Giving home-preserved gifts adds a personal touch, but you do take on the added responsibility of vouching for the safety of the foods you give. As tempting as it may be to impress your recipients with a brand new, never-before-tasted canned creation, your first measure of safety is to use tested recommendations from reliable sources. Instead of experimenting with recipes, get creative with the way you package your home-preserved gifts.
If you use an attractive canning jar of a unique size (12 oz., for example) and you can’t find canning recommendations for that size jar, be sure to use the next biggest size jar that does have canning recommendations (so in the example of the 12 oz. jar, follow the process time listed for pint size jars). Otherwise the product might be under-processed and risk spoilage or causing sickness. Also, be aware that there are lovely jars out in the market place that are NOT recommended for canning. Some jars are intended for other uses, and even if they look like canning jars they may not be tempered to withstand the intense heat of canning or temperature changes that occur in taking jars in and out of canners. (These jars might work well to gift beautiful dried fruits, however!) Our canning recommendations are for use with Mason-type home-canning jars and two-piece lid systems.
Decorative labels are available from jar manufacturers and other companies. As you label your precious products, remember to include the creation date, and consider telling your recipient how long the product will stay “good” (usually one year for best quality with most home-canned foods). If you have room, also include the ingredients (especially if the product contains allergens) and storage instructions like “Store in a cool, dry place and refrigerate after opening.”
If you didn’t already do your canning for gift-giving, then here are a few festive ideas using seasonal ingredients:
Spiced Apple Rings, Apple Butter, Sweet Apple Relish
Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Marmalade, Cranberry Conserve
There are also a few popular holiday gifts that are NOT recommended for home-canning. Don’t risk the health of your loved ones — try the alternative suggestions instead:
Herbed Oil Infusions (try Flavored Vinegar instead –you don’t even need to can it!)
Canned Breads (instead, package dry ingredients and make a tag with baking instructions)
Canned Chocolate/Fudge Sauce (make this Freezer Chocolate Fudge Sauce instead)
This entry was inspired by Resources for Home Food Preservation Gifts by Brian A. Nummer. For more canning-related gift ideas, see Looking for a Gift that Keeps Giving? Try a Dehydrator! and Holiday Gifts for the Home Food Preserver .