everything!  I may revisit this post (at another time) to link the recipes.

After skimming over all of those tasty titles, you may have noticed that a large number of them have yet to make it onto the blog.  Lets just say I’ve got plenty of future posts at the ready!  Who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally catch up… but I wouldn’t bet the farm! 😛

Images and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.

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Peach Salsa

With my ever-growing collection of food preservation books, I have a slew of new-to-me recipes at the ready!  Pages upon pages of tasty goodness just begging to be put into jars and savored at season’s end.  Peach salsa was a first for me this year and I can’t understand why it took me so long to make this sweet and spicy salsa!

Peach Salsafrom Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving

1/2 cup white vinegar

6 cups chopped pitted peeled peaches

1-1/4 cups chopped red onion

4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used my Chinese 5 Color peppers)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I used a Purple Beauty pepper)

1/2 cup loosely packed, finely chopped cilantro

2 tbsp liquid honey

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar and peaches; add onion, peppers, cilantro, honey, garlic, cumin, and cayenne.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and place two-piece lids on jars, adjusting ’til fingertip-tight.

Submerge pint jars in a boiling-water bath and process for 15 minutesRemove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.  Allow jars to cool on a wire rack or kitchen towel, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours so seals can properly set.

Recipe yields 6 pints.

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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.

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Pickled Green Tomatoes

Last Friday it was forecasted that we were to receive our first hard frost of the season. With the exception of my cool weather crops (like peas, bok choy, beets, radishes, all my brassicas and mesclun who love the cold) most of my plants can’t take frost or a severe dip in temperature. In a panicked state I hurried about my garden picking green tomatoes like a squirrel collecting nuts. I ended up with well over 25 lbs of unripe tomatoes. Turns out we did not get an actual killing frost until this morning, but it was a necessary harvest that was going to take place eventually.

I really love fried green tomatoes, however, I don’t see myself perpetually consuming them over the next two weeks. So my preservation quest began. I found quite a few recipes that peaked my interest, one of which was to pickle them, which I did.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

4 c water
4 cups white vinegar
4 Tbsp Pickling Salt
4 pounds green tomatoes, sliced into wedges
dill seed
garlic
peppercorn
bay leaves

Combine vinegar, salt and water to make a brine and bring it to a boil. In each hot jar add 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp dill seed, 1/2 tsp peppercorns and a clove of garlic, sliced. Add tomatoes and fill jar with hot brine. I did both pints and quarts. For the quart I upped the spice measurements a bit. Process in a BWB for 10 minutes.

As with anything pickled the longer the brine has to develop the stronger and better the flavor becomes. I’ll be sure to crack one of these open in a few weeks and let you know how they turned out!

**UPDATE** Mid January I cracked open a jar of this lovely green beauties, needless to say I ate almost the entire jar standing in the kitchen! They are awesome and I can’t wait to make more later this year!!

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Blueberry Butter

This year I decided to try my hand at making and canning fruit butter.  I really really love apple butter, so I assume my taste buds would have the same affection no matter what the fruit.  I found a recipe at pickyourown.org, a long time, go-to source of mine.  It allowed for several variations in the amount of sugar, which to me is important.  The main draw back, however, is that the recipe called for cloves.  I am not a fan of cloves, but I am keeping an open mind.

Low Sugar Blueberry Butter from Pick Your Own .org
10 cups of pureed blueberries
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Feeling the need to have a back up spice plan I continued searching and stumbled on this recipe found at Food in Jars, which had even less sugar than the aforementioned.  Score!

Even Lower Sugar Blueberry Butter from Food In Jars
8 cups of pureed blueberries
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, I subbed 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

For both recipes I pureed my berries in the food processor and then placed them into my slow cooker on high.  I added the sugar and lemon juice and turned the heat to low once the mix was hot.  I allowed my butter to cook overnight, approximately 8 hours.  It is important to keep the lid propped open to allow the steam to escape.  A wooden spoon works great!  The next morning I added my spices and continued cooking for an additional hour or so.  Once I had my desired thickness I turned the slow cooker off and allowed it to cool a bit.  I then used my immersion blender to bring the butter to a smooth consistency, ladled it into hot sterilized jars. and processed in a BWB for 5 minutes.

After tasting both recipes I’ve come to the conclusion that the cloves are not as distinct as I initially thought they would be.  I’m super happy with both flavors but next time I may marry all three spices together and keep to the 2 cup sugar recipe!

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Just Dandy

I’ve been on a *make jam & jelly out of everything* kick as of late, and my most recent adventure, Dandelion Jelly.  To be honest, the jury is still out on this one.  Maybe it’s because I don’t feel well and things taste different when you’re sick, or maybe it’s because the flavor, to me, is reminiscent of something else.  I don’t want to plant any seeds of flavor-doubt in your head, so you can come to your own conclusion on this one.  Regardless, here is the recipe and if anyone is willing to make a batch; I’d LOVE to know your thoughts!!

Dandelion Jelly

2 C fresh dandelion petals.  The best way to achieve this is by holding the flower by the head and cutting with sharp kitchen sheers.  Try to avoid cutting the sepals while collecting your petals, you want as little green as possible.  Obviously, DO NOT use flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides.

2 cups boiling-water

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

4 cups sugar

1 box of pectin

20-25 drops yellow food coloring  This is optional and I chose to not add it to my jam.

Since I washed the flower heads, it made measuring the petals a bit more difficult, as they wanted to clump together.  My solution: place a single-layer of flowers on 2 large wooden cutting boards, and set them outside to dry for a bit.  I then cut the petals and once again, spread them out on a cutting board, this time drying them inside.  (It was a bit windy and I did not want the loose petals blowing away!)

After the petals were almost dry, I was able to fluff them up and measure out my 2 cups.  Next, you want to place them into a non reactive bowl, and pour 2 cups of boiling-water over them, allowing to steep for 2 hours.

After steeping, strain the petals through cheese cloth; the infusion was muddy brown in color.
Add the lemon juice and food coloring, if desired.

Place the liquid on the stove, add sugar and bring to a boil.  Stir in pectin and bring back to a hard boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and ladle into sterile jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace; process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.  Remove jars from canner and allow to cool, undisturbed for 12-24 hours.  Voila, dandelion jelly!

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Violet Jelly

You heard me right and no I’m not off my rocker!  I actually made jelly from violets; you know, those little purple flowers, and it’s damn good too!  It’s sweet with a slight tartness.  Turns out you can make jelly from all sorts of things, even dandelions and roses!  My sister-in-law has had rose jelly and she said it’s amazing.  Naturally, I can’t wait to make it!

Right now violets are blooming like crazy.  My property is covered with them!  Originally, I had plans to make this last year, but by the time I remembered it was too late and all the blooms were gone!  This year I was on-the-ball and ended up canning two batches!  Let me tell you how good it felt to be canning again!  Jaime, from Our Little Homestead, is an avid canner as well.  Once she found out I was canning this early in the season boy was she jealous!  I told her I was up to something super secret and she would have to wait to find out.  I’m sure the anticipation is making her nuts, I know it would if it were me!

So without further adieu, I bring to you…

Violet Jelly

2 overflowing cups of fresh violet flowers.  Pick fully open buds for the best flavor and color.

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

4 cups sugar

1 box pectin

2 cups boiling-water
 

Wash the violets (you do not need to dry them) and place into a non-reactive bowl.  Pour 2 cups boiling-water over the flower petals, cover, and allow to steep up to 24 hours, I left mine in the fridge overnight.  Strain liquid through a cheese cloth, it should be a lovely shade of dark blue.

Next, add lemon juice and watch the infusion morph into a stunning shade of purple. It’s like magic, I tell ya!
Combine sugar with liquid and bring to a boil.  Add pectin and return to a hard boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and ladle into hot, sterile jars, wipe rims and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars and allow to cool, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours.

Seriously, have you ever seen a more beautifully jelly?  It didn’t set as thick as most other jams and jellies I’ve made; it has a consistency similar to honey, but then again, so did my grape jelly, which developed a harder set over time.

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