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Canning for Gifts?

Hello all,

I am considering giving out some homemade canned goods as Christmas gifts. Tyler Florence's homemade bread and butter pickles caught my eye, but I would love any other ideas or suggestions.

Many thanks!

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  1. I'd recommend apple butter, which is really easy and can be made in big batches, plus everyone loves it.

    Last year, we also did homemade cocoa mix with little bags of homemade marshmallows - not canning, but it worked really well. I like anything that can be made in bulk and requires little hands-on time, since we're always so busy at this time of year.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RosemaryHoney

      I was also going to suggest apple butter; I make a crockpot version with lots of ginger that I learned from this board.

      I've posted my blueberry vanilla bean syrup recipe here before; people really seem to like it and it's a nice change from jars of jam.

      Spicy dilly beans are great. Pair them with a bottle of wasabi vodka and you have starters for a killer bloody mary :)

    2. I've been thinking about homemade cranberry sauce, and maybe marmalade if I get motivated enough for all the peeling and chopping.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mpjmph

        I was just thinking cranberry sauce - no peeling and chopping either!

        1. re: geminigirl

          No chopping, no pectin needed, ridiculously easy to make... Plus it will look really pretty with a simple red/gold bow.

      2. last year I got a basket with homemade canned salsa, hot pepper relish and grape jelly. Delicious!

        Pumpkin butter is easy
        Cooking Light's latest issue had a few recipes for spice mixes like Herbs de Provence

        1. I frooze my blueberries this summer so will be making some preserve this weekend. Also canned jars of sliced peaches this summer. Lastly gonna make some applesauce and those 3 will be the gifts.

          I laso made concord grape jam but it came out soo good that I can't bear to give it away...

          1. A nice 'cheat' is a 7 (or 5 or 8 or 11) bean soup where you layer contrasting dried beans and maybe peas in a jar. Put together a soup base packet and tie to lid and voila, 7 bean soup in a jar (helps to include instructions for your non-cooking friends).
            I see Girlwonder mentioned wasabi vodka. My favorite is homemade spiced rum; put some raisins, halved dried figs and apricots in a jar, top with an inexpensive rum, close up. After a week or two, you've got a very nice spiced rum. Make up a label "Newfoodie's Holiday Spiced Rum" with palm trees and an 1848 brigand, glue to jar and you're all set.
            Here's one I made for a buddy, Adam (sorry, kinda blurry...musta had too much rum +( ;/)

            1 Reply
            1. How 'bout a good Ginger Honey? there is a recipe in Ann Hodgeman's 'Beat This' or 'Beat That' Cookbook that I made a couple of years ago and it was both easy and well-received.

              1. Can anyone help me? I make the most incredible sausage gravy known and would like to be able to can it. Can anyone tell me if it is safe to do this and how? I haven't canned anything since cucumbers in a 4-H contest about 30 years ago so I'm pretty much a newbie at it.

                8 Replies
                1. re: zoomom45

                  If you're talking meat -- regardless of the acid and salt level -- you MUST use a pressure canner. A pressure canner, mind you, is not a pressure *cooker*. It's an expensive but vital piece of equipment for assuring that you're not incubating the noxious and even deadly pathogens that meat is an excellent nutrient for.

                  If you decide to go that route be sure to get some expert help getting acquainted with the basics.

                  1. re: rainey

                    not to be stupid but where would I go to find the expert advice getting acquainted the basics. This is new territory for me. Thanks to all who replied. Keep the help coming. I'll let you know if and how it turns out.

                    1. re: zoomom45

                      There's nothing stupid about it! It's an art that has been diminishing for a long time. When I was a kid in the 50s the only exposure I had to canning was my great-aunt and great-grandmother who lived in a rural area of Maine.

                      Fortunately, today it's being revived. But finding good reliable practitioners who can advise us outside the areas of high acid/sugar/salt foods requires some real searching. It's entirely outside my experience and comfort zone so, as much as I wish I could, I can't help you. There are books. And there's the internet. And the USDA has some resources. I'd check them all out if you think it's important to can meat products. Or see what options vacuum sealing in bags and keeping frozen provides.

                      1. re: zoomom45

                        It's not a stupid question at all, especially when there are risks of botulism involved. This was my first year of canning and I found the Ball canning website and Ball Blue Book to be my go-to resource. Very informative and they lay out the very basics -- http://www.freshpreserving.com/ . If you can get your hands on the ball blue book, it's under $10 and is invaluable.

                        There are also quite a few threads on this site asking all kinds of canning questions. People here were very very helpful to me with guidance, answers, recipe suggestions, etc.

                    2. re: zoomom45

                      Serious safety concerns aside, I cannot imagine that sausage gravy would can well. I've canned ham and beans, chili, beef-vegetable soup, sloppy joe meat, taco meat, and barbecued pork, but I don't think you could can a meat+dairy concoction without ruining it. The temperature inside a pressure canner is pretty intense, and I would think it would break or curdle the gravy.

                      If there's any chance of canning it, google around for some LDS (Mormon) canning/preserving guides -- their church recommends having a stock of dry goods and shelf-stable foods that could get you through an emergency, and so they tend to have detailed, expert information on safely canning all manner of foods that you wouldn't necessarily think to can.

                      If it were me, I would just freeze it, but you can't really give it as gifts quite as easily! Good luck!

                      1. re: zoomom45

                        I tend to be less cautious (I usually say "less paranoid") about home canning than most, and don't even own a pressure canner, but I agree that you should pressure can meat products. I don't know if your recipe calls for dairy, but even if it does, I can't see why that would make a difference, except that the canning process might caramelize some of the sugar in the dairy, which might be a good thing. The dairy is a small part of the recipe, and the roux or flour should keep it from curdling, just as it does when you make the sauce on a stove top.

                        Rainey might correct me, but as far as I know the only functional difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner is the shape of the pot. Pressure canners are deeper so you can fit a wide variety of jars in them, and they often come with racks that keep the jars off the bottom of the pot and make it easy to remove them. But if you have a pressure cooker you should be able to use it as a pressure canner if the jars fit.

                        1. re: Zeldog

                          You may be right, Zeldog, that the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner is largely related to the depth that permits jars to be loaded in with room for circulating water. There is also a conventional water bath canning pot that has a rack that permits the free motion of boiling water around the jars -- but that's for high acid/sugar/salt products like jams and pickles.

                          I've canned using conventional methods. I've never used a pressure canner. The need for one was enough to put the brakes on for me so I don't offer myself as any kind of expert. Here are examples of each:

                          pressure canner: http://www.canningpantry.com/pressure...
                          pressure cooker: http://www.pressurecooker-outlet.com/...
                          water bath canner: http://www.canningpantry.com/cold-pac...

                          I think Laura Grace's tip about contacting people who are into food storage is a good place to start and her tip about contacting LDS is clever indeed! Some areas may also still have home extension agencies. And I think the USDA still has some resources regarding food safety. A preliminary check yielded this from the Univ of GA: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can5_mea...

                          1. re: rainey

                            You're so right, rainey, government extension agencies are also a great place to get home preservation information! They'd be my first suggestion for ordinary canned goods, but I don't recall ever seeing a recipe for a meat/dairy combo on an extension office website -- not that I've looked at them all, mind you!

                            There are a mind-boggling number of LDS blogs out there (which are often terribly helpful in general, I've found, for folks looking for information on simple living, home preservation, and frugality) and if ANYONE has reliable information on whether or not it's safe/possible to can sausage gravy, they would! :)

                      2. We've been looking at making some special pickles or chutneys or other things for gifts. (Looking especially at the Ad Hoc and Zuni Cafe books which have lots of ideas.) We're not going to can anything but make things that can be refrigerated for a month or so, at least a few weeks. We will give good instructions to all recipients about refrigerating and how long they can keep things. That way we will be able to make some great things but not have to worry about the difficulties and limitations of canning.

                        1. salsa is a great gift and cans very well - I also have an old Watermelon Rind Pickles recipe if anyone is interested but there are plenty on line too.

                          there is a great thread going on homemade food gifts:

                          1. newfoodie - there was a great thread a little while ago called Canning Time! ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/647778 ). You might find some good idea's there. One of my favorites that will make a good gift that I got from that thread was Bruschetta Topping in a Jar from momskitchen. Lots of good ideas. Good luck with whatever you make.