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Canning time!

Hey, yeah, I ventured into blueberry-lemon and strawberry-basil too. Fun combos. I like the lemon-ginger marmalade idea too. I've also heard of meyer lemon-vanilla, got that on my ever-growing, ever-morphing list of canning to-dos..... the obsession continues.

Sep 27, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning time!


LNG212 - I know, I'm having harvest time anxiety too, trying to can everything in site but there's never enough time!

Morwen - Yeah, interesting, right? That was Lelo in Nopo who suggested the slow cooker. And you do fruit butters in the oven? Huh.

Do you have a recipe for fruit butter done in the oven or did you just start doing that yourself for the sake of convenience? I'm curious - at what temp do you cook it at and for how long? And do you still follow the same method (i.e.: cook, process in food mill, then continue cooking until you hit desired consistency)?

Sep 27, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning time!

Hey LNG212 and all,

Yes, plums are still going here in Montreal too, though they are quickly getting edged out by pumpkins and apples!

Might try out this plum chutney too. Sounds intriguing. On the subject of plums: have you ever made Polish-style plum butter? I just made a batch and it turned out INCREDIBLE. Such a beautiful color, super smooth texture and an intoxicating fragrance. Seriously, one of my fave canning exploits this summer. The old-fashioned Polish one (actually Croatian as well, and a few other Eastern-European countries do it too) is pretty much plums and sugar. I added a little orange zest and juice, and vanilla to mine.

Here's my recipe (see more about it here:, based on an Epicurious one and another from my Time-Life Preserving book from 1981:

Slightly orangey plum butter

4 lbs plums, sliced into small-ish segments (about 12 cups


1 vanilla pod

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Zest of one orange

Put all ingredients into a big pot (having split open the vanilla pod and stirred the seeds into the mixture). Cook over medium heat (a healthy simmer) for 25-30 minutes until you have a fragrant, deeply coloured, bubbling fruit soup.

Run the mixture through a food mill (this is the proper way), or do as I did – only if, like me, you’re not fussed about having bits of plum peel in there – and use a hand-held blender to purée the stuff, once you’ve taken it off the heat, of course.

Continue cooking the purée for another 30-40 minutes or so over low heat until the consistency is quite thick and gloopy. Then process in hot, clean jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.


Other updates: I've been making pickles like crazy, including some sliced zucchini pickles inspired by The Joy of Pickling. And a fall fruit (apple, plum and pear) jam that I messed up (!), a fig and vanilla jam that turned out quite nice and a Quebecois favourite: ketchup aux fruits. I also made Eugenia Bone's recipe for concord grape and walnut preserves from her book 'Well-Preserved' - very nice indeed - would be perfect on a cheese plate.


That's it for now.

Sep 26, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning time!

Couldn't resist chiming in on the brandied peaches/canned peaches/floating peaches discussion. I just made a few different versions of canned peaches, here's an abridged version of post on the subject (see it with pics at ) :

I made three different kinds of canned peaches recently – peaches in honey-sugar syrup, brandied peaches (from the NY Times piece ) and peaches in honey and lavender syrup.

I based my peaches in honey and sugar syrup and peaches in honey-sugar-lavender syrup on a recipe I found in Time-Life’s Preserving book from The Good Cook series, published in 1981 (Richard Olney, the great American food writer and Alice Waters’ mentor, was chief consultant on the series), where the syrup is made with sugar and honey instead of just sugar.

I’d used the lavender I picked up on a road trip to Blue Hill Farm in New York in a blueberry jam a few weeks ago but found the berries overpowered it. So I thought it might stand up to peaches and add a lovely, subtle perfume to the syrup. You can easily leave it out, if you prefer. I made one batch with and one without.

Peaches in honey-sugar syrup (with lavender, if you like


5 lbs (2 1/4 kg) peaches
4 cups (1 l) water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lavender flowers (if desired), tied in cheese cloth

Blanch the peaches by carefully lowering them into a pot of simmering water. Remove them after 30 seconds with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Once they’ve cooled a little, skin them with a pairing knife, then half or quarter them (I like to quarter as I find these smaller pieces pack more easily into jars and float less). Pour lemon juice over fruit and mix gently to cover the each segment (this step prevents browning).

Prepare the syrup by bringing water, sugar and honey (and lavender, if using) to a boil. Boil for five minutes then reduce to a simmer. Add peaches and cook for two-three minutes, just enough to soften them a little. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon, packing them into hot, clean 500-ml (pint) jars. Quickly bring syrup back to a boil for a few minutes to reduce and thicken it a little, then pour over peaches, leaving a 1/2 inch head space (about 1.5 cm). Remove any air bubbles by running a plastic knife or spatula along the inside edges of the jars. Put on the lids that have been simmering in water to soften rubber seals, screw on rings then process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

In my first batch I didn’t pack the peaches in tightly enough for fear of bruising the ultra-sensitive fruit, so I ended up with a pretty floaty finished product, which others have complained of here. On my second attempt, I sliced them in quarters and packed them in more snugly, which made for less bobbing bits up top.

Morwen - spicy cherry tomato preserves sound amazing, good luck at the fair!

Vetter- plum jam with pink peppercorn, love the sound of that.

Sep 16, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning time!

Momskitchen - just peeped your book list. Pretty sweet. I actually just ordered the Joy of Pickling off Amazon. Am awaiting it with much anticipation.

And yes, I can imagine that Eugenia Bone's book may not be as useful or interesting to very experienced canners. She is perfectly marketed for city folk like me who perhaps had never considered canning before because they thought it was some very complex thing that only rural people with gardens and huge kitchens did. Very modern layout, not too many recipes (more recipes for how to use your canned goods than for actual canned stuff). But I do like it.

AGM Cape Cod - when people look at you like you're nuts because you can you can just tell them that in actual fact you are on the very cutting edge of culinary trends! Heh heh.

Sep 01, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning time!

Morwen - that list is crazy! I love it.

I'm curious - you sound like a very experienced canner. Are there some canning books you return to over and over?

In fact, would love to hear which recipe books all you canners out there like the most, or where you find inpiration - old family recipes? friends' recipes? new or old books?

I've been busy this summer too, frantically putting up everything I can get my hands on. Summer really seems to fly by when you spend it putting things up at peak-season (sometimes that's a small window of time).

The weather's a little cooler now which is nice - I spent some memorable days during a heat wave standing over a hot pots of jam and a canner filled with boiling water - not exactly where you want to be during sweltering, humid weather, but still totally worth it in the end.

Here's what I've done so far:


a few different strawberries (w/ mint, w/ basil and lime, w/ just lime, and w/ balsamic)
blueberry, blueberry and lime (I'm on a citrusy jam kick)
apricot and plum with rosemary
greengage plum (wow! ever worked with these? they have afresh, green apple-y flavour but more fragrant, just incredible... from a Christine Ferber recipe)
fig and star anise

Pickles, relishes etc.:

brandied peaches (NY Times ran a recipe the other week:
)peaches in honey syrup
dill pickles
garlic dill spears
spicy corn relish with smoked paprika
pickled cauliflower
spicy Mediterranean marinated pickled eggplant

Still to come:

lots of tomatoes (sauce, whole etc.), more piccalilli (a big hit with my friends), more canned peaches (coming to the end of the season), pickled beets.

I found a copy of the Time-Life Preserving book from 1981 which has been a huge inspiration, along with a few other more contemporary books (Blue Ribbon Preserves and Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved).

I don't have a pressure-cooker yet so I haven't ventured into meats or fish or low-acid stuff. I guess that will be the next step.

Sep 01, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Pressure Canning Tomatoes: Do I need an acid?

Oh, interesting. I'd love to find out how you like the taste? Do you think the citric acid will affect it?

And Laura: Wow. That's exactly what I've heard from other experienced canners. I wonder why the new literature says to add acid in the pressure cooker? ...

Anyway, six, let us know if you do decide to go the pressure route and how each batch compares in terms of acid and non-acid. I will post about my own tomato canning experiences later this week. Excited!!

Aug 23, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Overabundance of peaches!

I've made the peach jam recipe from Blue Ribbon Preserves twice in the past few weeks. Though I like to reduce the sugar (from 7 to 4 cups) and it still sets fine:

Peach jam

4 cups peaches, chopped and lightly crushed
¼ cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar
½ tsp unsalted butter
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine peaches, lemon juice and half the sugar, cover and let stand about 20 minutes. Remove cover, add remaining sugar and the butter, allowing it to dissolve over low-medium heat, then bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and skim foam.

Return to heat, bring to a rolling boil then stir in pectin. Return to boil, boil while stirring continuously for one minute. Remove from heat and skim any remaining foam. Allow to cool, then stir to redistribute fruit bits. Fill and process sterilized jars for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Aug 22, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Pressure Canning Tomatoes: Do I need an acid?

This is a great question. I'm also planning on doing a lot of tomato canning in the next few weeks. A friend of mine just told me that she even cans hers with the water bath method without acids because she knows so many Italians who've been doing it that way for years, and so many vendors at the farmer's market who say the same - that the lemon juice or citric acid changes the taste and is not needed. And that's just in a water bath!

I'm a little unsure though. I still like to go with the safest method possible. Because I've also read that even canning tomatoes in a pressure cooker requires some kind of added acid. I wonder if any longtime canners have any advice based on their own experiences with tomatoes over the years? Very curious what people think of the great acid or no acid debate when it comes to canning tomatoes...

Aug 22, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Calling all pickle freaks

Oh, great, thanks for the OK on trimming both ends!!

And I have been meaning to get the Zuni cookbook for ages, have not done zucchini yet. Sounds intriguing.

Let me know how your next batch goes!

Aug 14, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Calling all pickle freaks

This is great, thanks for the info.

I'm going to look into that book. I actually just made their recipe for dill spears that is at, except I processed them the 'slow-pasteurization' way and I also soaked the cucumbers in ice water for about three-four hours.

I've heard about cutting the "blossom end" off. So far I haven't been able to tell which end that is, so I've just been trimming both ends... is that a no-no?

But these are super tips. For now I'm also going with a 1:1 ratio, and will post my experiments (and results after a few weeks in the jars) soon.

It's crazy how much pickling brines can vary in different books/sites. Here are just a few examples I've come across lately:

For dill pickles (Time Life Preserving): 1 quart water, 1/2 cup vinegar
Dill pickles (Bernardin home canning book) 2 cups vinegar, no water
Crunchy dill pickles (Blue Ribbon Preserves): 3 cups vinegar (and sugar, with cukes having been soaked for 24 hours in salt water)
For dill pickles (All Recipes: 4 cups vinegar, 12 cups water

And that's not to mention how much salt and sugar is used....

Aug 13, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

making plum jam - can i decrease the sugar called for?

Hi tastycakes,

I just made an apricot-plum jam (more plum than apricot), with 4 cups fruit and 4 cups sugar (the recipe called for 7 cups sugar) using liquid pectin and it turned out perfectly, with a great, silky set texture and a lovely sweet-tart taste. As notes, plums have lots of pectin so they set well.

I know that sugar acts as a preservative but I just make sure to eat my jams (I often use less sugar than the recipe calls for) within about 6-9 months, rather than a year or a year and a half. I like the taste better this way. Of course, I process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes as well.

Aug 13, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Canning Tips

Hi cassoulady,

Just wondering: how did you go with your pickles? I've also started pickling and would love ot hear more about others' pickling experiences (I started a pickles thread too, asking about things like the 'slow pasteurization method' for preserving crunch and the different brines out there: ).

I've been canning (lots of jam, some relishes etc.) and pickling is my new frontier. I can tell you about one failure so far: a recipe that had an all vinegar (plus salt and sugar, but no water) brine. The cukes were sliced, bread-and-butter style and turned out insanely sour. That was my first batch ever. In subsequent batches I've used water-vinegar brines.

Does anybody have a great foolproof pickles recipe (one for water bath-processed jars) that they seem to always return to?

Aug 13, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Calling all pickle freaks

Hi Laura,

Ah, so you would make extra brine too? yeah, it never seems to be enough... I'm going to just go ahead and start doubling the brine at the start so I don't have to make it at the last moment.

Oh, yeah, I'd be curious what your book from the 70s says. I'm going to pack them more tightly too. I wonder how many people are getting into pickling now too? Maybe it's not as popular as jam making?

Aug 13, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Calling all pickle freaks


Right now the little pickling cukes are very plentiful at the market, so these are what I'm focusing on at the moment.

I'm very curious to find out from experienced pickle-makers (not quick pickles, but jarred and processed ones with a shelf life):

- How do you maintain crunch? I just read about and tried the "slow pasteurization" method, where instead of processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, you process at a simmer (exactly 180 degrees) for 30 minutes, which supposedly keeps things crunchy. (I haven't opened these jars yet... fingers crossed). Anyone try both these methods and seen a difference?

- What is your usual water-vinegar ratio in the brine? The first recipe I ever used (from the Bernardin - Canada's answer to Ball - home canning book) for sliced, spicy pickles was 100 per cent vinegar and they obviously turned out crazy sour - horrible. But maybe they will mellow in a few months?? Then I read online that you should have a 1:1 ration for food safety reasons. But then I've seen tons of recipes in my preserving books and online that use all kinds of ratios, some with very little vinegar. I'd be very interested to hear any thoughts on this and what ratios have worked best for people in the past.

- And finally: I've made a few batches now and seem to always need to frantically cook up more brine than the recipe calls for as I run out before I've filled all my jars. Am I not adding enough cucumbers to the jars - how tightly should they be packed? Or is something else going on?

Aug 12, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Making jam with or without pectin?

I have also jumped on the jam-making train and am curious about why some people are against pectin. In my relatively limited experience (I've made about 10 batches of jam so far), pectin seems like a great tool since you cut down on cooking time thereby preserving the full flavor of the fruit, and so you haven't reduced the fruit-sugar mixture to a very sweet, concentrated spread. But I suppose that is exactly what some people want in a jam? Which I can totally understand. I guess we all have a taste memory or idea of what a jam 'should' taste like, or of the way we like our jam to taste.

As for myself, I am searching for a lighter-tasting, lower-sugar (not for health reasons, just taste!), fully fruity jam where the taste of the fruit at its very peak has been captured as faithfully as possible, with as little boiling/simmering as possible and I guess in my mind, no-pectin, longer cooking jams go in another direction, intensifying the sweetness and almost caramelizing the fruit.

Then again, I have yet to delve into Mes Confitures by reigning French jam queen Christine Ferber, which has recipes for no-pectin jams that seem to have pretty short cooking times (but always a night or two of maceration). Excited to try them out.

I get the sense that some people (certain posters here and perhaps Lazar's 'jam junkie' mother) think using pectin is almost like cheating??

Here's another thread with an interesting debate the different kinds of pectins that are out there:

Also: these plum jams all sound amazing!

And on the subject of plums... here is my recipe for plum-apricot (optional addition of rosemary) using liquid pectin, which I based on a recipe from the book Blue Ribbon Preserves (I also used a 1:1 sugar-fruit ration instead of an almost 2:1 ratio, and I reversed the ratio of plums and apricots used in the book):

Plum-apricot jam (with rosemary, if desired


1 1/2 cups apricots, chopped and crushed
2 1/2 cups plums, chopped and crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
1 pouch liquid pectin
1 branch of rosemary (or two? depends on how partial you are to rosemary)

Combine mushed fruit (I chop mine, then crush gingerly with a potato masher) with lemon juice and sugar in a stainless steel pot, cover and let stand for about 30 mins. Uncover (you can add rosemary now, sprigs tied tightly with kitchen string, or in a herb bag or tied in some cheese cloth), bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Boil for two minutes, stirring gently. Remove pan from heat, skim foam, return pan to heat, boil again for one minute. Remove pan from heat again and skim foam. Stir in the butter, then once again bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add pectin, return to boil for one minute, stirring continuously, then remove from heat and skim any foam off one last time. Remove rosemary, if used.

Allow to cool for five minutes, then stir to re-distribute fruit bits. Ladle jam into hot jars (this worked out to about six 250-ml jars for me), leaving 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) head space. Wipe jar rims then add hot lids that have been sitting in simmering water, screw on ring bands and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (at sea level – more time for higher altitudes).

Aug 12, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Help on canning and preserving methods...

And... one more helpful canning/preserving link - from this site!!

Aug 12, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

My jam tastes like a gummy bear!

Hi Sally,

I'm a new poster (though long-time reader) on Chow. Just thought I would chime in with my thoughts on pectin. I'm pretty new to jam making, but very enthusiastic and having fun with it. This summer I've made strawberry-mint, strawberry-basil-lime, strawberry-balsamic, burnt raspberry (a mistake turned good), fig and star anise, plum-apricot and peach jams. I've tried out regular powdered pectin, low-sugar powdered pectin and liquid pectin.

I am curious: is there a reason why you don't want to use pectin beyond that it has failed you, consistency-wise, in the past? If a pectin gave you the set you are looking for, would you be into using it?

I'm not into no-pectin jams because I don't like to cook the fruit too long with so much sugar, not into that syrupy business. You are so right, pectins can be so different. For now, I've come to the conclusion that I like liquid best. I was convinced by Linda Amendt's book Blue Ribbon Preserves. Basically, she argues that liquid pectin is the best because it gives such a lovely, consistent set (so far I have experienced this to be true), and lovely fruit-forward flavour. Sounds like the setting you are describing matches the jams I've made from this book. So far, anyway.

Her formula is pretty simple: Combine fruit and sugar, let sit a little. Boil for short amounts of time, skim foam, then add liquid pectin, boil one minute more, skim foam again and you're done.

But as discussed here, everyone's jam-making styles are completely unique. I personally really don't like super sweet jams so I always cut the sugar contents in recipes (so my jams have a 6-month use-by rather than a year). I also don't like the jelly consistency of low/no-sugar pectin. And I like to experiment by adding herbs and spices, which some people find superfluous. Anyway, a few more jams'preserves on my to-make list for the coming weeks: blueberry-lime, drunken fig, more peach (maybe peach-ginger?), more plum...

Aug 12, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking

Help on canning and preserving methods...

Hi cityhopper,

I am totally obsessed with canning, preserving, making jams and pickles. It's getting out of control. I actually started blogging about it last month just to keep track of what I'm doing, get the recipes down and also explore different books on the subject and different recipes I'm finding online. I'm finding it highly addictive.

In the past month, I've made three different strawberry jams, Moroccan preserved lemons, two different cuke pickles, corn relish, fig jam, apricot-plum jam, peach jam, burnt raspberry jam ( a mistake that actually turned out quite good!), strawberry-rhubarb jam.... In the next few days I'll be making piccallili (an English mustard pickle with cauliflower) and more dill pickles, then it'll be tomato time - big time. Then tons of other stuff (I have a long list and am just working my way through what's in season).

Yes. As you can see, it has truly become an obsession. My husband is a little scared.

Here are some sites/blogs on canning that I've found helpful so far: (same one mentioned by margshep
) (Canadian version of site mentioned by beggsy
) (she's a great canner, lists lots of recipes
) (a Canadian mag's list of pickles and preserves recipes

And a few books I've bought (I've also found some gems at secondhand bookshops, but these recipes need to be updated sometimes as canning guidelines have changed over the years):

Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures:

Blue Ribbon Preserves:

Eugenia Bone's new book, Well-Preserved:

And here's my blog, with the latest posting on my plum-apricot and peach jams (adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves) - they turned out great!

I would love to hear about your canning progress. I'm looking to connect with fellow canning nerds and to start a dialogue about recipes, techniques, trouble-shooting etc.

Aug 12, 2009
Pantry Party in Home Cooking