I'm taking a break from sharing vacation pics this week to bring you special post about canning! We had just returned from Colorado and there was almost nothing in the house to eat, so I wrote up a week's worth of meal plans and grocery list, got my favorite list keeper Luca into the car, and headed to my favorite grocery store--Winco.
I always start by stocking up on fruits and veggies before I make my way around the outside edges of the store, only stopping for apple squishy pouches and the occasional bag of flour tortillas from the middle. On this trip, I spotted rows and rows of glorious fruit all at fantastic prices! 88 cents for a pint of blueberries! $1.68 for a box of strawberries! 99 cents a pound for sweet cherries! It was too good to pass up. I filled the cart with lots and lots of choices, knowing I would have to get right to canning within a day or two so the beautiful freshness wouldn't spoil.
I started with a single batch of Blueberry Jalapeno Jam the very next day (a recipe of my own invention), but was a bit discouraged to learn that blueberries shouldn't be pureed. The jam gelled wonderfully though, so I'm sure we'll eat it anyway but I decided to try again the next day.
Despite yearly checkups for both kids in the morning and a toddler who wasn't interested in a nap when we got home, I set to work preparing fruit. 8 pints of blueberries, 4 fresh jalepeños from our planter, 10 pounds of cherries, 48 oz of raspberries, 2 lbs of strawberries, 5 peaches, 5 apricots, 3 pounds of pears and 3 pounds of apples went into my glorious creations. I referenced some of the Ball canning inserts to craft three new recipes, but I couldn't resist giving this lovely Sunshine Cherry Jam recipe a try too. (I also added a batch of this gorgeous Apple Pear Sauce after a third trip to the store for fruit ;)
I started with the Blueberry Jalepeño Jam again, determined to produce a better result. Instead of blending the berries I mashed them with a potato masher, adding "juiced" jalepeños to the mixture and just the right amount of sugar. If you like things spicy, you could definitely use a hotter pepper or more jalepeños--this jam isn't necessarily spicy but you do taste some of the pepper's characteristics. You can find the recipe below and make up your own batch!
Once that recipe was canned and processing in the water bath, I washed up all of my tools and started prepping cherries. Thank you lowly paperclip! I had never used that technique to pit cherries before but it was much easier and faster than slicing them in half and prying the pit out. Sunshine Cherry Jam was next up.
I only used about 1/3 of the cherries for that recipe, so after mixing some up in a sterilized quart jar with sugar and Everclear to make some lovely cocktail garnishes, I used the remaining cherries in a special recipe I'm calling Very Cherry Berry Jam.
After a final round of tool washing I decided to use the peaches and apricots before they got too mushy to invent a Peachy Apricot Jam, which was also a great success! (Recipe below!)
And... since I'm crazy... I made one final trip to the store a few days later and headed home with enough ingredients for a second test batch of Very Cherry Berry Jam (new and improved!) and Apple Pear Sauce. My new apple-corer-peeler-slicer contraption came in handy (thanks Cathy!) and that recipe went together super fast. I especially love the addition of fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice--it gave the sauce such a lovely brightness. I would definitely recommend this version!
I'm so excited to share my new recipes with you! I hope you love them, and I'd be so excited to hear how your batches turn out!
Blueberry Jalapeno Jam
Yields: 5 pints plus a bit
-5 pints blueberries, washed & crushed
-2 fresh jalapenos (more or less according to your tastes)
-1/2 c water
-4 1/2 c sugar, divided
-3T Low/No Sugar Needed Pectin
Prepare jars and water bath canning station, if desired. Crush the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet with a potato masher. Puree the jalapenos in a BlendTec with 1/2 c water on Whole Juice setting until liquified. Add to the pot with the crushed berries. Remove 1/4 c of the sugar and combine with the pectin to prevent clumping. Stir into the fruit mixture and heat to a rolling boil. Carefully add the remaining 4 1/4 c sugar and bring back up to a rolling boil for 1-2 minutes. Fill prepared jars and process for the appropriate amount of time for your elevation (I did 6 minutes).
Peachy Apricot Jam
Yields: 3 pints
-4 c peaches, coarsely chopped, skins on (5 medium)
-1 1/2 c apricots, coarsely chopped, skins on (5 medium)
-3 T lemon juice
-3 1/2 c sugar, divided
-3 T No/Low Sugar Needed Pectin
Prepare jars and water bath canning station, if desired. Wash and chop fruit. Combine 1/4 c of the sugar with the pectin, add to boil pot with lemon juice and fruit. Bring up to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add remaining 3 1/4 c sugar, bring back to a rolling boil for 1-2 minutes. Fill prepared jars and process for the appropriate amount of time for your elevation (I did 6 minutes).
For both jams: Remove from water bath with a jar lifter and place on a thick towel on the counter, making sure jars don't touch. Cover with another thick towel and listen for the lids to pop. Leave jars to cool slowly, checking the lids by gently pressing them after several hours to make sure of the seal. If lids did not seal, either reprocess or put directly into the fridge to use right away. Don't forget to label your jars with their contents and date made.
Serve with warm, crusty bread and fresh butter and Enjoy!