Growing up, I spent countless hours watching my grandmother can just about everything, from delicious jams, to okra and pickles, you name it. Her love, sweat and tears over these little jars was obvious after you tasted one of her jellies. I’ve always thought of canning as a lost art and have wished for the patience to master the process, but until recently, had nearly given up the notion of learning how. These days, however, I seem to be hearing about more and more people bringing the canning craze back, and an old tradition seems to be showing signs of new life. In restaurants, in friends’ homes, in magazines, Mason jars are now lining the shelves of pantries, not just for decoration, but for practicality, and are filled once again with lots of good old fashioned yumminess.
Realizing this, I decided it was about time to give canning a shot, make my grandma proud, and see what little miracle I could make in a jar. So, here are a few recipes that are on my beginner canning list and should be on yours too!
Easy Apple Butter
5 cups of applesauce
7 cups of sugar (I only used 5…it just depends on how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup of vinegar
1 tsp. of cinnamon or allspice
Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat and turn down to a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into sterilized jars. Seal at once and let sit overnight.
A note about canning:
The long tradition of canning dates back to the early 1800’s and was a method of preserving large amounts of food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. It provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years, with some types of food lasting even longer. The most important step in canning, or puttin’ up, is to sterilize your jars and lids thoroughly. Place jars and lids in a large stockpot, cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes and remove. Fill your jars and cover at once with metal lids. If you want to get a little more technical, to seal your lids to USDA standards, it is recommended that you place filled jars in a canning rack, place in a canner, and boil yet again. You can also always freeze your jars and pull them out when you are ready to use them.
3 1/2 lbs. of small okra pods
1/3 cup of canning salt
2 tsp. of dill seed
3 cups of water
3 cups white vinegar
2 small hot peppers
4 cloves of garlic
Trim okra stems, careful not to cut into pods. Set aside. In a large pot, combine salt, dill seed, water & vinegar. Bring to a boil. Pack okra into hot jars leaving a fourth of an inch of head space. Put one clove of garlic and 1/2 pepper in each jar. Ladle hot liquid over okra, leaving a fourth of an inch head space. Process for 15 minutes in boiling water canner. Let sit for one week before consuming.
Pear Preserves (Crock Pot Style)
approx. 8 cups of pears
4-5 cups of sugar
Fill crock pot with peeled and chopped pears. Cover with sugar. Put towel or lid over pears and let stand overnight. (Pears should have syrupy consistency in the morning.) Cook for 6 hours, starting on high for about 10 minutes, then turn down to medium. Funnel into jars and seal immediately.
If you want to get really fancy in your canning method,s here are a few more accessories that will make the canning process that much more fun all while making you look like an old pro!
Let us know about your favorite canning recipes!