Even us hillbillies celebrate holidays that call for gifts; you know the kind of celebrations where we all get out our shoes to wear! Home canning opens up many possibilities for gift making. The projects are affordable while yielding high quality unique foods. With a little extra planning during the harvest season, you can stock up on a supply of charming, yummy, and downright unique gifts to pass out for holidays and birthdays.
When deciding what to can for gifts, first consider the tastes of your recipients. Let the likes and dislikes of your friends and family guide your selections.
Buy some fancy canning jars. In the small half pint and pint sizes, you can usually find crystal cut jars that are prettier than the plain glass jars. Also some jars have decorative lids. Purchasing pretty jars will enhance the appeal of your home canned gifts.
Gift giving also gives you a chance to experiment. A staggering variety of home canning recipes exist. Some are strange but might actually be good. If a recipe that you would like to try catches your eye, but you’re not sure if you want to end up with eight jars of it, then use the recipe for gifts. This way you can try it and give the rest away. Even if you don’t like something, someone else might. You can try several recipes and create sampler gift baskets with sauces, relishes, jams, chutneys, marmalades, salsas, etc.
I’ve included a canning recipe for jalapeno jelly. I’ve been told this is quite tasty, and I think I’m going to try it this year when the jalapenos are ready to pick. Because jalapeno jelly is not something you particularly need a lot of, it is a good home canning project for gift giving. Keep a jar or two for yourself and give the rest away. Also jalapenos are easy to grow and do not cost much if you need to buy them.
Jalapeno jelly home canning recipe
Yields about 5 half pint jars
12 ounces jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 cups cider vinegar, divided
6 cups sugar
2 3-ounce pouches liquid pectin
Green food coloring (optional)
Prepare and sterilize your canning jars and lids.
Puree the jalapeno peppers in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of cider vinegar. Blend until smooth. In a large saucepan combine the jalapeno puree with the remaining cup of vinegar. Add the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 10 minutes. Then stir in the liquid pectin. Return to a hard boil for 1 more minute. Stop the heat and stir in the food coloring if you want to use it. Skim off foam.
While the jelly is still very hot, pour it into the jars and leave 1/4 inch headspace. Clean the rims and put on the lids and bands. Process the jelly jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Then remove the canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars.
As usual let the jars cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Jalapeno jelly is good for sauces and adding to cheese and crackers. And whenever you think something would benefit from the addition of something sweet and spicy, give it a try.
For detailed instructions about how to can food, visit my website Canning Local. It has canning recipes and links to other resources.