Any canners out there with tips, ideas or recipes?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    So call me strange but when I decide to try something new, I go full barrel lol. I stumbled on a ton of healthy recipes for meals and sugar free (actually healthy all in all ) desserts in a effort to try new stuff for all of us, and especially myself (need to/want to lose about 20 lbs) and easy child (she's chubby, not fat, but for the first time she told me its emotionally affecting her). easy child and I have talked about things we can do and she's so on board, and luckily she loves to help me cook and to try new stuff. So it's turning into a fun thing to find delicious things that are good for us and can cure us when we get killed with sweet tooths or cravings etc.

    Anyhow, as things are want to do with me, this search for ideas and recipes turned into a mad desire to try my hand at canning (well jarring) fresh stuff after I stumbled across a recipe for some sugar free fruit things (pies, sugar free fruit butter to replace real butter for sweet attacks) etc. That led to looking up how to jar this stuff for longer storage, which led to a site that had so many wonderful instructions for a ton of stuff. I spent hours last night weeding through for ones we'd all eat and enjoy and seem to be a process I can handle in cooking etc.

    Next weekend I plan to start and I'm awfully glad we have a huge walk in pantry with loads of shelves because the list of things I'm sure we'll enjoy is loooooong. And no making one or two jars of something for me, if I'm making something anyhow, I'll be doing big batches.

    Sooooo, any tips, ideas or recipes for things you all make???

    So far I've found great instructions for :

    Fruit: Jam, preserves, pie filling, chutney, butter, honey and syrups (who knew you could make cherry, strawberry, peach, pear etc honey butter and syrups?? I knew about apple butter, that's about it ... imagine no sugar pure fruit blueberry or strawberry syrup or honey? OMG I'm drooling lol)

    Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce, salsa.

    Pickles (Can't wait to make these!!!), all kinds of relish (cucumber, zucchini relish, corn relish), pickled onions.

    What do you make? Is it easy? Got recipes?
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    There is a really good book put out by Bell for canning, everything from A-Z, with pictures and recipes, etc. You've listed just about everything I've made. I love canning. When I get a minute I will add my chutney recipe, however, it's not sugar free, but you can improvise I'm sure. I made apple butter and it took FOREVER - I will never do it again. Instead I'll just buy it from a farm stand!!

    Have fun with it!
  3. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Pickles are really easy to make! It's better if you grow your own cucumbers though and there are special varieties they use to make pickles, a little different than the ones you would usually use in salads. The cucumbers used to make pickles are a little "wartier" than salad cucumbers. You'll want to use the smaller ones too and I don't know if you can find them in the stores - easier to grow your own. Around here they sell the spices already pre-packaged for making bread & butter pickles, dill pickles, etc., and that makes it much easier. As with any kind of canning though, the big initial expense is in the jars and lids, but then you can use them over and over again.
  4. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I can see it takes a long time for the butters lol. That's why I plan to make large batches of some of these things, if its taking all that time I plan to do it once in a blue moon. I did find a terrific site that has some great instructions for tons of projects and the butter recipes all allow for using the crockpot over night to do the butter which means it actually isn't the tedious process it is if you are having to babysit a big pot on the stove for ages and ages. I'll let you know if it is as smooth and simple a process as described once I try it lol.

    I'm really excited about the pickles since we are pickle lovers as are my extended family. Luckily I live in a area with farms in abundance and a active and thriving weekly farmers market. So I plan to head down tomorrow to ask around about a large amount of cucumbers suitable for pickles and ensure that they are available in the amounts I want for pick up next Sat. when they return to the market. I've also got a few connections to other local farmers (they even deliver when they come into town) so I have terrific access to farm/garden fresh fruits and veggies. Unfortunatly since i rent and don't own a home, I can't do a garden. I miss gardening! We do often get cucumbers in the smaller size right in our grocery stores. Usually we can get a 4 quart basket for about $2. Cheaper directly from the farmer and in larger amounts.

    It is going to cost a lot as mentioned to get started with the jars etc. Luckily we have been struggling without S/O having any income while off course for 3 1/2 months. But he's back on course and they back owe us over 4K as of 2 weeks ago, not sure how much they owe us now. Being deposited this week. So splurging on supplies is my treat for having struggled and scrimped to get us all by the past many months (and unbelievably managed to do it with us owing NO back debts, no back bills, I astonish myself lol).

    This morning my S/O and I walked up to our only local "small" hardware store. I love this place. Checked out all of their supplies and the staff know us well (its a mom and pop type old fashioned place). They saw me with a pad of paper and pen, writing down the prices on all the sizes of jars, some canning accessories (cool processors for coring, de-seeding and peeling, crushing, juicing etc) and all the pre packaged spice stuff and pectins, cheesecloth and so on. We started talking about canning and in the end, my cost of what I want for a massive amount of stuff to keep me happily canning for months was about $325. They told me that since its end of season and they don't like to store out of season stuff (space thing), they'd put all I had on my list away for me to pick up next Friday. And rounded it off to $200 taxes included (15% tax here, so saving nearly half the cost on supplies). That had me grinning. I'm a bargain hunter ;)

    I'm totally going to enjoy myself. I've been so bored with the kids in school and I got spoiled having S/O home for the past few months every day and miss him horribly. I feel useless being unable to hold a job due to waxing and waning MS stuff. It's been really affecting me. So this is a great way to fill my time, and I have always gotten immense joy and fulfillment when I do things for my family (cooking, cleaning etc). And it will make me feel better to contribute to healthier eating and to saving us much needed money. We also have a very active freecycle site here that I just discovered and joined this week. So I'm going to place an ad for extra unneeded canning things as well as for anybody looking to unload any type of preservable produce. Others have had amazing stuff come their way through this group for just this purpose.

    I'm on such a mission lol. I am disappointed that I can't get started until next weekend!

    Donna, any tips for pickles that help them stay crispy or anything I should know to watch out and not do? lol
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    One word of caution: please be sure to use reliable sources if you are canning instead of freezing for the sake of safety. Sugar acts as a preservative for fruit, and high temperatures (water bath, or in some cases aided by the pressure canner) are necessary for low acid products. Some products, such as pumpkin or sweet potato puree are too thick to guarantee high enough temps throughout to be safe. If you haven't done it before and are unfamiliar with the safety issues, it's probably worth starting out at a reliable site or use the Ball Book already mentioned.

    I'd also seriously suggest starting out with small batches because trust me, it's a bummer to spend a lot of time and money to can up a batch of spaghetti sauce and then find out you don't like it at all. I've also found that my family likes some things better frozen than canned. I spent much of yesterday freezing peaches--blanche to remove peels, immerse in cold water to stop cooking, peel and then let juice up in sugar and Fruit Fresh.

    Some easy things can save you loads of time,m and often money. For instance, last year we extracted blueberry juice from fruit for jelly. This year we bought organic cherry juice concentrate and it was so much easier and cheaper.

    The USDA guidelines haven't been updated in awhile, but you can find them here.

    I'm copying some of our favorite recipes. We just discovered the Caramel Spice Pear Butter recipe last month and it's to die for. :) We don't use the low sugar versions so you'll want to look into methods for adapting (ie use low sugar pectin and adjust amounts accordingly).


    4 cups peaches and plums
    1 (1 3/4 oz.) pkg. powdered fruit pectin

    2 tbsp. lemon juice
    5 1/2 c. sugar

    ½ tsp grated fresh ginger

    Peel, pit and coarsely grind fruit separately in the blender; measures 4 cups. In an 8 to 10 quart kettle combine chopped fruit, ginger pectin and lemon juice. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard, uncovered for 1 minute, stir constantly. Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon. Ladle jam at once into hot, clean half pint jars,
    leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids. Turn jars upside
    down for 5 minutes. Turn right side up and cool. Check when cool, check the seal by feeling for an indentation in the center of the lid. Makes 6 half pints.

    Apple Marmalade

    6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
    1 cup water
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 package fruit pectin
    4 cups white sugar
    1 lemon, sliced thin
    1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

    Combine apples, water and lemon juice in a large non-reactive pan. Cover and boil gently for 15 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times to prevent sticking. Stir in fruit pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, lemon slices and cinnamon. Return to a full boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Process.

    Apple Butter

    Apples (about 18 pounds)
    ¼ cup apple cider vinager
    4 ½ cups white sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    4 teaspoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon cloves

    Quarter apples and fill 12 quart roaster so full that the lid will not go down (use 6 quart crockpot for half recipe). Add vinegar; cook on low temperature until apples are softened. Put through sieve to remove peels, seeds and cores. Add sugars and spices. If you like a thinner apple butter you may blend it at this point, otherwise return to pan and cook for 4 hours. Pour into hot sterilized jars and process.

    Caramel Spice Pear Butter

    15 Bartlett pears
    2 cups water
    4 ½-6 cups sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    Wash the pears but do not peel or core them. Slice them into a heavy saucepan at least 5 quart size. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, water, cover and cook until tender (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat and press the pears thorough a colander or a food mill. Measure the pear pulp (you should have about 8 cups). If it’s much more, return it to the pan and reduce to 8 cups.

    Using a frying pan, heat 1 ½ cups of the sugar with ¼ cup water, stirring until it melts and caramelizes to a medium brown color. Pour immediately into the pear pulp. The syrup will sizzle and harden, but dissolve again as the preserves cook. Add the remaining sugar (to taste), cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Cook uncovered until thick, about 45 minutes. Stir frequently as it hardens to prevent it from sticking.
    Stir in remaining lemon juice if needed to adjust flavor.

    Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.
    Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes.

    Dill Pickles
    Makes brine for 4 pints

    Boil & let cool completely:
    3 C water
    1 cup vinager
    2 Tablespoon salt
    2 Tablespoon sugar

    Place the following in each jar:
    1 teaspoon pickling spice
    1 big head of dill on bottom
    little piece of onion

    Add pickles. Pour bring over pickles. Place in cold water bath. Bring to boil and boil 5 minutes or until pickles JUST turn dark color.

    (1 head dill = ½ T)

  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    PS Thrift shops and garage sales are a great place to pick up canning supplies. I got two good quality food mills last week for $3.50 total at a thrift shop and last year I found a vintage Chinois Strainer and stand for $5. In a few months most grocery stores around here will start closing out pectin, lids, etc.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    You can do an easier apple butter by peeling and coring, then putting it all in the crock pot to cook down. It's less apt to burn so you don't have to babysit it.
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Those recipes sound wonderful, thank you!!! And I can easily adapt them to sugar free.

    Luckily I found a wonderful professional site not only with great instructions and recipes, but all the do's and dont's for how to ensure safety and ensure no bacteria growth etc. I have made homemade tomato sauce before, just never preserved it by jarring, so I'm comfortable going for a big batch right away since I know what we'll like and not like. There are a few things I"ll be trying a small bit first though, certain chutneys and relishes etc to ensure I get the seasoning etc right for our preferences before I make a large batch.

    All of the fruit butter recipes I have found have traditional cooking instructions but also have a crockpot instruction for the reducing it stage. I have a very large one already and my brother has a spare large one he is bringing to me today that he was just looking to find someone to pass it on to. He also has some great pots he doesn't use so is giving me, perfect for sterilizing jars, lids, etc.

    Those butter recipes sound delicious. I can't wait to try some, I'm going to print them out.

    A friend just told me too that at a certain small family owned supermarket downtown they reduce the prices this time of year on all their lids, jars, pectin, fruit fresh, brining granuals, pickle spices, salsa spice packets etc. Going to check it out this week.
  9. tawnya

    tawnya New Member

    Just remember that if whatever you are canning doesn't have a lot of vinegar it it, you must pressure can it. (i.e. green beans) Most peppers, tomatoes, etc. can be water bathed. Jams and jellies can be, too, because of the pectin. It sounds like you are checking it out, though. I do always freeze my tomato sauce becuase it it just easier.

    Do you have Mrs. Wage's brand stuff up there? I have used it in a pinch to make salsa. I think there is also a pickle mixture. Now, it isn't as good as making it from scratch, but if you have a bunch of tomatoes, it does work.

    Good luck, and let us know what you have in your cupboards for winter! The jars always look so pretty!
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I have no recipes but my family, a couple of generations back, canned (jarred) everything imaginable. They were offspring of farmers and were trying to feed their families during the depression. You could probably find recipes online if any of these struck your fancy. Green beans, pickled corn, pickled eggs, chow-chow (there are many variations), homemade pickles (sweet and dill), beets, apple butter (yum yum on biscuits), along with the typical preserves. Of course, they grew their own rhubarb for rhubarb pie and grew their own tomatoes for tomato sauce, too. LOL!

    PS SRL is correct about supplies- I recently sold about 11 canning jars for $1.
  11. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    There are a lot of on line canning sites. Do a search.

    The pickling spice packs may not be to your liking. I personally do not like them and make my own with fresh seasonings.

    Remember that you can reuse the jars but you cannot reuse the lids.

    SRL, thanks for the crockpot tip, I will try it when we do our annual apple picking trip!
  12. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    It's been years and years since I made pickles, back when we lived in the country and we had a big garden, so I don't remember all the particulars. But they were as good or better than the ones you buy in the grocery store. We planted all kinds of stuff but it seems like the only things that really grew well were the cucumbers, squash and green beans. We put up dozens of jars of pickles and froze enough green beans to last a year!

    This brings back so many memories! When we were kids, my grandmother (my dad's mother) canned practically everything! They had both come from farming families and even though they lived in a residental area, they had a big double lot and raised practically everything they ate. They had a huge garden with all kinds of vegetables, fruit trees and grape vines. She canned all the vegetables, made every imaginable kind of jams and jellies, even whole or sliced fruits for pies. They raised chickens too, for the eggs and the meat and she would even can whole, stewed chickens! In their basement were rows and rows of shelves all along the walls with hundreds of jars of her canned foods. I used to love to go down there and look at it all!
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    EEEeeeeewwwwwww........:916blusher: LOL!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  14. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    this is really strange.....I posted that question about Splenda and canning a couple of hours ago before even reading the board. I just got back on to see if I had any replies and saw this thread from this morning! Go figure that two of us would pose canning questions that same day!

    I'm going to just delete my thread....

    I decided to do it the sugar free route because I'm doing GI. Not to mention, a simple blueberry jam recipe can call for even amounts of fruit and sugar!!! And that's just 4 8oz jars' worth! That's way too much sugar. The only thing that really makes it different, and I've just done the blueberry and the peach/rasberry jams, is that sugar is a preservative so the sugar free jellies and preserves don't last as long in the fridge once you open it. It is suggested that you use the little 4 oz jars if you are doing sugar free.

    My question was whether you could substitute Splenda when you are not using fruit and not using sugar free pectin - like for bbq sauces, etc.

    We'll share our success and lament our "oopses".

  15. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Sounds good Sharon :) Good tip for the smaller jars for the sugar free stuff. Thanks!

    You'll probably enjoy the site I posted to you on your original thread, it has some great tips along with the recipes and I learned a lot just browsing around. From what I've found, splenda is fine in bbq sauces etc but if I recall there's a bit of a difference in making it in order to get the whole sticky thing regular sugar does for sauces that you want to carmelize such as bbq sauce.
  16. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The zesty peach bbq sauce actually calls for honey - 1 1/4 cups - but it makes 8 1/2 pint jars. Ends up being like an 1/8th a cup per jar. Even though I'm on the low sugar program, I think that's pretty low. The other two are Thai hot and sweet dipping sauce and ginger pear preserves. They both call for sugar. I found those recipes on which is actually the Ball jar site.

    I just made another 4 8oz jars of blueberry jam a little while ago. While I was typing, I heard the last jar "ping"! One thing I might change on this recipe is the sugar free white grape juice. I think I'm going to try the sugar free cranberry juice next time with the blueberries.

    I really wish I had started doing this earlier in the summer when I could have taken advantage of the summer tomatoes (not to mention the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries - you can still get them, but they are about 50 cents higher a pint and aren't as sweet as they were earlier in the summer). One of the big farmer's markets here in town still has some small late summer "Hanover" (the best, in my opinion) tomatoes and I might go out there tomorrow and get a few pounds and do some marinara sauce!

    This is fun!
  17. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Sounds yummy, all of it!! I am wishing I'd started earlier too in order to get all those great in season deals. But this is a good learning experience and I should be a pro by next summer lol.

    I'm glad you are having fun!
  18. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    This is the first year in quite some time that I haven't had a large garden and spent tons of time canning. We usually grow and can most of our veggies and a lot of fruit.

    One of my favorites, tho, to can is meat. I've done chicken, venison, beef, and pulled pork. They are EXCELLENT if you need a quick meal - no thaw time. A jar of chicken, some noodles, and mashed potatoes and you've got a good, home cooked meal on the table in under 30 min. We raise the beef and hunt for venison, but I buy chicken and pork when its on sale.

    If you want recipes, let me know!
  19. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks Shari. Sounds great. I've read about it being trickier to do meat though? For safety reasons? Is there some golden rule or method that ensures it is safely done etc? I've often thought of this considering I do stock up on meat during sales etc. It would be lovely to can it instead of always having to thaw from the freezer etc. Usually if I forget to thaw something we end up making horrible food choices, usually ordering in or something pricey and unhealthy. I know my brother in law cans fresh salmon, he caught a bunch today in fact and will be canning it tomorrow.
  20. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I follow the guidelines in my canner books, and we've never had any trouble. I didn't even know it was supposed to be trickier.

    Our canned meat is a lifesaver around here. Like you, if we have t thaw something, its likely we'll get dinner from some other source!