“How-To” Canning – Fresh Cranberry Jam

cran jellyOne of the best things about this time of year is cranberries!! Fresh cranberries are readily available from now through the holidays and you can make so many delicious things with them from jams to muffins to sweet dips! I really enjoy a good freshly made cranberry jam and this recipe really delivers. It also happens to be one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever made as it does not require any pectin AND if you’re not up for canning, you can just put it into the fridge and use it right away. It makes an excellent topping for toast and cornbread and it’s absolutely delicious spread on a fresh turkey sandwich. I always like to have some on hand in the pantry so I usually double the recipe for canning but if you want just a few jars to use right away, follow the recipe as written.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of Kosher salt

Instructions

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.

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Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the berries pop and the sauce thickens, about 20-25 minutes.

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Cool. After cooking, purée, and strain.

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To can the cranberry jam: (Makes 7 half pint jars)

  • PREPARE boiling water canner and all canning tools. Heat half pint size jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water then place them in hot, not boiling, water until ready to use. Set bands aside.
  • FILL each jar with jelly leaving 1/4″ of headspace. Wipe any excess jam from the rim with a clean cloth.
  • PROCESS the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. Begin timing AFTER the water comes back to a boil.
  • REMOVE the jars from the water and allow them to cool on the counter.
  • CHECK the lids for a tight seal after 12-24 hours. If properly sealed, the lids will not give at all when pressed. Gently tighten the bands and store in the pantry.

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“How-To” Canning – Fresh Tomatoes

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Now that summer is here you will inevitably end up with baskets of fresh tomatoes either from your own garden or from someone else’s. Instead of letting these red, ripe beauties go to waste “can” them for later use. In those cold, dark days of winter you’ll appreciate the sweet taste of summer when you go to make your homemade tomato sauce.

Don’t be afraid to try out canning in your kitchen! It’s a common belief that canning is hard and tedious, but trust me, it’s really not! It requires just a few essential tools and some time. Also, I recommend getting yourself a good book on canning to get you started.

 The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes

Some items that are needed are a non-reactive pot, canning jars in various sizes, a jar lifter, a funnel, and a canning rack. These items can be purchased individually or as a kit, I have found the best prices for canning materials to be on Amazon.

Granite Ware 0718-1 Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit, 9-Piece

The first step in canning fresh tomatoes is to prepare them by removing their skins. This is easily done by blanching them. (You can find information on blanching here: “How-To” Cooking – Blanching) Once the tomatoes are prepared they need to be cooked slightly before canning. Below are the steps to canning fresh tomatoes as outlined on the Fresh Preserving website. When canning, be sure to follow each of the steps properly and do not rush or skip anything. Doing so will result in improperly canned food that is susceptible to mold and contamination. If canning is done right, you’ll have a bounty of preserves, fruits, and vegetables to enjoy all year long!

Materials Needed

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water then place them in hot, not boiling, water until ready to use. Set bands aside.
  2. WASH the tomatoes then blanche them to remove the skins. Dip them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Trim away any green areas and cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.
  3. CUT the tomatoes into quarters to measure about 2 cups. Transfer to a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a potato masher, crush tomatoes to release juices. While maintaining a gentle boil and stirring to prevent scorching, quarter additional tomatoes and add to the saucepan as you work. The remaining tomatoes do not need to be crushed, as they will soften with heating and stirring. Continue until all tomatoes are added, then boil gently for 5 minutes.
  4. ADD ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. Add ¼ tsp Ball®Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
  5. PACK the hot tomatoes into jars leaving a generous 1/2 inch at the top of jar. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot tomatoes. Wipe the rim and center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  6. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

**TIP** – When canning, do NOT work like a factory line filling all of the jars at once then sealing them. Fill a jar with contents then apply the lid and seal before moving to the next jar.  Boil the jars all at once. 

“How-To” Canning – Chunky Cinnamon Apple Pie Jam

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Since the kids were cooperating today and playing very nicely together I decided I would do a little canning since it’s something I have not done in quite a few months. I was planning on a Mango Pineapple Jam however, I was a little short in the mango department so I decided to switch gears and use up all of the Granny Smith apples that I had in the fridge. I know it’s only July but I thought a nice batch of apple jam would be a great thing to “can” now so in a couple of months when the weather changes back to the cool, crisp days of autumn, I’d have this warm and cozy treat on hand and ready to go.

I came across this recipe on the Taste of Home website, it was listed as a “Caramel Apple Jam” . I changed the recipe slightly because when I read that it called for FIVE CUPS of sugar my jaw almost hit the floor. I adjusted the sugar from three cups of granulated sugar to only one cup and from two cups of brown sugar to only one. Granted, two cups of sugar is still a good amount but it is certainly better than five cups! After tasting the jam, I absolutely made the right call in adjusting the sugar. Had I added five cups I think this batch of jam would’ve been sickeningly sweet and ended up in the trash. I also added a 1/4 tsp of apple pie spice in addition to the spices that were called for and I increased the water from 1/2 cup to one cup. I did cut back on the amount of pectin as well, I felt the jam would be way too gelatinous if I used that much.

Because this is such a chunky jam it really is more like an apple pie filling than a traditional jam. If you prefer a smoother jam, you can always run the cooked apples through a food mill to smooth it out before adding the sugar and going forward with the canning. I actually prefer it chunky because I think it lends itself to many other uses. It’s delicious spread on toast or a muffin but it would also be perfect as a topping for vanilla ice cream, pancakes, as a side to pork dishes, and even as a filling in individual hand pies or the Cinnamon Swirl Doughnut Bread that I posted a few weeks ago. I stirred some right into my vanilla yogurt and it was incredible! It’s an extremely versatile jam so the possible uses are virtually limitless. Feel free to experiment using it on other foods both sweet and savory.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups peeled and finely diced Granny Smith apples (about 5-6 apples)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp apple pie spice
  • 2 tsp fruit pectin and 2 tsp calcium water (I use Pomona Low Sugar Pectin, 1 oz. Box)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

Instructions

Prepare and sterilize five 1/2 pint canning jars. Leave the lids in hot (not boiling) water and the jars in the simmering canning pot. The rims can be left to the side. Click Here For Sterilization Instructions

In a large pot combine the apples, water, butter, and spices. Stir over medium low heat until the apples are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the calcium water and then stir in the pectin. Mix well.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stir in the sugar, and bring to a boil again. Cook for about a minute. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam.

One jar at a time, ladle the hot mixture in leaving a 1/4″ of headspace. Remove any air bubbles, adjust the headspace if needed. Wipe the rim of the jar, center a lid on top, and screw on a band just until it’s fingertip tight. Do NOT over tighten.

Once all of the jars are filled, place them in the canning pot ensuring they are fully submerged and covered in water. Bring the water back to a full boil and process the cans for 10 minutes. Do NOT start timing the processing until the water is at a full and rolling boil. After 10 minutes, remove the jars and allow them to cool completely, undisturbed, for at least 8-10 hours.

Soon after processing you should hear a “POP” indicating the jar has been properly sealed. Press the top of the lid, it should be tight and sucked into the jar with no give. If after a few hours you can still press up and down on the lid, you will need to process the jam all over again OR place it in the fridge and begin using it right away. Once the jars are completely cooled and properly sealed give the rim a little tightening and store in the pantry for 9-12 months.

**PLEASE NOTE** – The processing time is for elevations under 1,000 feet. For every 1,00 feet of altitude, adjust the processing time by adding an additional minute.

 

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