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Are you preserving, canning or putting food by?

So about ten weeks ago I posted a query about preserving and canning, here:


I had a bit of a lapse in my preserving regimen when we moved from SoCal to NorCal but I just started up again. Just wanted to see how everyone else was doing. Whether or not you posted before, have you been canning/drying/preserving/infusing/putting food up? What have you been making? Where are you getting your produce? Care to share any recipes or tips? Got any questions?

I posted on strawberry jam on my blog, http://omnivoreherbivorecarnivore.blo....

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  1. I've been canning a lot for the past few weeks (well, a lot for someone who has never done it before), and I've found it a lot of fun. So far, I have 11 pints and 5 quarts of tomatoes, 6 4 ounce jars of raspberry jam, 5 4 ounce jars of blackberry jam, and 4 quarts of bourbon peaches. I'm planning on more raspberry jam tonight (the raspberry jam that I made is a little too firm, it was my first time ever making jam, but the blackberry was great, so I have hope for the jam making). All of my tomatoes are San Marzanos, which I've got from local farmers, and all of the other fruit I've gotten from farmers markets. After making the raspberry jam tonight, I'm not sure what else I'm going to make, but I hope this thread will give me some more great ideas! I might check out your strawberry jam, my nephew wants me to make him some.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      I have mixed feelings about putting up tomatoes because the canned versions we can get are so good. On the other hand the tomatoes that are turning up at farmer's markets are unbelievable. What kind of tomato canning did you do? And did you pressure can or hot water bath?

      1. re: piedsdesanges

        I know what you mean about that, but there was something very satisfying about canning tomatoes (which is why I've done it three weeks straight, and all in all, ended up canning probably about 22 or so pounds of tomatoes). I did hot water bath, and basically just slipped off the skins, packed them whole into jars, and processed in a water bath for 40 minutes (for pints, 45 for quarts). Once you get on a roll, it's easy to do a lot of them, they're packed in their own juice (with a little bottled lemon juice and salt, because that's what the instructions said), and it's fun to have so many home canned tomatoes on hand. I was originally thinking about canning sauce, but it's so easy to do the tomatoes, and now they're a lot more useful, because I can use them for so many different things.

        1. re: JasmineG

          Very cool. You're changing my mind. Have you thought about adding spices or doing salsa?

          1. re: piedsdesanges

            I thought about adding spices, but I feel like it's easier to just can the tomatoes whole, and then I can use them in any way that I want to when I open the jars, without having to worry about what spices got added to which jars. I used these instructions, by the way: http://www.kitchengardeners.org/2006/... which were very helpful, and after the first time doing it, you know the drill. I've been thinking a lot about doing salsa, but I'm a little nervous about it because of the strict levels of acid that need to be in a jar for canning -- if I find a recipe that looks good to me, and is canning tested, I will definitely can salsa, because oh man, the dry farmed tomatoes are so good, I'm going to miss them for salsa in the winter!

        2. re: piedsdesanges

          A great thing to do with too many tomatoes other than canning them is to make fresh tomato paste -- simply skin and seed the tomatoes, then cook the pulp at a simmer until concentrated. Freeze the paste in ice cube trays, then store the cubes them in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. The intense flavor of the ripe tomatoes is preserved, and it's so convenient to simply pop a tomato "ice cube" into soups, sauces or wherever you want a blast of tomato flavor.

          1. re: DanaB

            That is an awesome idea. I was also thinking of doing a pear butter this weekend if the pears are starting to look good. Unfortunately the raccoons ate all of our pears but I'll see what's what at the Santa Cruz farmer's market this weekend.

            1. re: piedsdesanges

              Do make the Pear Butter! You will not regret it! I made some last year and it came out so good! Also, I do the same thing with tomatoes as Dana. But I just chop the tomatoes and throw them into the pot with some olive oil, garlic, salt (be careful since it condenses so much, and it can come out over-salted) and pepper. I cook it for about 3 hours and then freeze in baggies. I know I should peel them, but I have been lazy.
              Also, I am participating in a church boutique in November and selling my jams, so last night I made 2 batches of Hot Pepper Jam and one batch of Peach Rosemary (which came out fantastic). I have also made some brandied figs, fresh fig jam and fig syrup just needs to be jarred. I will be making more of the Peach Rosemary.
              I have some Meyer Lemon Marmalade already done. I know I have more, but cannot remember at this moment. However, I will be a jam-making fool until the boutique!! ;-)

              1. re: piedsdesanges

                I love doing fruit butters. Peach, apple and pear butters work particularly well. Plum rings in the changes too, but needs more sugar. I think I want to experiment with cherries, too.

        3. Olive season hits in 14 days! Then I'll be picking, curing and canning loads and loads of Queen Sevillanos...

          In the meantime, we're drying tons of herbs and canning prickly pear chutneys and jellies. But everything else stops when the olives come off the trees...

          3 Replies
          1. re: tsfirefly

            Really? Are you in California? Where do you get your olives? And how do you pickle and cure them?

            Also, care to share your recipe for prickly pear chutney?

            1. re: piedsdesanges

              some of the smaller growers near Visalia will sell fresh olives. check the calif olive growers council for leads or

            2. re: tsfirefly

              Hurray for Olive Season! We're doing our second crop this year...last year we only had about 2 gallons, and we ate them fast! This year, I want to preserve them longer, and everything I've read says to pressure can for 60 minutes, due to low acid of olives. Have you done this? Results? Or can you share a better method for preserving? Thanks!

            3. We canned this summer for the very first time! We were so nervous, but it's very easy really. We went blueberry picking in July and made about 8 pints of blueberry jam. We canned bread and butter pickles and just finished a big batch of tomato chutney from our garden tomatoes. Next up is fig jam since a friend has a giant fig tree and he hates figs (go figure), and then we're thinking of going pear or apple picking this weekend and making some butter. It's been so fun! We are quite hooked.
              We slow-roasted a ton of our romas as well, but I'm not sure what to do with them. I'm thinking of just freezing them, but worry about how they'll hold up in the thaw. Any thoughts?

              Great topic and I got a lot of advice on your original post. Thanks!

              3 Replies
              1. re: ScarletB

                Scarlet B - I have slow roasted the romas with a bit of olive oil and salt, and then frozen them...they are wonderful! I usually add to stews, sauces, roasts, for extra flavor. I layered them between plastic wrap so I could easily take out a few at a time.

                1. re: kmr

                  Great tip, thanks kmr! I think I'm going to make a pizza with them tonight with eggplant from the garden as well. We'll see if I wind up with enough to freeze.

                  1. re: ScarletB

                    I made a pizza with slow roasted tomatoes last night! With some mozzerella and basil, it was just a wonderful dinner!

              2. We make and freeze tomato sauce (just tomatoes--nothing added) every year. Also oven dry tomatoes--no olive oil or salt, just halve the tomatoes and squeeze out the guts then bake them in a low oven until partly dry, then freeze and bag. We use these on pizza, in soup, in pasta sauce, etc. all year long. We also did some roasted salsa (tomatoes, serranos, onion roasted until slightly blackened, then blended) to freeze this year. We'll add garlic, lime juice and cilantro before using.

                In the jam department we've done strawberry, strawberry/rose geranium, cherry, and plum. We have about 25# of blackberries in the freezer waiting to be jammed.

                1. I never buy produce to can, I just can when my trees are screaming at me. Last night we canned applesauce from our golden delicious tree. Last month we canned prune plum conserve with walnuts and oranges (prune plums are boring on their own.) It's actually my husband that's the canner, he saus it's a Wisconsin thing.

                  1. We haven't canned a lot (yet) this year, for some reason. We did do our blueberry vanilla bean syrup, which is great and people have loved getting as gifts (we have it on ice cream or waffles but my brother in law uses it to grill salmon). I think it's a Sheila Lukins recipe. We also did dill pickles, and I have a bunch of fruit in the freezer for later recipes or canning. We'll definitely do another batch of the blueberry syrup one of these days (gotta love blueberries, as they are absolutely no work to prep to freeze). I've been dehydrating grapes for raisins, which has been only semi-successful-take too damn long (I think I need to cut them in half next time). I've also made fruit leather using some unsweetened applesauce we canned a few years back-we canned it in quart jars and can't seem to use it up before it goes bad once we open them. I've mixed leftover canned apricots with applesauce for one batch of leather, and grapes and a frozen ripe banana with applesauce for the other.

                    We are very fortunate to live in Oregon and have an absolute abundance of free or cheap produce available this time of year. We u-pick during the summer for blueberries and strawberries. We are growing tomatoes this year and have a crazy abundance-I may oven roast some as we are not wild about sundried tomatoes. I also might just throw 'em whole in the freezer. My father in law gave us a box of Asian pears (don't know much to do with them other than eat them raw or mandoline-slice them and dry them). My grandma gave us a box of filberts, apples, and grapes....I guess something has to make up for our long, grey winters here.

                    And man, I love the feeling of a stocked up freezer and pantry, with lines of canned foods. You think I'd lived through the Depression.....

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: girlwonder88

                      a Note for JasmineG: have you ever made kiwi jam> It tastes just like strawberry
                      that you can`t tell the difference. Its green with black dots in it but tastes just like

                      1. re: bigjimbray

                        I haven't, but that sounds really interesting! I think that I might make strawberry jam this weekend (anyone got a great recipe?). I made a few tiny jars of golden raspberry jam tonight, and it was great (and such a pretty color!) but I have to say that I think that I need a food mill to get out the seeds, because I really do not like all of the raspberry seeds in my teeth.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          Jasmine -- I used the Martha Stewart recipe for strawberry jam; you can see it on my blog.

                          1. re: piedsdesanges

                            Actually, I made strawberry jam today with guidance from these past chowhound threads: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/304615 http://www.chowhound.com/topics/278415 -- I did the method where the strawberries sit in the sugar overnight, then you boil it all together for a minute or two, then let it all sit together for another 6 or so hours, then boil the liquid alone for a while and then add the strawberries. It turned out great, although one post said that the yield would be 5 pints, and I got 2 (2 4 oz jars and 2 12 oz jars). I think that I'm going to make more next weekend, and this time go with the suggestion by one person to add some balsamic vinegar and crushed peppercorns.

                      2. re: girlwonder88

                        Hi girlwonder88 - your blueberry vanilla syrup sounds fantastic. I live in Oregon too and we u-picked the blueberries for our jam. We do have such an abundance of produce here, it's just amazing. I'm glad to have "discovered" canning this year!

                        1. re: girlwonder88

                          Girlwonder, would you be willing to share that blueberry vanilla bean syrup? It sounds absolutely fantastic! Thanks!!

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            Yes, girlwonder I second the request -- it sounds amazing!!!!

                            1. re: piedsdesanges

                              OK...I think I found it. It's a modification of a Sheila Lukins recipe from The U.S.A. Cookbook.
                              1 1/2 lbs blueberries
                              3 c sugar
                              1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
                              3/4 c. water
                              2 TBS fresh lemon juice

                              Combine blueberries (rinsed) and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Toss gently with a rubber spatula. Stick vanilla bean in center. Let stand for an hour (you can start w/frozen berries-just prolong this step).

                              Add water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming foam, until it starts to thicken. It will take 15 minutes or so. It will continue to thicken as it cools so don't cook too long.

                              Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Cool (taste when cool-if too sweet, add a little more lemon juice) and funnel into sterilized bottles. Although she says it will keep up to two months, I've found that it keeps indefinitely, refrigerated.

                              Unlike most canning recipes, you can double this one. Everything will take longer, but it works fine.

                              It's a gorgeous deep blue color-very pretty to give in nice stoppered bottles (the kind with a wire cage and rubber gasket-this is insanely messy stuff, so don't give it in a bottle with a cork). As mentioned previously, it's beautiful on ice cream, delicious on waffles, and my brother-in-law has had great success basting salmon with it when grilling.

                              1. re: girlwonder88

                                THANK YOU Girlwonder!! Cannot wait to try it! ;-)

                        2. One of the things I make every Autumn is a Conserve made with Blue Italian Plums.

                          I use the plums, cut in half, stones removed, thinly sliced lemons, dried Cherries, Brown Sugar, and Amaretto at the end. It keeps forever in the fridge in sealed jars, and makes a great dessert on a Savarin Cake, Ice Cream, or on Yoghurt.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Fleur

                            This sounds like a great combo. Do you have a more specific recipe?

                          2. My peach jam is blogged now but I'm just not sure whether I overcooked it or not. How much do peaches change color when they are turned into jam, does anyone know?

                            1. I haven't actually canned anything yet but I have quite a bit of stuff in the freezer and a big container of concord grape conserve that I don't know how to use it. The recipe looked good but it never occured to me that I didn't know what to serve it with! It had the grapes, sliced lemon, honey, raisins and walnuts in it and is quite runny.

                              I've been making an amazing tomato sauce that never lasts long enough to put up (no matter how big the batch is!). I roast olive-oiled roma tomatoes until they're blackened(the tv show bbq'd them but I don't have one) and puree them-- skin, pan scrapings and all. So good!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mellybean

                                That conserve sounds like it'd be great on vanilla ice cream. or spooned over plain pound cake, or angel food cake, or pancakes/waffles...

                                1. re: mellybean

                                  Oh my gosh, I think you should try serving your concord grape conserve on peanut butter ice cream, just for the idea of it.

                                2. This is my first try at canning. So far, I have made pineapple-habanero jam, raspberry jam, raspberry-mango jam, merlot wine jelly and pinot grigio jelly. I am giving pumpkin and pear butters a whirl this week!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: chelleyd01

                                    Hey chelleyd01, let us know how the pumpkin butter goes. I'm doing apple and pear butters next weekend, but I love the idea of pumpkin butter too.

                                    1. re: ScarletB

                                      I'm canning tomatoes, pesto, kim chee, mincemeat, and green tomato chutney next weekend....

                                      1. re: MIss G

                                        I have little freezer space now that I'm retired in a small apartment but one thing I always find room for is homemade applesauce. I use only McIntosh apples for their flavor, peel and core them, barely cook them, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, and mash them coarsely with a potato masher. Bought applesauce is not even on the same planet with homemade.

                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          Just wondering if you've ever tried using a food mill instead of peeling, coring, mashing? I'm thinking about trying my hand at apple sauce, but the idea of peeling and coring that many apples makes me not want to do it. Yes, lazy and busy. So, I'll probably try it with a food mill, but if you've had any experience with it and can share, please let me know. Thanks!

                                          1. re: ScarletB

                                            Agree, SB...if I had to do all the peeling, coring, etc., I'd probably never make applesauce and that would be a shame since we have several old apple trees on our property.

                                            I wash, cut in quarters (we don't spray, quartering shows if a random critter needs to be cut away) then toss into my crock pot on low, with a half cup of water to get them started.

                                            When they've softened enough, I put all through the food mill and taste for sweetness, etc. Often, I find I don't need to any add sugar or spices. If I want it thicker, I just let it go in the CP on low with the lid off.