Archive for Canning

Back to Basics: Canning Apple Butter

I have taken a relatively long break from canning in my life. The last canning adventure I had was during the summer, when I made blueberry, strawberry and peach jams. I really enjoyed the experience, and the jams taste delicious, but it was a lot of work! 

Now that fall is here, and the farmer’s market is filled with various apples, squash, and pumpkins, I was inspired to can some fall produce. I decided to try apple butter, filled with chunks of pink lady apples, cinnamon, and cloves! The recipe turned out great- not only am I keeping a few jars to enjoy myself, but I have decided to save the remainder for some unique holiday gifts!

Only 4 simple ingredients required to make apple butter!

Apple Butter

Recipe From: Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

Yield: about 3 pints (6 half pints)


4 pounds apples (about 16 medium)- I used Pink Lady apples from the State Farmer’s Market

4 cups sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves


*Be sure to wash and sterilize your cans and lids in the dishwasher prior to spooning your apple butter into them!

1. Wash apples.

2. Core, peel and quarter apples.


3. Combine apples and 2 cups water in a large saucepot. Simmer until apples are soft.

4. Puree using a food processor or food mill, being careful not to liquefy. Measure 2 quarts apple pulp.

5. Combine apple pulp, sugar, and spices in a large saucepot. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.


6. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving ¼” headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust 2-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.


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So You Want to Can Salsa?

Last Wednesday, my canning adventures in the kitchen began by attending my first NC State Cooperative Extension class. My advisor, Jessica Oswald, was the instructor for the class, “So You Want to Can Salsa?” I have been anxiously waiting all summer for the chance to learn how to can, so I was super thrilled to attend this class in Alamance County.

Jessica did a wonderful job of explaining how to use a water bath canner and how to use precise measurements when chopping your ingredients and filling your mason jars. If there is one thing that I learned from this class, it was discovering how scientific the canning process actually is! It is very important to use only tested recipes when canning, and to make sure you are using the correct ratio of ingredients. It is also important to pay attention to the headspace you leave inside the jars, as well as the processing time in the canner. If any of the procedures are done incorrectly, your food can potentially become spoiled, which is a food safety concern.

In this 4 hour class, we learned how to make a spicy tomato salsa and a zesty salsa. I do not typically enjoy spicy foods, but the spicy tomato salsa (with chili peppers and jalapeno peppers) was my favorite! Check out the standardized salsa recipes taken from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, as well as all of the pictures that I took along the way!

Spicy Tomato Salsa

Yield: 6 pints

6 lbs. tomatoes

9 dried hot chili peppers

3 cups diced red onion

1.5 chopped cilantro, tightly packed

15 cloves garlic, minced

6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

1 Tbsp. salt

¾ tsp. dried red chili flakes

¾ cup red wine vinegar

Wash tomatoes; drain. Peel, seed and dice tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces. Remove seeds from dried chili peppers; place chili peppers in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over chili peppers just to cover. Secure plastic wrap over bowl and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Drain half the water. Puree chili peppers and remaining water in a food processor for 1 minute until smooth. Combine all ingredeitns in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. Ladle hot salsa into jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

De-seeding the jalapeno peppers...they are so hot I have to wear gloves!

Blanching the tomatoes helps the skin to peel off easierAll of the ingredients needed for the spicy it's time to cook!Spicy salsa boiling in the potPacking the hot salsa into the hot jars...leave room for headspace!

Processing the jars in the hot water bath canner The finished product!Zesty SalsaYield: About 6 pints10 cups chopped, seeded, peeled, cored tomatoes (6 lbs)5 cups chopped and seeded long green peppers (2 lbs)5 cups chopped onions (1.5 lbs)2 ½ cups chopped and seeded hot peppers (1 lb)3 cloves garlic, minced2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced3 tsp. salt1 ¼ cups cider vinegar1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (opt.)Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot, adding hot pepper sauce, if desired. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner.Chopping, dicing, peeling, and coring tomatoesZesty salsa...yum!Zesty vs. spicy...which do you prefer?

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Canning Adventures…Continued

On June 6th, I had the pleasure of attending the “From the Garden to the Pantry” class with Jessica Oswald. This class was held at the Caswell County Agricultural Building from 10am-2pm, and reviewed the basics of gardening and canning.

Canning requires some extensive equipment, and the cheapest place to purchase the equipment made by Ball is at Wal-Mart. I would estimate that purchasing all of the necessary canning equipment would probably cost $50-$75, but think of all of the money that you save while preserving your seasonal produce for years to come! The following pictures show some of the equipment needed to can properly:

Utensil Kit for Canning, made by Ball Brand


Pressure Canning Equipment


Canning Jars and Pressure Canning Gauges


Various canning ingredients and utensils! (The basic water bath canner is located in the top right of this picture)

Here are some of the subjects and techniques that were discussed during this canning overview class:

~Good Agricultural Practices (aka Gardening 101)

~Canning Basics

~Pressure canning (this is different than a water bath canner, and is used commonly for preserving green beans)

~Preparing and Packing Foods

~Boiling water bath canning (this method is commonly used for acidic foods such as fruits, jams, and jellies)

~Jams and Jellies



~Flavored oils and vinegars

~Drying herbs

Check out your local NC Cooperative Extension events and services for more canning information in your county!

…stay tuned for more canning adventures next month!

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Canning Adventures!

As a component of my graduate practicum project, I have decided to learn a very old-fashioned, yet sustainable way of preparing food- canning! This is a very intriguing practice to me, as I have never canned before in my life…but it’s never too late to learn something new, right? Especially when it pertains to your profession!

Canning has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and is a great way to preserve your seasonal fruits and vegetables. The biggest concern when it comes to this practice is making sure that you are canning properly and using safe methods. It also consumes a lot of time and requires some equipment, so make sure that you have the appropriate equipment, space, and a lot of free time on your hands to can successfully!

In order to learn the tricks of the trade, I asked my friend and classmate Jessica Oswald to help me out with my practicum project. Jessica is a Registered Dietitian and is an NC Cooperative Extension Agent for Orange and Alamance Counties in NC. She has just recently started teaching a canning and gardening class called, “From the Garden to the Pantry,” where she teaches the community how to can safely and effectively.  She has been nice enough to take me under her wing and teach me the basics of canning. I am also in the process of observing and assisting her with the summer canning classes, which I am super excited about!

If you are new to canning (like I am), there are three resources that I suggest you use before experimenting. Although it is temptin to jump right in, if canning is not completed safely, it could cause food bourne illess.

1. Make sure that you are using standardized recipes as found in the “Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.” These recipes are tested for safety and quality, and are tasty too!

2. If you have any questions, please contact your county’s Extension Agent. They really know their stuff!

3. For additional information, visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation a the University of Georgia:

For my first canning adventure, Jessica and I decided to try a batch of strawberry jam. Although it involved a lot of work and precision, it was really fun, and the jam turned out delicious! Here is the recipe we used, taken from the “Ball Blue Book.”

Strawberry Jam

Yield: 8 half-pints

2 quarts fresh strawberries

1 package powdered pectin

1/4 cup lemon juice

7 cups sugar (yikes!)

Wash strawberries and drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer a time.

Combine strawberries, pectin, and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim foam if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps.


*Don’t mind the writing on my arms, I was swimming in a triathlon the following day 🙂

Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

I strongly encourage everyone out there to try canning at least once in your life…it is really rewarding to see the fruits of your labor!

Have you ever canned before? If so, what do you enjoy about canning, and what are the best foods to can? Help the newbie canner out!

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