Category Archives: Recipes

Beaucoup Blueberries

blueberries in bowlBetween June and July chances are pretty good that you can get your hands on fresh blueberries, whether from a grocery store, a farm market, or your own backyard. People increasingly like blueberries for their nutrition and health benefits, but people have liked them for a long time just because they taste so good! Whether you prefer the larger, commonly cultivated highbush blueberries or the smaller, wild lowbush blueberries, you have many options for preserving the blueberry bounty.

Canning Whole Berries

If you like to add whole berries overtop oatmeal or if you haven’t decided exactly how you’ll use them later, then you might want to simply can Berries – Whole using a boiling water canner. You have the option to add a sugar syrup or juice to further sweeten or flavor the berries, or you can just add water, as specified in the directions.

Canning Berry Syrup

Berry Syrup can be made with or without the inclusion of whole berries, as recommended in 3crushedfruitthe directions. First you will crush then strain a juice made of the berries (setting aside 1 or 2 cups of berries to add whole, if desired), then you will heat it with sugar into a thickened syrup.

Canning Blueberry Pie Filling

For a pie filling that’s ready-to-go into the oven any time of year, prepare and can Blueberry Pie Filling. For this recipe, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you have Clear Jel® available.

rolling boil

Blueberry Jams

Blueberries are lower in natural pectin than is needed to form a good gel-structure, so you’ll add commercial pectin or combine blueberries with another, more pectin-rich fruit to make blueberry jams. There’s nothing wrong with a plain Blueberry Jam, but you could also try these varieties of blueberry jam jarsBlueberry Jams combined with other fruits and flavors: Blueberry-Spice Jam, Spiced Blueberry-Peach Jam, and Blueberry Currant Jam.

Freezing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple way to make those sweet berries last longer and remain versatile for purposes to be determined at a later time is to freeze them. Freeze blueberries using the tray pack method for best results. Blueberries freeze well even without sugar added, and then you don’t have to calculate that amount of added sugar into your final recipe if you decided to cook or bake with them. Remember these General Freezing Tips for Packaging and Labeling Frozen Foods.

Drying

Last but not least, you could dry blueberries into a lightweight trail-side snack or granola ingredient. Just be sure to puncture the side walls of the berries so that they do not trap in moisture and get case-hardened (use a toothpick to poke all the way through each berry before drying).blueberries on a dryer tray

To learn more about blueberries, visit our University of Georgia blueberry page, and for even more about blueberries, check out the national eXtension blueberry site.

Simply Soup

tomato vegetable soupThis cold, long winter will be a memorable one for many. Hopefully you made use of your reserve of fresh and preserved foods, but you may have made your way through it all! If you are already thinking about preparing for next year, then you may like the idea of canning soup to bring delicious and nutritious warmth during the coldest days.

Different from the vast majority of USDA canning recommendations, our recommendation for IMG_1071Canning Soup allows you to have some choice of vegetables, dried beans or peas, meat, poultry, or seafood. However, that does NOT mean that it is safe to can just any combination and proportions of ingredients, sorry!  For your safety, please regard these key precautions before before getting out your pressure canner (and yes, a pressure canner is required for canning soup):

  • Our recommendation for canning soup does NOT allow you to include noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening or dairy ingredients.
  • The procedure for canning soup says “Each vegetable should be selected, washed, prepared and cooked as you would for canning a ‘hot pack’ according to USDA directions”, which means that there must be a canning recommendation for each added ingredient. As examples, for this reason we cannot recommend adding cabbage nor cured meats like cured ham to canned soup.
  • It is also very important when canning soup that you “Fill jars halfway with solid mixture.” The reason behind filling the jar 1/2 with solids and 1/2 with liquid is to ensure the safety of the product. Our recommendation for canning soup may have a substantial amount of variability based on which vegetables and/or meats are selected and in what proportions. The 1:1 liquid to solid ratio ensures that a certain rate of heating occurs so Soup filled jars half and halfthat the dangerous bacterial spores of botulinum will be destroyed no matter which ingredients (that are noted in the recommendation as acceptable) you select and prepare as directed. Heat transfers more easily and quickly through liquid than through solids and dense mixtures, so a new canning process time would have to be determined through product testing if you were to increase the solid to liquid ratio.

If you choose to follow canning recommendations from another source, then you are choosing to trust their product testing of their recipe, procedure, and process time — they are responsible for their own product testing and you could certainly contact them if you have questions about their recommendations.

Our canning VegSoup1recommendations are meant to be followed exactly as written, and we unfortunately cannot provide individual testing of homemade recipes. If you are still wondering if you can can your favorite homemade soup recipe at home, please read our Burning Issue: Canning Homemade Soups.  Remember too that once you can soup as recommended, you can add your choice of ingredients AFTER you open the jars and re-heat the soup for serving!

Plain or pickled, they make great treats. What are they? Yes, they’re Beets!

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, beets are a healthy and delightfully colorful wintertime veggie. (Did you know that Betanin, often used in industrial food production as red food coloring, is from beet root?) Beets are easily roasted, baked, or steamed into a fresh side dish, and there are even more options for preserving them.

Here are a few ways we recommend to preserve those bright and beautiful beets:

If you’re not up for canning, then you can simply freeze beets. Select tender, young beets (ideally 1 to 2 inches diameter) and wash them then sort them according to size. Trim their leafy tops, leaving ½ inch of stems and tap root to prevent the color from bleeding out during cooking. Boil the beets until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes for small beets and 45 to 50 minutes for medium beets. Cool the cooked beets immediately in cold water then peel, remove stem and tap root, and cut into slices or cubes. Leave 1/2-inch headspace in the freezer containers as you pack them, then place in a freezer.cut beets

Beets can also be preserved by pressure canning them in pint or quart size jars. For a full canner load of 9 pints use about 13.5 pounds and for a canner load of 7 quarts use about 21 pounds. Remember, those amounts are averages, obtained by weighing the beets without tops, and there will be natural variance in actual quantities. You will remove skins before canning the beets; to do so, trim off beet tops, leaving an inch of stem and roots (you’ll cut these off later), scrub the beets, boil them for 15 to 25 minutes depending on size, and then cool them just enough to handle without burning yourself, and remove their skins, tops and roots. The beets should remain warm or hot going into the jars.  Baby beets can be left whole, but medium or large beets need to be cut into 1/2-inch cubes or slices. Add one teaspoon salt per quart jar if you like, then fill the jars with the hot beets. Add fresh hot water that has been brought to a boil first (not the water you used to boil the beets with), leaving 1-inch headspace. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes in a pressure canner, making altitude adjustments as required in the tables here.

If you prefer boiling water canning and want to try something with more flavor, then try one of our pickled beet recipes. Pickled Beets are highlighted with the flavors of sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and onions (optional) and No Sugar Added Pickled Beets are almost the same, except that the sugar is replaced with a sucralose sweetener.

 

Tips for Gifting your Home-Canned Goodies

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

Citrus Marmalade

Chutneys

Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Marmalade, Cranberry Conserve

Flavored Vinegars

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 .