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Canning 2013--what's on your to-do list?

it's the beginning of March, so thoughts start turning to the bounty of local produce awaiting me in a couple of months. I start looking at my canning books and start thinking about what I'd like to can this year. Besides the usual sweet and sour hot Hungarian peppers from my garden (peppers are the one thing I can grow grow consistently, as my green thumb must be a pastel shade), I think I'll do some Italian flavored pickled zucchini, roasted red pepper spread, pickled beets, pickled green beans, and peach salsa. If we don't have the same weather issues as last year (very warm March, followed by a very cold April with a few frosts), I'd like to make more peach jams. My peach farmer at my local market lost almost 90% of the crop last year, so I didn't can as much peach stuff. But I'm hoping to do more vanilla-almond-peach jam, peach BBQ sauce, plain peach preserves, and low-sugar ginger-peach jam. I've also got traditional blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry jams/sauces on the list. Perhaps some more strawberry-vanilla jam. Maybe pickled curried cauliflower, tto. I'll double the pickled beets this year, because I really liked them and so did my dad. In fact, I'm planning on sending him a package with the remaining jars in my pantry (along with some jams--I love canning them, but I don't actually eat much jam because of the sugar).

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  1. I just cracked my last jar of spicy pickled carrots. They are so delicious that I'm not sure I could ever make enough, but I will at least double those this year. Most of my carrot crop was so gigantic by the time I harvested them that they weren't really suitable. I need to try another variety of carrot in the garden that grows longer and skinnier and plan to harvest them sooner. On the bright side, I have been cooking and eating from my stored crop all fall and winter and STILL have some left. They taste better than ever, and will make an outstanding carrot soup as a goodbye to winter meal.

    I have made Italian zucchini pickle, both spears and relish, for two years now. It's good, but not a favorite. The texture is not as alluring as the harder root veg pickles. I'll only make this if I have too much zucchini. As if that's a question!

    Spicy pickled green beans are another favorite. Between my own garden and our CSA share, I make as many jars as I have beans.
    I could never have enough cornichon. They are another super favorite, but yikes-- a supply of those tiny cukes at a fast enough rate to pickle even a jar a day is a surprisingly complex garden undertaking.

    Peach-rosemary jam--I am down to my last couple of jars, and it's another one I just can't make enough of.

    I did two jars of watermelon rind that we have not tried yet. I need to make a point of getting into that soon.

    For new items, I'd like to make a few batches of chutneys, beets, Maraschino/cocktail cherries.

    Two winters ago I did blood orange and meyer lemon-thyme marmalades, which I did not manage to get to this yet this year. Too bad.

    1. I have been giving away everything I have in stock, getting ready for the new season. Over the winter, I finally made a chestnut rum vanilla jam that I got here in like 2005, I subbed passionfruit juice for plain water so can't say if it's right. Edible but not what you think when you think jam. But I called it Passionate Chestnut Jam and gave it away around Valentines; might cross it off my list for the future though.

      Last year I made an Amaretto Peach jam with fruit from the local peach farm and it was just perfect. Also a blueberrry rhubarb jam that I added some blackberry brandy. Both fantastic successes and will be done again. Strawberry jam is so good with no embellishments, I really have to make more than a quart this year.

      I also did dilly beans but used thyme or something instead of dill, since I had a bunch of whatever it was in the garden, it just wasn't the same.

      I always do chutneys and mostardos with figs or quince too, later in the season. Haven't hit the sweet spot on those. But I found a recipe online for Persian quince jam that just might be my favorite of all, the taste is perfect and the pink color just takes it over the top.

      9 Replies
      1. re: coll

        I was the one that posted that recipe. If you really used passionfruit juice, then I can promise you it wasn't right. With all due respect, that's just plain demented.

        1. re: GG Mora

          Yeah, passionfruit and chestnut aren't what I'd call a natural pairing...

          1. re: piccola

            I have been a little demented lately, now that you mention it. I used passionfruit in my quince jam and it is heavenly; had some in the fridge so tossed it in. I am a mad scientist in the kitchen, sometimes it works and sometimes it blows up in my face.

            1. re: coll

              "mad scientist in the kitchen"--what fun! Much more rewarding than always following recipes slavishly. Brings to mind a headline I saw in the NYTimes months ago (about education, not cooking or dining)--" what if failure is the key to success?". I truly do think that kitchen "failures" are necessary to spur our culinary creativity and innovation.

              BTW, that's how I created my vanilla almond peach jam!

              1. re: nofunlatte

                Vanilla. Almond. Peach.

                That sounds devine. Will you share your recipe? Pardon me if you already have. I'm reading on my phone and making dinner.

                1. re: ItalianNana

                  It's just the peach jam recipe from the Ball book (with pectin). I'd added some almond extract right before placing in jars and, when I tasted it, found it to be overly almondy. So, I added some vanilla extract to balance the flavors and loved the result. I dont have exact measurements, so I just taste for flavor before water bathing the jars. I think it's important for the peaches to be ripe for best flavor.

                  FYI, I used homemade vanilla-brandy extract. Three beans, sliced and scraped for seeds, covered with some not-your-best brandy, steeped for a few months. And I'd post the recipe, but my chair is borrowing the book!

              2. re: coll

                Some time you should try the Chestnut Jam recipe exactly as written. It's delicious.

                1. re: GG Mora

                  I might just do that. Now that you can buy chestnut peeled it's not as scary as far as effort. I had some jarred from France, but also used the cheapies. Do you think that's important? And should I have roasted them I wonder. Or did I?

                2. re: coll

                  Hey, more power to you -- sometimes that's how the best discoveries come about. I'm just too lazy to experiment with canning. For that amount of effort, I want something tested and true!

          2. I'm still a very new canner, having done my first batch this past July in the 100-degree wave that included the big derecho storm. That was water bath canning of peach butter and peach jam, followed by a few more pickles later in the season. Among the satisfactions was the realization that I needed no new equipment: the 8-qt stock pot and pasta insert worked perfectly for my small scale.

            But what I really want to do is put up tomatoes, to cut way down on the number of cans of Muir Glen I have to buy in 2013-14. I got an excellent deal on a 10-qt pressure canner that will do four wide-mouth pint jars at a go -- productive without being overwhelming, and a quantity I should be able to get from my own garden several times during the season.

            I'd be more interested in canning pickled green beans and carrots if I hadn't done outstanding lacto-fermented batches this season (another first).

            1. Next week re-covering the 43'x12' greenhouse with new clear UV resistant 4-year plastic. In recent months set up a separate canning kitchen in my barn (stove and workspace). Tilled most of garden open ground this winter three times so far for early weed control and to mix in: lime, bath salts, fertilizer, and good compost. Dirt will be ready for warm weather crops when no chance of freeze about early May here - many plants already started inside to be ready for outside. Have already planted part of garden with cool-weather crops including dill, onions, chives, garlic, and beets. In addition to canning I typically try to eat fresh spinach, dill, and broccoli most of the year (attempt to grow them year round with many 'crops' of each to always have some in different stages depending on weather). My neighbor's spinach and dill re-seeds itself and we save seed from both for additional crops on our timeline (those older and wiser are an inspiration showing what is possible).

              Pickles are the priority here. We love garlic-dill-hot pickled cucumbers, green beans, beets, and carrots. I add a grind 11 kinds of chili peppers some smoked dry.

              Canning related on my to-do list in 2013 are:

              1) Asparagus. Will plant and attempt to get it growing this year for harvest in future years. To eat and pickle down the road as plants mature in a dedicated space. Will probably cover the area with extra plastic. Asparagus is a favorite food. Often combine with chicken.

              2) Salsa, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and sun dried tomatoes. Have a few hundred plants already started inside mostly paste (Roma), slicing, and lots of cherry (yellow pear with red in various sizes, shapes, and kinds). Plan to pressure can because in a good year can never eat all in Fall.

              3) Sour kraut. If cabbage does well. Need kraut supply for Rubens, brats, sausage, and the occasional hot dog (feel weird to desire cheap mystery meat, but sometimes crave sliced bite size, browned, doctored, then covered in homemade chili). Also plan to make some kimchi.

              4) Concord grape jelly. Hope to get to the grapes this year before the birds do. They always are tasty and have a steamer that separates the juice from seeds and skins.

              5) Plum jam if enough on the trees for it. Some years are better than others especially for plums and Italian prunes. Production depends on how spring goes and especially if there is a late freeze or not when in bloom (also true for apples and apricots).

              6) Apricot jam. Last year a bumper crop went to the birds.

              7) Apple sauce. In good years for my Granny Smith and Gravenstein trees. Maybe some sort of apple jam or butter.

              8) Tuna. If can get a good deal, will drive to coast to buy fresh off the boat. Some years are better than others. Basic in-water is very tasty. Want to attempt cold-smoked canned tuna for variety to see if like it better or not.

              Will can what able to grow (or find cheap) to eat all year. Every year in the garden and canning area is a learning experience experiment.

              4 Replies
              1. re: smaki

                That is so impressive Smaki! I'm in awe!

                I haven't canned (yet) but am lurking on this thread as I want to. My mother canned and it was a big staple. So I'll continue to lurk until I get the cajones to try.

                1. re: JerryMe

                  Let's can togehter. What end results do you want?

                2. Always pickled beets and some tomato chow chow.

                  1. What recipe/ book did you use for the beets? I would love to do more veggies this year and that's high on my list. Thanks

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: geminigirl

                      GG, I used the recipe in Robin Mather's The Feast Nearby (it's a memoir with recipes). I did find it necessary to make extra liquid (about1.5 X the amount called for). When I'm back at my home computer, I'll get the recipevand post it.

                      1. re: geminigirl

                        Beets are really easy to do as long as you have some gloves to keep your hands from getting red. Boil them until soft put them aside to cool, peel the skin and slice.(Do not cut the end off the beet as they will cause the beet to bleed so to speak) From there add a vinegar, sugar mixture. I use a book that I got from a farming community that publishes a community cookbook once a year. If you like canning, church cookbooks, and the like have many references to canning. I will post a recipe for you when I at home.

                          1. re: smaki

                            Eh. Red hands is the mark of glory :)

                            1. re: splatgirl

                              Thanks for the tips, and no fun, just put that book on hold at the library! Thanks

                              1. re: geminigirl

                                GG--here's the recipe. you'll need:
                                3 lbs. beets
                                3 Tbsp pickling spices (can make your own--I did)
                                1 Tbsp black peppercorns
                                10 whole cloves
                                2.5 cups white vinegar
                                1 cup water
                                1 cup sugar
                                3 cups sliced onions (sliced mine b/t 1/8 and 1/4")

                                Prep your beets, either by boiling them (what I did) or the foil-wrapped/oven method (Mather's suggestion)

                                Prepare your jars, lids, and canning pot.

                                Remove skin from beets when cool enough to handle (and as noted by other posters--WEAR GLOVES!) and slice (if large) or quarter them (if very small, you can even leave them whole). Put your pickling spice, cloves, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth and tie up the cheesecloth. Place in a large saucepan and then add the water, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to boil using medium-high heat. Stir, because you want the sugar to dissolve completely. Drop the heat to medium-low and boil gently for about 15 minutes. Remove cheesecloth bag from the mixture. Add your beets and onions to the saucepan and boil in the liquid (just bring it to a boil). Remove from heat.

                                Put the beets and onions into prepared jars and add liquid to 1/2" headspace. Seal jars and place into water bath. Process the beets for 30 minutes, turn off heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars from heat and leave on counter for 24 hrs. Test seals and store.

                                According to Mather, the recipe makes about 6 pints,

                                I have made this a couple of times (never canned beets until last year), but I did 2/3 of the recipe, not the full amount. With 2/3, I got 3.5 pints, but that is probably a function of my slicing, quartering, and packing method! I did make the full amount of liquid the second time and used nearly all of it. So, if you make the full recipe, prepare extra liquid.

                                I just had some pickled beets and cottage cheese for breakfast yesterday!

                                BTW, I hope you enjoy the book. In the span of a single week, she loses both her job and her husband (she was laid off from the Chicago Tribune and then her husband asked for a divorce). The memoir is not focused on her loss, but rather her new life in rural Michigan. I wound up buying a second copy to gift to a friend.

                                ETA--the last time I made this, I used 2.25 lbs. of trimmed beets and about 2 cups of sliced onions. The onions are just as tasty as the beets!

                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                  Wow, thank you so much for such a detailed post, bring on the beets!

                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                    As well you don`t have to wait until summer to pickle beets. You can often find some good size ones and make a small batch of them. I do that between seasons, as I do run out of my home canned ones.

                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                      Hi, just wanted to check back and say I am really enjoying the book! Just finished the lamb chapter, and now on to summer. I will definitely purchase this book, lots of good tips and recipes so far, thanks. I also just re - read (actually listened to) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.....another great one and has taught me many things, and great insights, even on re-read.

                                      1. re: geminigirl

                                        Glad you like it! I wound up getting a copy for a friend (because I knew she'd like it too!)

                                        After reading it, a friend lent me Animal Vegetable Mineral. That was one fun (and informative) read!

                                  2. re: splatgirl

                                    Even better jars and jars of those glorious beets!

                            2. Thanks for starting this, I have to bring out the books and start my list. I'm already thinking of the sour cherries and hoping that I am home the weekend they come in! Last year I made the mistake of thinking I had enough applesauce left from the previous year, so this year I will watch my stock closely, but that's definitely on the list, and so easy!

                              This years would like to branch out and do more veggies. I have done dilly beans which I love, as well as canned tomatoes last year for the first time, so easy and such a nice product to have on hand! Also did roasted pepper spread, but still have lots left, that's my problem, my canning eyes are bigger than our bellies so to speak:)

                              1. My 2013 Canning To-Do List:

                                1. Learn to can.

                                6 Replies
                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      Every summer I scramble to find people to take all of the surplus veggies I grow (I never think everything is going to survive so I overplant and then it all lives and produces like mad.... but I can't take the chance and not plant enough!)

                                      Every winter I wish I had learned to can the previous summer.

                                    2. re: weezieduzzit

                                      It really is pretty easy. My advice: start off with small batches. I did 5 half pints of jam in an 8-quart stockpot with a pasta insert as the 'rack'.

                                      The key is organizing all the equipment needed before you start making the food. What I found very, very helpful in that regard was rehearsing the process ahead of time, without the actual boiling water and food, just to make sure I had room and tools to do what was needed and that I knew what I'd be doing next.

                                      Print out some instructions from Food in Jars and/or the UGA home food preserving site and do a dry run this month, before you forget you wanted to learn to can!

                                      1. re: ellabee

                                        I'm really hoping I can find a Saturday class before its time to harvest the majority of the veggies. I love your suggestion of a dry run- sounds like it'll put my mind at ease.

                                      2. re: weezieduzzit

                                        Me too! I even have the pot and gizmos, so I'm determined this year. I did peach freezer jam this past year, but that's not exactly the same thing. First thing I'm going to do is my aunt's old recipe for mustard pickles. They remain in my memory from childhood as the best pickles ever, so there I go!

                                        And proper peach jam, because peaches are my only weakness....

                                      3. The Florida strawberries are in now, and we had just finished up our last jar of strawberry jam, so a week or two ago I put up 5 pints of jam. I'll do several more batches of those when the local strawberries come in.
                                        From our garden, we will can tomatoes, sweet relish and dill pickles, banana peppers, sweet and hot green tomatoes, dilly beans and salsa.
                                        From friends and others, we will get pears, peaches and figs for jam and preserves. I'll also can some pear chunks.
                                        And when the sweet cherries are in, I'll make a few jars of Maraschino-ish cherries in almond syrup. They're delicious on frozen yogurt.

                                        1. As soon as I can get to the drug store to get oil of cloves and oil of cinnamon, I will be putting up watermelon rind. So easy to make and so obscenely expensive in the store.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            Thanks for the reminder. I tend to can the same things my parents did...apricot almond marmalade, green tomato pickle, chili sauce, apple rain chutney...I had forgotten they also did watermelon rind. I just wish gooseberries were available in Texas. Mother's spiced gooseberries were my favorite thing she canned.

                                          2. I just got into canning this fall so there's a TON on my list.

                                            Jams/ Preserves - peach, pluot, apricot, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, along with what I made this fall pear vanilla, fig, orange marmalade, onion jam and pear cranberry, apple butter.

                                            Pickles - bread and butter sliced pickles, kimchee, along what I made this year pickled carrots, Sichuan cabbage, and pickled onions.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Dcfoodblog

                                              Could post the recipe for Sichuan Cabbage? Do you process it or just leave it in the fridge?

                                            2. I just opened my fridge and there it was a cranberry spice sauce. I made some at Christmas and it was good so I will definitely make some more.

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                  Here's the recipe got it from Woman's Day Xmas 2012:
                                                  Bring 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil
                                                  Add 4 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
                                                  2 Teasppons of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest. Boil till skin burst about 7 minutes. Simmer for an hour. Cool put in jars. I did not seal mine it keeps quite well in the fridge but if I make more will put in a hot water bath.

                                              1. I just made pickled beets after getting a huge amount in my CSA box, so I won't need any more of those. But I want to put up more vegetables -- maybe asparagus or okra. Definitely cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. I want to make salsa again, too. And looking ahead, does anyone have any good recommendations for corn?

                                                Not much of a jam person, so I tend to leave fruit preserves alone.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: piccola

                                                  I've got a good corn relish recipe. So good, you just want to stand there and eat the whole jarful yourself. I'll post it when I can find it.

                                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                    Every year I say I'm going to make corn relish, and then another year goes by....maybe this will be the year. Would love your recipie, thanks

                                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                        Here's the recipe as my friend gave it to me. It's really not much trouble to make, and is worth every minute of the time it takes.

                                                        Corn Relish

                                                        16 to 20 ears fresh corn
                                                        4 cups chopped celery
                                                        2 cups chopped sweet red pepper
                                                        2 cups chopped green pepper
                                                        1 cup chopped onion
                                                        2 cups sugar
                                                        2 cups vinegar
                                                        2 tsp celery seed
                                                        1/4 cup AP flour
                                                        2 Tbs dry mustard
                                                        1 tsp turmeric

                                                        Husk and silk corn. Cook in boiling water 5 minutes; plunge into cold water. Drain. Cut corn from cobs: do not scrape cobs. Measure 8 cups cut corn.
                                                        In 8 to 10 quart kettle or Dutch oven combine celery, red and green pepper and onion. Add sugar, vinegar, celery seed, 2 cups water and 2 tbs salt. Bring mixture to boiling. Boil, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                                                        Blend flour, dry mustard and turmeric with 1/2 cup cold water. Add along with corn to boiling mixture. Return to boiling: cook and stir 5 minutes.
                                                        Pack loosely into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Adjust lids. Process pints in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Makes 7 pints.

                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                          Looks delicious, thanks! And it makes enough that I could give away a few jars.

                                                      2. re: piccola

                                                        Brussels sprouts sounds interesting. I did make curried pickled cauliflower the other year and quote liked them--it was a sweet/sour treatment.

                                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                                          I bookmarked this recipe but haven't yet made it: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                          I've been thinking of adding hot pepper flakes to make them a little spicy.

                                                          1. re: piccola

                                                            Thanks for the link--I'll have to bookmark it myself!

                                                      3. Definitely balsamic strawberry jam

                                                        I'm working now so I won't have time to do my traditional 180lbs of tomatoes but I'd like to at least make salsa

                                                        This years to-do list is wimpy :-/

                                                        1. Thank you for starting this thread! I'm still fine tuning my goals for canning but so far it's looking okay with,

                                                          -lavender jelly
                                                          -mint jelly
                                                          -ginger jelly
                                                          -hot pepper jelly

                                                          -bacon/onion jam
                                                          -strawberry apple jam
                                                          -green tomato jam

                                                          -roasted chickpea spread
                                                          -roasted garlic spread
                                                          -marinated whole garlic cloves
                                                          -marinated root vegetables
                                                          -marinated zuckes

                                                          -quick pickles, sour
                                                          -spicy cukes
                                                          -pickled beets

                                                          -tomato paste

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: HillJ



                                                            I would love to do:

                                                            Hot pepper jelly
                                                            Roasted chickpea spread

                                                            Can you share your tested recipes?

                                                            1. re: ItalianNana

                                                              Sure Ital! These three I've been jarring the last two years. Whatever I don't grow in the yard, I buy at the market. The pepper jelly is this great green color that I love. The chickpea spread begins as a roasted pea and then gets a mash and the ketchup is just my current favorite. Enjoy! And, happy canning.

                                                              I've been using this one for the hot pepper for some time.

                                                              On the chickpea I roast them pretty much how MS is outlining them here, then I whirl them in the food processor to a nice spread consistency and jar the spread.
                                                              Last year I gave this recipe by BF a go and really liked it so I'm making it again:

                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                              I'd like your recipe for green tomato jam!

                                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                nofunl, I like fried green tomato sandwiches in late summer (NJ) but I always wind up with a 2nd batch that lends itself better to a marmalade. However, the flavor in jam gets a bit lost and needs a boost. This recipe adds citrus and ginger which really zips the spread nicely. The recipe below is what I'll be jarring this year:


                                                            3. First thing's first: Seville orange marmalade.

                                                              Next: Get Sandor Katz's book and learn the process of fermentation. I've made a lot of jam, marmalade and chutney over the years, but I'm a fermentation n00b.

                                                              After I've done the reading, I'll be experimenting. Saurkraut is on the list for sure, as well as kimchi. This should be an interesting year.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jammy

                                                                Sauerkraut ( fermented, not canned) is on my "learn to do it" list!

                                                              2. Pretty basic here.....

                                                                Tomato Juice....
                                                                B&B Pickles......
                                                                Kentucky Wonder Beans....
                                                                Chili Sauce......
                                                                Fig Preserves....
                                                                Pear Preserves......
                                                                Blackberry Jelly....
                                                                LA. Strawberry Preserves....

                                                                1. I've been completely inspired by: Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant.

                                                                  Definitely on the list list this year:

                                                                  Pickled Smoked Spring Onions

                                                                  (or baby leeks as I let a leek go to seed and now have a couple hundred leeks shooting up in the garden)

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: tearingmonkey

                                                                      Not canning, but I made the spiced pumpkin butter (using kabocha squash) and the pumpkin (squash!) butter ice cream from this book. Interested in the blueberry aigre-doux as well.
                                                                      The ice cream was amazing.

                                                                      1. re: tearingmonkey

                                                                        :: a couple hundred leeks shooting up in the garden ::

                                                                        What a lovely "problem"!

                                                                        1. re: ellabee

                                                                          Oops.. how could I have missed this thread?

                                                                          1. re: rstuart

                                                                            I suggest we move our canning and preserving discussions to the thread that rstuart started--I'm looking forward to reading that thread as the season progresses (summer in the N. Hemisphere!)