Posts Tagged ‘Home Canning’

Giving Your Home Canning As Gifts – Jalapeno Jelly Recipe

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

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.

How To Find Affordable Produce – Home Canning

Friday, June 11th, 2010

by Tracy Falbe

Home Canned FoodPreserving your own food with home canning techniques is no longer the dying art of grandmothers and church ladies. Younger people and families are reviving home canning, but you need fresh food in bulk in order to preserve it.

So, how do you get the produce without spending too much?

Growing the food yourself is the obvious, but not only answer. Home gardeners have been canning their fruits and vegetables for generations. Planting a garden and putting in some fruit trees are definitely rewarding. You will get the freshest and most convenient produce this way, but you probably can’t grow everything you want. Time and space limitations often restrict your ability to produce in quantity as well, but you do have options.

Farmers’ markets are expanding all over the country and they offer you a great way to buy fruits, vegetables and other produce. Check your local daily or weekly newspapers for ads and articles about farmers’ markets in your area. The markets are often located in downtowns, so check with your chamber of commerce or downtown business associations for information about farmers’ markets. The website has a searchable database of farmers throughout the United States that may be helpful as a starting point too.

You will likely find that you have more than one market in your area through the summer. While you’re at the market, you will be able to meet growers of the types of food in which you’re most interested. Growers often open their farms to the public, and you can find out if you can connect with them directly outside the market venue. They often have bulk deals at the farms. At the market, expect to pay retail prices. Sometimes the prices are better than the supermarket, but you will still be at the retail level.

You-pick or U-pick farms are also widespread. These operations are popular for berries and fruits. You can find them through ads in local publications and signs on the side of the road. Sometimes your vendors at the farmers’ market have u-pick operations too, so be sure to ask. You can get a great price on produce at the u-pick farms because you are supplying the labor and transportation.

I just paid $1.50 a quart for strawberries by picking them myself. The work was a little dirty but otherwise a fairly pleasant activity. It actually felt nice to be out there with other people harvesting food.

People have been doing this since we were wearing fig leaves, and the experience had a natural and serene quality. If I had to do it all day, the work would have been backbreaking, but it’s a nice outing for an hour to get food for your family at a great price. You will certainly gain a deep empathy with the underpaid people who have to put in long days harvesting the food sold at the supermarket.

Another emerging way to find produce is If your community has an active Craigslist be sure to frequently scan the ads in the farm and garden category. This will alert you to deals on local produce, markets, and u-pick farms.

Road side stands usually have decent prices as well. The produce tends to be very fresh because the stands are often right next to the fields.

You can reasonably expect to find good prices on fresh produce during peak seasons. With a little effort you can find the best growers and obtain quality food for home canning.

When I picked strawberries the other day, I paid $12 for 8 quarts. This would have easily cost $24 at the market, so I gained a 50 percent discount with under 1 hour of labor. With that 8 quarts of super fresh strawberries, I put up 18 half pints of jam, made a strawberry crisp dessert, and froze about a quart of whole strawberries to use in a pie later. I put in a big day of work, but all that jam will last my family for months and taste better than anything I can buy.

This is the basic recipe for Canning Strawberry Jam:

  • 5 cups strawberries
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package fruit pectin powder
  • 7 cups sugar

Fill and heat a water bath canning kettle. Bring the water almost to boiling, at least 180 degrees F and sterilize 8 to 10 half pint canning jars and new lids in the hot water. Set them aside on a clean cloth.

Then in a big sauce pan, add the strawberries and lemon juice. Crush the strawberries with a potato masher while heating to a boil. Once you have a nice berry mash, thoroughly stir in the pectin. Bring this to a hard boil that cannot be stirred down. Then stir in the appalling amount of sugar. Keep stirring until you reach that hard rolling boil again. Maintain the boiling for 1 full minute and then shut off the heat.

I usually let the jam cool for 5 to 10 minutes and stir it a couple times. Turn the heat back on for your water bath and start filling your jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe clean the jar edges and put on the lids and bands. Once the water bath is boiling, lower the jars into the water bath and process them for 10 minutes. (If you’re at elevations about 1,000 feet, you may need to process longer. Look for directions specific to your area.)

Remove the jars from the water bath and set them on a counter to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Do not disturb them. You will likely hear the lids pop shut within minutes of taking them out of the water.

You can get many jam and jelly recipes like this one out of the box of fruit pectin. For complete information about home canning and more recipes, please visit and bookmark my website Canning Local

Home canning at higher altitudes

Friday, May 1st, 2009

by guest writer Tracy Falbe

With the growing season about to get underway, you might already have some home canning recipes picked out to try this summer. But for those hillbillies actually up in the hills, you’ll need to take your altitude into account. The processing times mentioned in most canning recipes are valid for locations from sea level to 1,000 feet. If you live higher up the hill than that, you’ll need to use adjusted processing directions.

We’ll have to recall some book learning to understand the reasons for the increased processing times at higher altitudes. As any flatlander who has taken a hike in the mountains can attest, the air is thinner up there. Thinner air means a lower air pressure, which influences the temperature at which water boils. Boiling is the process of water being turned into vapor by heat energy, and lower air pressure makes it easier for the heated water to vaporize.

The reference Putting Food By, 3rd Edition by Hertzberg, Vaughn, and Greene states:

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit up to 1,000 feet elevation; at 203 F at 5,000 feet; and 194 F at 10,000 feet.

The lower boiling point temperatures that result at higher altitudes mean that foods might not be getting heated up enough to be safely stored when you attempt to preserve them at higher elevations. This is corrected by increasing the amount of time that the jars spend in the boiling water bath. When you use a pressure canner, you adjust for altitude by increasing the pressure and sometimes the time.

To determine how to adjust the processing time for a boiling water bath, first see if the processing time stated in the recipe is for less than or more than 20 minutes.

  • Less than 20 minutes will need an extra 1 minute of processing for every 1,000 feet altitude. For example, at 3,000 feet altitude, you will add 3 extra minutes.
  • More than 20 minutes of processing time will need to add 2 minutes for every 1,000 feet. For example, at 3,000 feet altitude you add 6 extra minutes.

Altitude adjustments for pressure canning are trickier. One of the simpler approaches to pressure canning up to 3,000 feet altitude states that if a recipe calls for a pressure of 5 pounds, increase it to 10 pounds. If the recipe calls for 10 pounds pressure, increase it to 15 pounds. For recipes calling for 15 pounds, use the same pressure because it is not safe to go much higher, but you will need to add more processing time. For altitudes above 3,000 feet, you cannot use a small pressure canner because it can’t hold enough water to maintain the longer processing times because of accelerated water evaporation at the higher altitudes. A large pressure canner that accommodates 12 quarts or more must be used above 3,000 feet.

If you are planning to can foods at higher altitudes you will need to get yourself a good reference, like Putting Food By mentioned above, so you can have detailed guidelines for preserving specific types of foods. Also carefully consult the instructions of your pressure canner, and ideal resources for you will be information published by your local agriculture extension service.

Although home canners at higher altitudes face some challenges, they have the consolation of excellent views to enjoy during the longer processing times.

This information was provided by Tracy Falbe, publisher of Canning Local

Become a genuine hillbilly hoarder with a pressure canner

Friday, April 17th, 2009

by guest writer Tracy Falbe

Home canning can be addictive. Once you get hooked on preserving your own food, you’ll start thinking “What can I preserve next?” But the simple boiling water bath will only get you so far. Many types of food, like vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish can only be safely canned with a pressure canner. These are the foods that have a low-acid or non-acid chemical composition, which makes them susceptible to the bacterium that produces botulism toxin. This hazardous and sometimes lethal toxin can only be destroyed in the high temperatures achieved within a pressure canner.

The pressure canner works just like a pressure cooker, except that it is large enough to hold quart canning jars. Water is heated within the sealed canner and the pressure builds. The pressure causes the water molecules of the steam to continually collide, which produces temperatures of 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This is significantly higher than the 212 degrees Fahrenheit that is the top temperature of a boiling water bath.

What a pressure canner will do for you:

Provide the capability to can your own soups and stocks containing vegetables and meats. Some people like to preserve their leftovers after they make a big kettle of soup. When canning soups, you will have to keep a couple things in mind to be successful. Cream-based or milk-based soups are not recommended for home canning. I’ve read that the milk product will tend to separate during the canning process. I’m not saying it is impossible but I’ve read several warnings against trying it. What you can do is preserve the soup base and then add the cream or milk later when you heat up the soup to eat. For example, for cream of mushroom soup, you would can the mushroom broth and then add the cream when you open the jar and reheat the soup. This applies to any cream of vegetable soup. The same principle will be necessary for pasta and noodles. Do not can the soup with the noodles in it. They will likely break down and dissolve during processing. Simply add the noodles when you heat the soup before serving.

A pressure canner will allow you to can any vegetable safely. You CANNOT use a boiling water bath to preserve vegetables like corn, beans, peas, squash, carrots, beets, peppers, potatoes, and so forth. You must use a pressure canner unless you are using a pickling recipe. For some people, this could be a worthwhile endeavor. If you grow sweet corn, the crop comes in all at once. Sometimes you can’t eat it all, despite your family’s best efforts, so canning that corn would be a great idea. The book that came with my Presto pressure canner even explains how to can dried beans or peas. You soak and boil them and then can them. This is handy because dried beans or peas are extremely affordable, but — if you’re like me — it is easy to forget to soak them ahead of time when you need them for cooking. By cooking and canning them, they are ready to go off the shelf anytime.

With a pressure canner, you will be able to can all meats (including game), poultry, and fish. Some people like to do this when they see a good price on meat and they do not have freezer space. They will buy a bunch of the meat and can it. Then they have, for example, jars of cooked chicken or beef ready to go off the shelf as convenience food. And if you have a fisherman in your family who shows up once in a while with a big catch, that food can be canned as well. I was told by a lady who did this that the fish tasted wonderful.

Deciding to beef up your home canning beyond the boiling water bath will require an investment of approximately $100 for a pressure canner. Should you get a pressure canner, carefully follow the directions for set up, use, and maintenance. The book that comes with whatever model you buy should also include many recipes. Also be aware that the pressure canner can do double duty as a boiling water bath simply by not sealing it. Home canning with the pressure canner will be a long process because it takes time to pressurize the cooker and then to let it cool down (don’t run it under cold water).

Although it requires an investment and significant effort, the pressure canner remains a versatile piece of equipment that will help you take advantage of food deals and bountiful gardens. I personally use mine mostly for tomatoes. Although tomatoes and tomato sauce can be preserved in a boiling water bath, the results are superior when you use the pressure canner. I have done tomatoes both ways and really prefer them out of the pressure canner. Their color and flavor are better.

At my website Canning Local, I have information about determining which foods require pressure canning and how to use the equipment.

How affordable is home canning?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

By guest writer Tracy Falbe

Doing something yourself often implies saving money, but with home canning you need to make initial equipment investments before you will see any savings. Fortunately, even in the beginning, preserving food with home canning will cost about the same as just buying the food at the supermarket, but your investment of money and effort will gain you superior quality and a full pantry while setting yourself up for long term savings. The food at the supermarket is not going to get any cheaper, but a home canner can control costs into the future.

Basic equipment needed for home canning:

  • Large enamel kettle with rack and lid for a boiling water bath – $20 (This simple equipment is safe to buy used)
  • Canning jars with new lids and bands (12 packs) $5 to $12 depending on size and store
  • Jar lifter – $2 to $5
  • Candy thermometer – $4 to $7
  • Jar funnel – $2 to $5
  • Ladle – $3 to $6

The items needed for boiling water bath canning are not particularly expensive. If you do a lot of canning projects, then the costs of the jars can add up, but you get to reuse the jars year after year as long as they don’t get chipped or cracked. As your collection of jars grows, your costs of home canning go down in subsequent years. When you reuse jars, you must buy new lids, but they only run about $2 a dozen.

Also be aware that the prices on the Ball or Kerr jars can vary depending on the store where you are shopping. This is something you will have to investigate in your area. I know where I live different stores can have substantially different prices. For example, a 12-pack of half pint jars is $4.98 at one grocery store and $7.99 at another. So, find the place with the best prices where you live.

As you get involved with home canning, you will likely want to buy other items like an apple peeler, food processor, or food mill. Depending on the food you are preparing, these extra items will make life much easier.

Now I’ll share an example of preparing some strawberry jam. When I make strawberry jam, I spend $7 for a flat of 6 strawberry pint baskets. I need half pint jars, so a dozen of those costs about $5 when you know the best place to buy them. Jam needs a lot of sugar, and I will approximate the sugar cost for the batch at about $1. Another essential is a package of fruit pectin that runs about $2. I will throw on another $1 to cover minor items like the lemon juice and the gas or electricity to run the stove. Aside from the cost of the kettle, jar lifter, thermometer, and funnel, I need to spend $16 for the batch of jam that will yield 8 or 9 half pint jars. To make the numbers easy, I will say that the batch yielded 8 jars for a cost of $2 per jar. That is a very competitive price for a little jar of jam that would easily be $2.50 to $3.50 at the store. Plus your jam will be tasty and made with strawberries you selected. I always make my jam the same day I buy the strawberries, and I recommend you do the same because strawberries get mushy quickly. I buy from little farms next to where I live, which means the strawberries are picked in the morning and cooked and preserved by me in the afternoon.

Because I’ve been making my family’s supply of jam for a couple years now, I have a stock of jars ready to go and no longer need to buy them.

As this example shows, preserving food with a boiling water bath is affordable even for people on a budget. I would say that all the investments necessary for home canning are accessible to everyone with the exception of the pressure canner. This large pressure cooker that accommodates jars carries a price tag of $90 to $120. If you want to be able to can all sorts of foods, including meats, soups, and non-pickled vegetables, then the pressure canner will be required. You might be able to reduce the expense if you have one or two families that want to buy one with you. Then everyone could share it. Be careful buying a used one because the seals and the gauge might not be functioning anymore.

Although equipment investments are necessary, home canning fits a frugal lifestyle, especially because it allows you to stock up on good food at a decent price. You might also be able to benefit from your equipment investment by offering to can some produce provided by another person for a share of the food. For example, your neighbor has an apple tree. You preserve a bunch of apples and split the results. This way you get free preserved apples and your neighbor gets apples that might have otherwise gone to waste. Now that’s neighborly and frugal.

Learn more about the benefits of home canning and get instructions for how to preserve your food at my website Canning Local

Pickling – An essential skill for home canners

Friday, March 27th, 2009

By guest writer Tracy Falbe

Pickles from the grocery store will not compare to the wonderful pickles you can make yourself and preserve with home canning. Most of my life I detested pickles, but when I learned how to can food, I tried a cucumber pickle recipe…and loved it. You’ll find the recipe below after I explain how pickling works.

The preservation process known as pickling has been around a lot longer than factory-made canning jars. Although pickled foods can last for weeks, even months, you can put them up for a whole year when you combine pickling with home canning. Two more appealing aspects of pickling are it is easy to do and it greatly expands the types of foods you can safely preserve in a boiling water bath canner.

In my previous article that introduced home canning “Good eatin’ from the old timers’ pantry” I explained how the acidity of foods determines which canning method can be safely used. High acid foods can be canned successfully in the boiling water bath and low acid foods require processing in a pressure canner. However, low acid food, which includes most vegetables like cucumbers, corn, okra, beans, peas, zucchini, and peppers, can be pickled and then safely preserved with the simple boiling water bath. With pickling, the acidity of the food is increased by storing it in a pickling solution made with vinegar, which significantly boosts the acidity of the food product. The pickling solution can be enhanced with sugar and spices and thereby create a delicious canned food. Pickling your own foods and canning them really illustrates the high quality food you can obtain with home canning.

Cucumber pickles are a very affordable food to preserve with home canning. Cucumbers generally do not cost much, and, in the summer, home gardeners will happily give you a bag of the prolific vegetables for free. And if you would like to grow some cucumbers, you do not need much space. Four or five plants will bury you in cucumbers. Other vegetables that are great when pickled are beets, zucchini, and okra.

Important to know about pickling:

When making any pickled product, use 5 percent vinegar. This will be specified on the jug’s label. Sometimes you will see 4 percent, but do not use that vinegar for pickling because it is too weak. Also you will need to use pickling salt, which does not have iodine added. The iodine will make the canned goods cloudy. Pickling salt is readily available and it will be labeled as pickling or canning salt.

Sweet bread and butter cucumber pickles canning recipe

10 medium cucumbers

3 medium onions

1/4 cup pickling salt

1 cup 5 percent vinegar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Slice the cucumbers thinly and slice the onions too. Place the sliced cucumbers and onions into a large bowl. Pour the pickling salt over them and cover with water. Place a large plate on top of the vegetables to push them down into the brine. Allow the cucumbers and onions to stand for at least 2 hours or overnight. I usually prepare the vegetables in the evening and can them in the morning. This is technically known as a short brine method because the vegetables are only soaking for less than a day.

The next step is to drain the cucumbers and onions from the brine. In a stock pot, add the water, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, sugar, and turmeric. Bring everything to a boil and add the cucumbers and onions. Boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes until vegetables are tender. As water cooks out of the cucumbers the solution in the pot should increase.

Pack the pickles into sterilized canning jars and cover with the spicy vinegar solution. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top, wipe clean the jar rims and apply the lids and bands. Process the pint jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and let them set undisturbed for 24 hours. You will likely hear the jar lids pop within the first few minutes, but don’t touch. The next day, check to make sure the lids have sealed, wipe the jars and lids clean, and store in a cupboard or pantry for up to one year. Label your jars with the date you made them so you will know when they expire.

I have found that depending on how much moisture cooks out of the cucumbers, I sometimes need to boil some extra water to get enough solution in the jars to reach within 1/2 inch of the top. Just add a little boiling water as needed.

If you are entirely new to home canning you can get the directions for sterilizing the jars and processing with a boiling water bath off the box of canning jars and also at my website Canning Local

Introducing Tracy Falbe – Our New Home Canning Expert

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I’m very excited to introduce a new guest columnist to the HBHW blog. Her name is Tracy Fable and she is quite the home canning expert. Over the coming weeks she’ll be sharing all kinds of tips on how to can food right at home.

Here’s what Tracy said when I asked her how she started her home canning website

“Canning Local” emerged after I presented a home canning seminar last summer for a local community group. The handouts I prepared I turned into a website, plus a few recipes. I had a good turnout for the seminar. I like to joke that 20 people showed up to watch me boil water.

She is about to publish her first guest column post here and I hope you will give her a warm welcome. Then look for more of her home canning tips on a weekly basis.

Aunty Caryn's preserves
Creative Commons License photo credit: revjim5000