Friday, June 29, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Zucchini Relish

This is the kind of relish I grew up on - Grandmother's zucchini relish. Not pickle relish - zucchini relish. Don't knock it until you have devoured it on a hamburger or in your egg salad or wherever you like to use relish.

Zucchini Relish

10 cups ground zucchini (about 5), seeds removed
4 tablespoons salt
2 cups ground onions

Mix and let stand overnight. Drain.


2 red and 2 green peppers
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons celery seed
6 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups white vinegar
Few carrots (for color)

Boil 20 minutes and pack into jars. Process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Bread & Butter Pickles

These pickles are my favorite! Sometimes they go half a jar at a time . . . and that's just me eating them. The good thing about these pickles is that while they do have to sit for 3 hours, they are not the 14-day kind of pickle. Yes, there are some recipes out there that take 14 days to make pickles.

Bread & Butter Pickles

6 quarts cucumbers, medium sized, thinly sliced
6 white onions, medium sized, sliced
3/4 cup salt
2 cups water
1 quart vinegar
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed

Wash cucumbers thoroughly before slicing. Arrange cucumbers and onions in layers in an large bowl. Sprinkle each layer with salt. Cover and let stand 3 hours. Drain off the juice which has accumulated.

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved; boil 3 minutes.

Add cucumber mixture and bring once more to the boiling point but do not boil.

Pack immediately in hot sterilized jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Recipe from the 1942 Woman's Home Companion Cook Book

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Pickles

When canning fruit for jam, soft overripe fruit works just fine. However, when looking for cucumbers for making pickles, you want firm fresh cucumbers. The best cucumbers to use are about 2 inches in diameter and are dark green and covered in warts. 

Many places sell "pickling cucumbers" or simply put "pickles". A pickle is a cucumber it's just that the small cucumbers work better for pickling.

Picture from

When cutting cucumbers for pickling, they can be cut any way you want to eat them. Round slices, cut lengthwise or even whole. For Bread & Butter Pickles, I like round slices. For Dill Pickles, I like some round slices, some cut lengthwise and some left whole.

I also read that putting 2 grape leaves in every jar helps your pickles to be more "crunchier." Hmm... Worth the try.

There are several reasons for pickles not turning out:

1. Discoloration - copper cooking vessel or the wrong kind of vinegar

2. Slimy soft pickles - cucumbers are not thoroughly immersed in brine solution

3. Tough shriveled pickles - too much salt or sugar; too strong vinegar

4. Soft pickles - Too strong a vinegar; too weak a brine solution
     *This is the problem I found to have with my Dill Pickles last year

Picture from

Monday, June 25, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Mrs. Wages

Last Summer when I worked at Oak Grove Farms, we sold Mrs. Wages products. I personally did not use any of the products since I simply followed a recipe for things like Bread & Butter Pickles and Dill Pickles. Guess it may have been a good thing to do for Dill Pickles since mine did not turn out at all. They were simply put . . . gross! However, I have been told that Mrs. Wages mix makes the best Dill Pickles. A friend of mine also told me that she has the best recipe for Dill Pickles. Who knows?

That all being said, I have heard nothing but good things about Mrs. Wages products. There are mixes for guacamole, salsa, tomato sauce, pickles, fruit and many other things. Again, while I cannot personally endorse these particular mixes, they were raved about (and sold at a rapid rate during canning season) at the Farm.

These mixes are particularly helpful when you don't want to spend hours of cooking over the hot stove in the hot Summer. They can be found oftentimes at the grocery store or online (Mrs. Wages).

If you are new to canning, these may be the perfect thing to help get you started.

Friday, June 22, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam. Do those words even go together? They seem so contrary to the other. However, I know at least one guy (my Chris) who would totally jump at the chance to eat this jam. Martha Stewart makes a recipe for Bacon Jam too so it's gotta be good right? Maybe if you put some lettuce and tomato on the bread too it would be like a crazy BLT sandwich. However, I must admit . . . it sounds good. Bacon. Me love bacon!

Bacon Jam

1 pound smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium brown onion sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Tabasco sauce (to taste)
1 cup coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Black pepper to taste
Extra water

In a non-stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a pair of scissors cut into 1 inch pieces.

Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.

Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and stirring.

When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture in the "jam" or you could keep processing to make a smoother and more paste like jam.

Recipe from

Thursday, June 21, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Peach Jam

Last year we made so much peach jam. We gave so much away and we still have so much left. Probably won't be making peach jam this year. However, in about 10 years when we finish all that jam, I'll need a recipe to make more.

Peach Jam (No pectin)

5 pounds peaches
3 teaspoons lemon juice
5 cups sugar

Wash, peel, pit and chop peaches (about 10 cups). Place all ingredients in a large glass bowl and let stand for 1 hour. Transfer to a large stainless or enamel pot.

Bring to a full boil. Boil for 25 minutes to reach the jell point. Stir often and then constantly as the mixture nears the jell point. Remove and skim off foam.

Ladle into clean hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Recipe from (Contributor Dib's)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - No Recipe Cherry Jam

What? Huh? No recipe cherry jam? How does that work? For people like me, it freaks us out! In reality, it works just fine but in my world ... cRaZy!!! Since there, well, really isn't a "recipe", it is a link kinda day. I have not made this jam ... yet. Breathe deep. I may, just may, have to try a recipe without a recipe. Cherries are in season in some places - so go out and enjoy this, um... non-recipe.

Recipe from

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Easy Balsamic Strawberry Jam

While I was making the Blackberry Jam, I saw this recipe for Balsamic Strawberry Jam. Because it looked so delicious, I went ahead and used what strawberries I had instead of waiting to get more.  It was well worth it because this recipe is delicious!!!

Easy Balsamic Strawberry Jam (No pectin)

2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Cook strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar in a medium pan on medium heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. When the jam mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick honey (or 220 degrees F), remove from heat and fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Recipe from

Monday, June 18, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Blackberry Jam

The one drawback of living in Colorado is around here there are not a lot of local farms. There are some but not nearly like back East. Because of that, I am forced to buy un-local ingredients to make jam. Take for instance the blackberries I bought this weekend. They are from CA. Not local. You take what you can get. Especially if it's at a good price!

Blackberry Jam (No pectin)

2 cups crushed blackberries (or raspberries)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a small pan cook blackberries, sugar and lemon juice on high heat for 5 minutes and reduce to medium heat and cook an additional 15 minutes. Skim the foam off the top. Remove from heat and fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above seal level.) The jam will thicken as it cools.

*To make seedless jam, strain the berries in a medium mesh sieve before cooking.

Recipe from

Friday, June 15, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Apricot Jam

Last weekend apricots were in full season. Earlier than expected but I wasn't going to argue at all! Apricot Jam is delicious to make but it takes many many apricots to make a full batch. I used almost 2 pounds of apricots and had to cut this recipe in half. My jam turned out a bit dark because I didn't stir it as much as needed.

Apricot Jam (No pectin)

8 cups diced apricots
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.

Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

Once mixture reaches a rolling boil, continue to boil it for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking.

Remove from heat and fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Recipe from

Thursday, June 14, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Both strawberries and rhubarb are in season most places right now so this is a good jam to start with. The following recipe is super easy and does not contain pectin so it is an all natural jam (if you don't count the sugar). It is a delicious recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (No pectin)

3 cups strawberries, hulled and mashed
3 cups rhubarb, finely diced
5 cups sugar

Mix mashed strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar in a large pot.

Cook to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. After it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the temperature to keep the mixture boiling. Cook 30 to 40 minutes scraping the sides and checking to make sure the bottom is not sticking.

When the jam thickens, remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Put in sterilized canning jar. Process for 20 minutes. (Add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

Recipe from

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Jam v. Jelly

Jam or Jelly ... it's all the same right? Actually there is one big significant difference between the two.

Jam contains pieces of the fruit with in the spread. Oftentimes jam is also called preserves. Many jam recipes call for pectin in them. Pectin comes from plants and is used as a gelling agent. I personally am not fond of using pectin in my jam. No specific reason - just would rather avoid it. It may just be a case of mistaken identity but since I don't 100% know what store bought pectin is made of, I just avoid it all together.

Jelly is a clear or translucent fruit spread made from the fruit juice. Pectin is sometimes used in jelly also. Jelly cooks up the same as Jam with the additional step to remove any pieces of fruit from the spread.

And just to throw another one in there: fruit butters (i.e.: apple butter).

Fruit butter is made of fruit puree, sugar and spices. It is cooked down to a thick consistency but can be spread.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Farmer's Market

The Farmer's Market is a fun and exciting place to get fresh local produce to can. Click on the links below to see if there is a local market near you.

There are many tips and ideas on how to make your way around the market or even get a few good deals.

~To avoid crowds and get the best selection of produce, go when the market is just opening.

~To get the best deals, go close to closing time. A few weeks ago, I came home with a free head of lettuce because the vendor didn't want to have to take it home. Last weekend, we bought 18 perogies for the price of 12.

~Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and wear sunscreen. It has been so hot around here and there isn't a lot of shade at the market.

~It's always helpful to bring one large cloth bag to put all your produce in rather than carrying around many small plastic bags.

~Keep your money is a safe place. Cash is best although some vendors are now using a program on their smart phones to scan credit cards.

~Take a walk through the market first to see what it available before beginning buying.

~Many vendors offer samples - take part but don't use it to eat your lunch off of.

~Enjoy supporting your local farmers!

Monday, June 11, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Produce in Season

After working at a produce farm last summer, I still can't get used to what is in season now here in CO.  It is a huge difference!  In order to not miss out on the best times to buy fresh produce to can, click on the link below to take you to a fabulous website ( for an interactive map that lets you choose where you live and the produce available for a specific month.  

-Fresh produce is not only good for canning but it is also a better deal to eat produce in season.  Just a frugal tidbit.

Friday, June 8, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Helpful Hints

After each previous posting there would be things that I would remember. This is probably not an exhaustive list as I'm sure there will be other things I remember as the canning season goes on so check back often. (Note:  The hints were also added to the original post.)  Consider it a list of helpful hints.

1. Before canning, clean jars with hot soapy water or in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is a novel idea because if you time it just right, your jars will be hot just in time to fill. When hot packing, you want to place the hot food in hot jars before placing them into the hot water.

-Fill the bottom of the dishwasher with already clean jars and nothing else.
-Run the dishwasher with soap to clean the jars again.
-If your timing is off, run the rinse cycle again to heat the jars.

2. While filling the jars, I like to keep my jar lids hot by keeping them in a pan filled with water on a low setting (do not boil the water).

3. After filling the jars remove the air pockets by running a small rubber spatula or chopstick around the side of the jar.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Processing

After the food has been packed into the jar (mainly after the cold pack method), it is processed (or cooked) to seal the jars. Remember if you have hot packed your food and the jars have sealed by themselves, you can skip this step.

There are a few types of processing, but my preferred method is the hot water bath. It's my favorite mainly because the other two types (pressure canning and steamer canning) require special pots which I don't have. Since I don't know much about the other two types, I'm only going to go int detail with the hot water bath.

Before starting any of the processing methods, make sure that after your jars are filled to wipe off the tops of the jars. Place the lid and ring onto the jars by pressing the lid down firmly and screwing the caps down firmly, then turning the cap back 1/4 inch.

Hot Water Bath

Use a large stockpot deep enough for water to cover the jars by about 1-2 inches.

Have the water boiling; lower the sealed jars slowly and carefully into the water. Be careful that the jars don't touch. *If the water boils down, add more water to ensure that the water is at least 1-2 inches above the jars.

Cover the stockpot and begin timing the processing time (click here to view timetable) once the water has once again started to boil.

At the end of the processing time, remove the jars carefully from the water using tongs and place on towels.

Now comes the part I love the best! After the jars are processed and are cooling on the towel, they will begin to seal. You will hear popping as each jar lid seals. It's so exciting to hear your hard work pay off! Check the seals after 12 hours to ensure that they are all sealed. You should not hear a metal popping sound and the top of the lid should be slightly dented. 

Jar rings should not be tightened until the lids have sealed and the jar is cool.  Technically, when storing your jars, you don't really need the ring.  However, I am always worried that I will accidentally pop off a lid when I pick a jar up so I usually live the rings on.

Sealing lids manually

Fill a small pot with water and place your jar upside down in the boiling water for a few minutes. Turn right side up and place on the towel. This should seal the jar.

If your jars do not seal (even after manually trying), place in the fridge and enjoy right away.

Information in part from the 1942 Women's Home  Companion Cook Book

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Methods of Packing

Whew! When I began this month of canning, I didn't realize how in-depth things would have to be explained. For those of you who have canned before, please excuse the simplicity of how it is done. For those of you who have never canned before, I hope this helps. Please know that I do not claim to know everything about canning. There may be a better way to do things. This is the way I learned. Let me know if you do know a better/simpler way.

There are two methods to packing (simply put: the putting in of stuff into jars):

1) Cold Pack Method - The raw food is packed cold into the jars, then processed or cooked in its container. At the end of the processing period the jar is completely sealed immediately.

In simple terms:
~Place your food in the jar and pour in the liquid (not hot). (Example: Peaches with white grape juice) Process by using a hot water bath (details on how this process works to come another day).

*The cold pack method works best on fruits.

2) Hot Pack Method - A short preliminary cooking period precedes the packing into jars. The hot food is immediately packed into the jars and sealed at once.

Grandmother's method of hot packing:
~Place the hot food in the jars. (Example: hot spaghetti sauce) The heat from the food will seal the jars. If the jars do not seal, then you will manually have to seal them (details to come another day).

Information in part from the 1942 Woman's Home Companion Cook Book

Monday, June 4, 2012

'Tis the Season for Canning - Canning Essentials

Last Summer while we lived at Grandmother's house, she taught me how to can. I am so very very glad she did because we have enjoyed the results of the labor all this year. Not only is it delicious but 1) I know what the ingredients are (not full of preservatives and junk) and 2) it is cheaper than buying it at the store. Last year we made pickles (dill and sweet), spaghetti sauce (plain, meat and meaty x2), peaches, peach jam, zucchini relish, spicy salsa, corn relish, applesauce, and pizza sauce. I cannot wait for this years crop of veggies to come in because we are getting low on some things. Over the month of June, I would like to share some of those recipes (plus some new ones).

Canning essentials you will need:

1. A waterbath canner with rack or a large stockpot big enough for large jars to be covered with water.

2. Tongs or jar lifter can be found at most grocery stores or Walmart.

3. Jars can be found at garage or estate sales for a minimal price. After people found out that I was canning, I had a couple of people give me boxes of jars to use. Another great place to look is Simply post on there that you are looking for jars. If those places are a no go, most grocery stores or Walmart have them.

4. Lids and rings come with new jars; however, lids cannot be reused for canning but the rings can.

5.  Funnels are so helpful when putting your food into the canning jar.  

Most grocery stores have a canning kit that includes tongs, funnel, etc.

Other basics are towels to set your hot jars on and a small pot for heating up your lids and rings. Other than that, those are the essentials to canning.