Posts Tagged ‘canning’

{Giveaway} Are You Ready for Summer Canning?

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

We take a brief intermission from our FRESHFARM Markets Week to share the news of National Can-It-Forward Day, sponsored by Ball. Today, experts from Ball are sharing canning tips on live WebTV and on Twitter (search: #canitforward). While I’ve averaged just one or two batches of preserves each of the past couple summers, I can assure you that the preparation really is the hardest part. If you’re new to canning, Ball offers a Canning Discovery Kit with the items and instructions you need to safely preserve at home. Once you have your equipment (large pot, sterilized jars and lids, and a jar lifter), find the freshest local produce you can and set aside a block of time — you do need to attend to the jam while it cooks, and will want to avoid distractions while processing the jars.

jars ready for canning

And yes, it is possible to can with kids. You’ll want to keep them away from boiling pots and hot jars, of course, but little helpers are perfect for the preparation phase — rinsing, de-stemming, pitting, etc. I’ve even employed a child-safe-knife-wielding toddler to dice tomatoes for our tomato jam. (Since they’re going into the jam, preciseness of the cut doesn’t matter.) And kids love to see their hard-earned produce (in the case of picking it ourselves, or even better, home grown) turned into something that they can enjoy later in the year.

micro-batch plum vanilla jam

If you don’t have time to pick your own produce, farmers markets of course are the perfect place to source produce at peak flavor — and many farmers will gladly offer a discounted price for a flat of “seconds,” the slightly blemished fruit that is perfect for jam and preserves.

GIVEAWAY: Ball has generously offered a case of jars to one lucky reader. Just comment below with something you have canned (links to posts welcome!), or the first thing you’d like to, and be sure to include a valid email in the comment form (no need to put it in the comment itself). Comments will be open until 11:59pm Eastern on Friday, July 20. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Additional canning resources:

Disclosure: I received a Canning Discovery Kit from Ball for review purposes, and Ball is providing the giveaway prize to a reader. No other compensation was received and all opinions, as always, are my own. Please always follow safety instructions and professional recipes when canning.

{Preserving Summer} Bourbon Peach Jam

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I mentioned we recently went peach picking at Hollin Farms in Fauquier County, Virginia. Unfortunately my preserving aspirations exceeded my hands-free time during the week (one so quickly forgets how time-consuming infants can be) so sadly we lost a few to spoilage before I got a chance to put up a batch of jam. (We did enjoy quite a few out of hand … and in smoothies … and in a pie, as well. Nothing sweetens the end of summer like fresh-picked peaches!)

The husband is a bourbon drinker, so I’d been searching peach and bourbon pairings when I came across this jam. I adapted the recipe to follow the ratios specified by Pomona Universal Pectin — if you’ve never used Pomona before, it allows you to use less sugar than regular pectin.  I didn’t weigh the peaches, but this used about 24 or so of my smaller- sized peaches.  I’d picked mostly white peaches (White Lady), but thankfully the boy had picked a few of the scarlet-tinged Red Haven orange variety — which has this brilliant reddish-orange hue beneath the skin. Aren’t they lovely?

Aside from waiting for the canning water to boil (tip: start it before you start cooking the jam), peeling peaches is probably the most time-consuming part of this process. Blanching the peaches may seem like extra work, but trust me, it does save time — and avoids wasting any of that precious peach flesh that you might lose peeling with a paring knife.

How to Peel Peaches:

Bring a pot of water — deep enough to submerge a peach — to boil. Drop peaches in and boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath, then set on your work surface. Peels will slip right off.

Recipe: Bourbon Peach Jam
adapted from Beantown Baker


1 box Pomona Universal Pectin (follow package instructions for exact amounts of calcium water and pectin)
8 cups mashed peaches
4 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split in half)
1/4 cup bourbon

Instructions: (Before you begin, make sure all equipment is clean and ready. Sterilize jars in boiling water or the dishwasher — here are prep instructions from the National Center for Home Preservation.) Prepare calcium water according to pectin package instructions. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure into a large, non-reactive stock pot, and stir in lemon juice, vanilla paste (or bean) and calcium water. In a large bowl, combine sugar and pectin.

Bring peach mixture to a boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, not leaning too closely over the pot as the fumes will be quite potent as the alcohol cooks off. (Remove vanilla bean, if using.)

Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel and screw on the lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set jars on a dry kitchen towel to cool. You should hear the soft “pop” sound as the lids seal — check to make sure the inner lid is depressed, indicating it’s properly sealed. Store jam in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. (This made nine half-pints and one full pint.)

Have you joined the Canvolution? What are you preserving for winter?
canning+across+america+logo This was a grown-up-only endeavor — my just-about-4-year-old lacks the attention span for such a time-consuming project — but if you’re looking to include your children in canning, read this article first.

Preserving Summer: Plum Honey Vanilla Jam

Friday, September 12th, 2008

After conquering my fear of canning, the next item on my kitchen project list was making jam. I had recently stumbled across this lovely Green Gage Plum & Vanilla Jam recipe at Chez Pim which sounded simple enough. I had some green Shiro plums and Italian prune plums to work with. I really wanted to use honey, but I’ve read that you can only substitute honey for half of the sugar in a recipe, and didn’t want to stray too far from the original recipe since this was my first jam-making experience. I also had fewer plums than originally purchased, thanks to a toddler who was downing up to 6 a day…

So, my recipe quantities were: 1 lb plums, scant 1 c sugar, 1 T lemon juice, 1 T honey, 1 vanilla bean. I followed the original instructions and got a nice, thick jam, but I wasn’t sure what to do about the peels. I suspect that Pim’s green gage plum skins were thinner and perhaps dissolved? The prune plum skins had not, and were tough when I tried one. I strained the cooked jam then to remove the peels, which thinned my jam a bit so I was pleased to see when I opened a jar that it was a nice, jelly-like consistency. It is quite tasty, sweet and the vanilla adds such a lovely fragrance.

Now, Pim’s recipe is for a small batch to begin with, so guess what happens when you halve that? A meager two mini jam pots…

It probably wasn’t worth processing them since one went straight into the fridge to be eaten soon, but oh well. It was part of the learning experience. I will definitely keep practicing – and reading up on jam techniques over the winter. In the meantime, head over to Lelo in Nopo and check out the yummy jams she’s been making!

Oh, and the little bit left over? Excellent topping for peach ice cream!

Preserving Summer: Crushed Tomatoes

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

I remember my mom canning when I was young, mostly applesauce and jams. It was an all-day production, at least with the applesauce, and something I never really thought to do myself. But as we’ve been savoring our local summer produce and starting to think about the long winter days just around the corner, it seemed a shame not to try and preserve at least a few jars of tomato sauce. Plus, everyone else was doing it. Our CSA farm offered up a half bushel of canning tomatoes (seconds), but it was just before the boy’s birthday party weekend and that was the last thing I had time for. When the following week’s email extended the offer for one more week, it seemed like fate. I emailed my reservation and began scouring the web for canning instructions.

Friday at lunch, I stopped by the McLean Market and then headed out to Potomac Vegetable Farms’ Vienna farmstand. The farm is located Just down the road from Tysons Corner, where the McMansions are rapidly encroaching on every available spot of green around the farm. Last year, we got a few peaches in our share from the neighboring orchard – but it has since been replaced by a new development. The farm is actually divided by the development, so our farmers have to drive their trucks through their backyards to go back and forth between the crops.

Back at home, I decided to keep things simple. I followed the crushed tomatoes recipe here, omitting the salt and adding the lemon juice per USDA recommendations, to protect against botulism. I wound up staying up late Friday night working on this as tropical storm Hanna (coincidentally the name of my tomato farmer!) was heading our way and I was afraid of losing power with pots full of sauce on the stove. Of course, the power never went out. But, while this was simpler than I had imagined, it was also time-intensive and definitely safer done after the toddler’s bedtime.

The steps are fairly straight-forward:

  • wash, peel, core and quarter tomatoes (to peel, blanch in boiling water than ice bath to cool)
  • bring tomatoes to boil in large pot, stirring and crushing, boil for 5 minutes
  • boil jars to sterilize
  • add 1 T lemon juice to each pint jar (2 T for quart jars)
  • fill jars leaving 1/2 inch headroom
  • top with lids and process in boiling water for 35 minutes (45 minutes for quart jars)

In the end, my 20+ pounds of tomatoes produced 8 pints jarred sauce and two more pints in the freezer, with a few pounds leftover that I made into a late summer harvest soup.

Short-Cut: If you don’t want to go through the canning process, you can freeze your cooked tomatoes in freezer bags or reusable containers. I read in several places that you still need to add lemon juice or vinegar, but if you boil your sauce before and after freezing, that should also kill pesky bacteria.

This was a fairly fool-proof recipe but I do recommend doing some reading about canning techniques before getting started. The USDA Home Canning guides are available here for further background.