Christmas In A Jar

I have been posting the canned goods I’ve been making to give as gifts this holiday season. This particular recipe is not a gift. It’s too good, I am going to hoard it all for myself. But it would make a wonderful holiday gift, and the taste can only be described as “Christmas in a jar”. It is cranberry conserve, and while it’s best use is spooned over poultry, I am not above stirring it into yogurt, spreading it on toast, or eating it right out of the jar.

Conserve is a fruit preserve that includes nuts and dried fruits as well as fresh. It sounds like an odd mix, but I promise it is oh, so right. In this conserve I used pecans and dried apricots, but walnuts and raisins would be good, too.

This recipe is perfect for canning, and uses the boiling water bath method. It yields approximately 8 1/2 pint jars.

Cranberry Conserve

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, seeds removed and chopped
  • 3 C. water
  • 6 C. fresh cranberries
  • 3 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 C. pecans, chopped

If you are canning this recipe, assemble your canning supplies and begin to heat your lids and jars right when you start the recipe. Everything will be ready at the same time this way.

Step 1: Chop the orange into small pieces, leaving the peel on. In a stainless steel pot, combine the oranges and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Once the orange peel has softened, add the sugars, cranberries, and chopped apricots (oh, yeah. Chop the apricots.)

Stir everything together and bring it back to a boil. Boil hard for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: If the gel is important to you, remove the conserve from the heat and test the gel. If it is not set enough for you, return to the heat and boil for another 5 minutes. If not (it wasn’t important to me), remove it from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans. Ladle it into hot jars.

Fill the jars to 1/4″ headspace, wipe the rims (this stuff is sticky!) , top with hot lids and screw bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Aside from being really beautiful in the jar, this stuff is good on everything. Spread some on a turkey sandwich. Dollop some over ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

The Wife



Pressure Canning: Black Beans; Method 2

When I first started canning earlier this year, I focused on canning things we use on a regular basis. Since we use  a lot of black beans, I took dried beans and canned them using this method. Basically, I cooked the beans for a little while, then canned them with the cooking liquid.

One of my lovely readers (thank you, Sheri!) commented that cooking the beans isn’t necessary. You can put dry beans in the jars, top them with hot water, and pressure can them, thus preventing mushy beans. And, while the first batch of beans I canned weren’t mushy, omitting an extra step did appeal to me. So, since we ran out of canned beans a few weeks ago, I thought I’d try out Sheri’s method.

I put 2/3 C. of dry black beans into pint jars (2 pound of beans filled 8 pint jars)

Then I boiled water and poured it into the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Then I topped the jars with hot lids and screw bands and placed them into my preheated pressure canner.

From here I  followed the regular procedure: venting the canner and processing the beans for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

The only drawback I can see is that two of my jars didn’t seal. This may be my fault, and not the method used. Either way, I put those two in the fridge, and will use them in the next few weeks.

This method was definitely easier and didn’t take as much time (or cooking equipment). I will use this method from now on. Anything to keep from cleaning…

The Wife



Preserving Week: Peach White-Wine Preserves

I made some yogurt this weekend, which can also be considered preservation. To top this yogurt, I made use of the abundance of peaches here in TX, and made a yummy peach preserve.

Peach White-Wine Preserves

Ingredients:

  • approx. 6 cups peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 C. white table or dessert wine
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. flex-batch pectin

Step 1: blanch the peaches, then peel and chop.

If you like chunky preserves, leave the peach pieces larger. If not, then cut them up more finely.

Step 2: Put the chopped peaches in a dutch oven. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Once they have simmered, add the white wine and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Step 4: Next add the sugar and lemon juice and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, add the pectin and boil hard for 1 minute.

Step 5: Skim the foam if needed, then ladle into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims, place the lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Step 6: After processing, cool in an out of  the way spot for 24 hours, then store.

Make sure you use a sweeter wine; too dry a wine does not complement the peach flavor as well. This made 4 12 oz. (jelly) jars.

The Wife

BWB Canning: Blueberry Lemon Verbena Butter

I finished Marisa McClellan’s book Food in Jars in less than 24 hours. If you have never been to Marisa’s blog, you absolutely must go. It is beautifully executed and has tons of amazing recipes from granola, to this blueberry butter.

If I haven’t said it before, The Renaissance Man is addicted to blueberries. Ladies, if you need to find the way to your man’s heart, feed him blueberries. It worked for me.

I used Marisa’s recipe for blueberry butter. It is featured in her book, as well as on her blog here. Instead of lemon zest, though, I used lemon verbena. I think it lended a nice earthy note to this butter.

Blueberry Lemon Verbena Butter

Ingredients:

  • 8 C. pureed blueberries (approx. 8 pints)
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 8-10 leaves lemon verbena, chopped

Step 1: Puree the blueberries. Dump them into a crock pot.

Blueberries in a black crock pot are hard to see.

Step 2: turn the crock pot on low for 8 hours. Put on the lid. After 1 hour, stir the blueberries and prop open the lid of the crock pot a bit.

Step 3: Stir every hour and monitor the consistency of the butter. When it gets almost to the consistency of pie filling, add the sugar, spices, lemon juice, and lemon verbena. Let it cook for one more hour.

Step 4: You can either leave the blueberry butter chunky, or stick an immersion blender in it to smooth it out. I used this as an excuse to pick up an immersion blender, since they are amazing and I’ve been needing one for a while.

Step 5: When the butter is almost done cooking, prepare your jars, lids, and BWB canner.

Step 6: Ladle the butter into prepared jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. I’m using Weck jars here, and I had to increase the headspace to 1/2″ to account for the glass lids.

Step 7: Put lids and screw bands onto the jars (or lids and clamps, for the Weck jars). Place them into the canner and bring the water to a boil.

Step 8: Once the water is boiling, process the jars for 10 minutes. After the processing time is up, remove the jars and set aside to cool for 24 hours.

Serve this blueberry butter on biscuits, toast, or anything you’d put jam on.

I processed 8 1/2 pints of this blueberry butter and I guarantee it won’t last long.

The Wife

Oh, by the way, does anyone know how to get blueberry stains out of a wooden spoon?

Pressure Canning: Whole, Raw-Packed Green Beans

The Renaissance Man loves green beans. Mostly he loves canned green beans. Most of all he loves the green beans his granny cans in the summer.

Well, I am not granny (who is an absolute treasure of a woman. She is fiesty and sweet, and definitely a woman to learn from), but I sure can put some green beans in a jar and pressure can them for my man.

I did several things different from granny’s time-tested recipe: I canned the beans whole, I raw-packed them, and I pressure canned them. Just because they used the boiling water method years ago doesn’t mean I’m going to risk giving my beloved husband botulism. And low-acid foods like green beans must be pressure canned. No exceptions.

I bought some green beans (about 3 Lb.s I estimate) from the farmer’s market (these beans came from Waller, TX), washed, and trimmed them.

I prepped my jars, lids, and screw bands, as well as got the pressure canner ready. I used pint jars (because TRM is the only one who eats them) but quart jars can be used as well.

I packed the raw beans into the jars, leaving 1″ headspace. I sprinkled about 1/2 tsp. of salt into each jar.

I poured boiling water over the beans up to the 1″ headspace. I placed my lids, tightened my screw bands to fingertip tight, and placed the jars into the pressure canner.

After venting the canner for 10 minutes, I processed the beans for 20 minutes (25 for quart jars).

I ended up with seven pints of green beans.

Ball vs. Kerr

I don’t know who out there cans, but I am new to the process. I have used 1/2 pint and pint Kerr jars until I bought some pint Ball jars to compare. I didn’t expect a difference, since they are both made by the same company. Imagine my surprise when I noticed a big difference! Ball jars have measurements marked on the side (Kerr does not) and the Ball lids and screw bands are much sturdier and less prone to denting. Has anyone else noticed this difference? What jars do you prefer to use?

The Wife