Winter Canning Classes

I am offering private canning classes in the greater Seattle area--2 Hour Weekend or Evening classes - $199 for you and up to 9 of your friends. 

If you are getting started in canning and you would like me to help you in person for up to 3 hours, schedule a Can Along and I will get you through with success! - $199

You can email me to discuss either option: vic.phelps(at)

Fall Canning-Pickled Corn Relish

I visited the Columbia City Farmer's Market on Wednesday and everything looked fantastic! I got a little distracted by the pastries, bread, cheese, but I finally got around to the items on my list: corn, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers.

There is really nothing in the world like fresh sweet corn. In fact, America is one of the few countries in the world that eats(and enjoys) corn on the cob. Most of the rest of the world eats their corn after it is dried and processed. Here is a recipe that will conserve the crunch of sweet corn well into the winter months.

Pickled Sweet Corn Relish

3 ears of sweet corn, husked and cut from the cob (about 2 1/2 cups of kernels)
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 green tomato or green bell pepper, diced (about 2/3 cup)
4-5 ribs celery, diced(about 2/3 cup)
1 small onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/4 cup 5% acidity vinegar (white or apple cider, your choice!)
1 1/2 teaspoons Pickling Salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste

Makes about 6 half-pints or 3 pints. Recipe may be doubled.

*  TIP: When you dice the peppers, tomato, celery and onion, try to match the size of your corn kernels. Otherwise, the largest pieces will work their way to the top of the jar!

Combine corn, pepper(s), tomato, celery, onions, vinegar, salt, and celery seed in a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix mustard and turmeric in 1/2 cup of the simmered mixture. Add this mixture to the hot mixture. Simmer another 5 minutes. If desired, thicken mixture with flour paste (1/4 cup flour blended in 1/4 cup water) and stir frequently. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar and taste- add more sugar if desired. Fill hot jars with hot mixture, leaving 1/2- inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process. 15 minutes for pints or half pints.

Don't toss the waste out yet! There is one more project you may want to try...

Corn Cob Jelly

3 naked corn cobs
golden silk from the corn--discard the browned silk
Water to cover
2 tablespoons Ball Low/No Sugar Pectin 
2 cups sugar (white or brown)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 drop yellow food coloring, if desired

Makes about 3 half-pints. Recipe may be doubled.

* TIP: In a sauce pan, measure 2 cups of water. Mark the level on the pan and  then proceed. This will show you when the juice is reduced enough.

Place your corn cobs and silk in a sauce pan and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Remove the cobs and continue to simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups. Strain the liquid and return to the sauce pan. Mix pectin and sugar together and add to the hot corn juice. Add lemon or lime juice and food coloring(optional).

Bring to a full rolling boil and test the set by dribbling a little jelly onto a cold dinner plate. Tip the plate sideways to see how well the jelly is set. Taste the jelly--you can add more sugar if desired.  When the gel and sweetness are perfect pour the jelly into sterile half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process. 5 minutes for half pints.

99 Products to Make at Home: Apple Sauce to Zucchini Pickles!

Home Canning Facts:

1) Home Canning is Thrifty!
Canning jars are readily available, both new and used, and are reusable for decades. Fresh foods, purchased or gathered at the peak of harvest are inexpensive. Having a wide variety of Home Canned foods on hand prevents extra trips to the grocery store(and impulse buys. The average home canner can expect to save 30-50% off the cost of similar prepared foods.

2) Home Canning is Quick and Easy!
If you already cook meals, it is very easy to do small batches of Home Canning at the same time. Home Canning doesn't need to be the week-long project we witnessed in Grandma's day. With modern methods, the home canner can easily produce 8 jars of homemade jam in about 30 minutes or 6 jars of pickled asparagus in 20 minutes.

3) Home Canning is Healthy!
Home Canned fruits, pickles, tomatoes, jams and jellies retain the nutrients just as well as their commercially prepared counterparts without the problems associated with mass produced foods. Canning jars contain no BPA and you have full control over the amount of salt and sugar that is added to the food.

4) Home Canning is Safe!
Recipes for Home Canned products have been laboratory tested for many years and the incidence of problems associated with Home Canned foods have been reduced to negligible numbers through cleanliness and science.

5) Home Canning is Green!
Reusing materials trumps recycling! Canning jars and rings are reusable, for the rest of your life, with minimal care. Canning lids are used once and then can be recycled or, with a small extra investment in Tattler Reusable Lids, the process can be completely reusable. 

Large amounts of food can be processed at one time which spreads the energy cost across the whole batch. For example, a full batch of Home Canned apple sauce made from a local fruit tree would be processed for 20 minutes--that is about 1.5 kWh of energy or 12 cents(in the Seattle area) or about 2 cents of energy per jar of food. The waste goes in the compost, too! Compare that to driving to a store to buy a few cans of apple sauce that are going to cost $1.00 or more each than the Home Canned apple sauce.

6) Home Canning is Inspiring!
People who learn to Preserve foods at home often find themselves looking at processed foods in the grocery store and thinking, "I can make that!"  So, what products can be made and processed at home? More than you might imagine!

After attending an Introduction to Home Canning Class, students will be ready to tackle the following projects with confidence.

Antipasto Relish
Apple Sauce
Apple Juice
Apple Pie Filling
Asparagus Pickles
Barbecue Sauce
Beer Mustard
Beet & Fennel Pickles
Bloody Mary Mix
Chow Chow
Fruit butter (any flavor)
Jams (any flavor)
Jellies (any flavor)
Fruit Syrups (any flavor)
Blood Orange Marmalade
Brandied Apple rings
Bread & Butter Pickles
Chili Sauce
Chipotle Pepper Sauce
Chutney (all flavors)
Corn Relish
Cranberry Ketchup
Cranberry Mustard
Dill Pickles
Dilly Breans
Fig jam
Fruit in Light Syrup
Habanero Dill Pickles
Herb Jelly
Herbal Vinegar
Hot Sauce
Jalapeno Jelly
Lemon (or Lime) Curd
Maple & Walnut Syrup
Marinated Mushrooms
Mushroom Ketchup
Piccalilli Relish
Pickled Garlic
Pickled Onions
Pickled Green Tomato Relish
Pickled Sushi Ginger
Pickled Peppers & Pimento
Pickled Three-Bean Salad
Pineapple Salsa
Rum Sauce
Seafood Cocktail Sauce
Steak Sauce
Sweet Pickle Relish
Tomato Juice
Tomato Ketchup
Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes Sauce with Garlic & Basil
Zucchini Pickles

Classes are forming up all Summer! Visit the Registration Page to Sign-up or email vic.phelps at

Pressure Canning Classes are also forming up! Visit my Pressure Canning Page!

Apricots - Preserving the Harvest

Nearly Apricot Season!

Apricots first started production in the US in about 1792. Apricots originated in China and gradually made it to the Mediterranean where they had great success. Spanish explorers introduced it to the new world and it is now a small, but important crop to the state of Washington. Washington State produces roughly 400,000 boxes each year, which pales in comparison to the million of boxes produced in California, but we are known for our quality fruit, brilliant color and large size. Washington apricots are shipped throughout Northern America and to a few other countries as well.

Washington Apricots are a great seasonal fruit and are delicious for cooking and eating fresh out of hand. The Washington apricot season extends from late June to early August.

Apricot Nutrition

Beta-carotene, a member of the anti-oxidant family, is believed to play a critical role in fighting disease.  Apricots are a premium source of beta-carotene with just three fresh apricots containing about 30 percent of the recommended daily amount.

Vitamin A
The beta-carotene in apricots is converted to Vitamin A in the body.  This nutrient helps protect the eyes and keep the skin, hair, gums and various glands healthy.  It also helps build bones and teeth.  Plus, research shows that Vitamin A helps to fight infection by maintaining strong immunity.  For this reason, researchers are looking to apricots as a valuable source of beta-carotene’s healing power.  Note: beta-carotene is often called Vitamin A on food labels.

A Strong Anti-Oxidant Team
The unique mix of compounds found in apricots also makes this fruit a good choice for helping to fight heart disease. Along with beta-carotene, apricots contain the other powerful anti-oxidants, Vitamin C and lycopene. Combined, these compounds help protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Getting Five-A-Day
Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables each day plays an important role in healthy living.  The compounds found in food work together to provide the best benefit for your body.  As such, apricots are a solid choice for keeping healthy and adding variety to the five-a-day quota.

Shopping & Storing Tips

• Look for plump, fairly firm fruit with an orange-yellow to orange color.
• Fully ripe fruit is soft to the touch, juicy and should be eaten as soon as possible.
• Keep apricots cool to prevent over ripening.  Store ripe apricots in the refrigerator where they may keep for up to a week.
• Place hard apricots in a paper bag and let ripen for a day or two.
• To freeze fresh apricots, simply half the fruit and place on baking sheet until frozen. Then pack in a plastic freezer bag.
• Avoid green fruit which will not ripen.

Canning Apricots

An average of 16 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 10 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 50 pounds and yields 20 to 25 quarts-an average of 2¼ pounds per quart.

Select firm fruit slightly greener than would be ideal for eating fresh.

Wash fruit well. Cut prepared apricots in half, remove pits and slice if desired. To prevent darkening, keep peeled fruit in ascorbic acid solution. Prepare and boil a very light, light, or medium syrup or pack apricots in water, apple juice, or white grape juice.

Raw packs make poor quality apricots.

Hot pack – In a large saucepan place drained fruit in syrup, water, or juice and bring to boil. Fill jars with hot fruit and cooking liquid, leaving ½-inch headspace. Place halves in layers, cut side down. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Shut off heat and let the pot rest for 5 minutes. Then, remove jars to cool.

Silky Apricot Butter

4 lbs apricots, peeled, halved and pitted
1 cup water
3 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice 
  1. In a crockpot, combine apricots and water. Start with lid in place. Turn on high until mixture comes to a boil.. Prop up the lid on wooden spoons or chopstick to allow steam to escape, stirring occasionally, until apricots are soft and reduced, about 3-4 hours.
  2. Working in batches, transfer apricot mixture to a food mill or food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree just until a uniform texture is achieved. Do not liquify. Measure 12 cups of apricot puree.
  3. In the crock pot, combine apricot puree and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil on high and cook until mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon. 
  4. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim and place lids.
  5. Process for in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes. Turn heat off.  Wait 5 minutes then remove jars, cool and store.
Makes 6-7 Pints or 12-14 half-pints.

Mascat Apricot Dessert Topping

Use as a topping for pound cake, ice cream, frozen yogurt, etc.

1 1/2 pounds sliced fresh apricots
1/2 apricot nectar or orange juice

1 cup Muscat dessert wine

1 cup granulated sugar, mixed with
3 tablespoons ClearJel

Mix apricots and juice together and bring to a boil. Cook at a low simmer until apricots are soft. Add sugar+ClearJel and Muscat. Mix well and simmer for 1-2 minutes until thickened.

Pour into half-pint sized canning jars. Apply lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.

Makes 4-5 half-pints

Apricot Nectar

1 quart apricots
1/2 cup sugar
1 quart water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Wash and pit fresh fruit.  Boil fruit and water 5 minutes.   Strain.  Add sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Pour into pint canning jars, apply lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.

Makes 3 pints.

Pickled Apricots

A nice side dish for meat and poultry

7 lbs apricots(unpeeled, whole)
6 cinnamon sticks
4 cups sugar(may be all or part brown sugar)
whole cloves
1 tablespoon brandy per jar(optional)
2 cups vinegar

Wash apricots and stick 2-3 cloves into each one.  Boil cinnamon sticks and vinegar together.  Put apricots into syrup and boil gently for 5 minutes.   Pack into sterilized hot jars with one cinnamon stick in each jar and 1 tablespoon of brandy if desired. Pour in hot brine leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Apply lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.

Apricot Jam with Grand Marnier

• 2.2 pounds apricots, pitted and halved
• 3 cups sugar
• juice of one lemon
• 1 cup honey
• 2 ounces(1/4 cup) Grand Marnier Liquor

Sterilize 6 half-pint jars and keep hot until ready to fill.

1. Place prepared fruit in a bowl, add lemon juice, honey and sugar. Cover and macerate for several hours in the refrigerator.
2. Transfer mixture to a heavy pot and slowly bring to a full boil.
3. Lower heat to a controlled boil, skim and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to reduce and thicken, and the apricot halves begin to break down.
4. When the jam has reduced almost to the jell point, add the wine. Cook a few minutes longer until ready.
5. Ladle into jars and seal. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Apricot Relish

  • 2 pounds apricots
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups vinegar, white
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • teaspoons tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ClearJel
  1. Wash apricots and remove stones.
  2. Place all ingredients except flour in a pot, bring to the boil, stirring,reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Blend ClearJel with a little water and stir into mixture. Bring back to the boil and simmer 5 more minutes.
  4. Ladle into hot jars and apply lids and Process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.
  Apricot Wine

If you would like to learn more about Home Canning, join me for a canning class!

Cherries - Preserving the Harvest

Washington Cherry Season starts in June, so now is the time to brush up on everything we need to know about our wonderful, local cherry crop. First, Cherries are grouped into 2 types: Sweet Cherries and Sour Cherries. Most of the info on this page is going to be concerning the Sweet Cherries. Way down at the bottom, I have a couple of recipes for the Sour Cherries. Sour Cherries are not typically available in markets, but if you look carefully, you may spot Sour Cherry trees around your neighborhood! Sour Cherries are the ones that grow the best in the Seattle area and many people have planted them as ornamentals. Be nice and ASK FIRST before picking fruit off someone's tree! Sour cherries should be visible and ripe by mid-to-late June. Only pick the very red ones and come back a few days later and pick again. Green cherries are not much good--they are super sour and bitter.

 All cherries are HEALTHY! They are a rich source of potassium, melatonin, antioxidants, and a serving of a full cup of cherries has less than 100 calories.

Cherries are mostly local. The Northwest Cherry Season lasts from the first week of June until the end of August. Cherries are one of the freshest produce items available. Ripened on the tree, cherries are generally harvested, packed and on the shelf of your favorite retailer within 2 days. Growing regions scattered throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana offer small differences in microclimate which allow cherries throughout the region to ripen at different times through the season. This ensures that all summer long, the Northwest Cherries that you enjoy are never more than a few days from the tree.

Cherries come in different varieties.  Bing and Rainier cherries are the most common in our local markets but keep your eyes open and you may find Chelan, Tieton, Lapins, Skeena or Sweethearts in the market.

Or, skip the market and go right to the farm and PICK YOUR OWN!  This is a great family activity. Parents save a few bucks off the cost of organic cherries and kids get to learn where food comes from. U-Pick farms are a win-win-win! Find a good list of U-Pick Farms right here.  The U-Pick idea is not limited to cherries!  Our local farmers offer dozens of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers just waiting for you to come by and harvest them!  You can't get any fresher than U-Pick! (Can you tell I am a big fan?)

Yield. A lug(full box) weighs 25 pounds and yields 8 to 12 quarts. An average of 17 1/2 pounds makes a 7 quart canner load (approx. 2 1/2 pounds per quart); 11 pounds makes 9 pints. An average of 1 3/8 pounds makes 1 pint of frozen cherries.

Cherries are "stone fruit" which means they have pits that make them tricky to eat and cook with. Get the right tool for the job--a Cherry Stoner. This gadget only costs a few bucks and will save you about $1,000 worth of frustration!.

Fresh cherries are very perishable! Leave the stems on, they help keep the juice in, Keep cherries uncovered in the coolest part of the refrigerator and they will last up to 10 days. Of course, an open container of cherries makes them a very easy snack, so don't expect any of them to actually stay in the fridge that long!

Wash fruit. Cut in half and remove pits. Cherries can be dried safely without any pretreatment, but pretreating may preserve the natural color and speed drying.

To pretreat: Ascorbic acid, available at drug stores, may be used. Prepare a solution of 1 to 2 1/2 teaspoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals to 1 quart cold water. Vitamin C tablets can be crushed and used (six 500 milligram tablets equal 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid). One cup treats about 5 quarts of cut cherries. Dip cut cherries in ascorbic acid solution. Soak for a few minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and drain well. Commercial antioxidant mixtures are not as concentrated as ascorbic acid but are more readily available in grocery stores.

Arrange fruit on drying trays in single layers, pit cavity up. Cherries will dry in 24 to 36 hours in a dehydrator, in the sun from 12 hours to four or five days, and in the oven from six to 24 hours. Properly dried cherries are leathery and shriveled.

Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit. Wash, pit, and drain well. Puree cherries in blender. Sweetener may be added in the form of honey, or sugar. Honey is best for long storage because it doesn’t crystallize. Sugar is good for immediate use or short storage. Sweeten to taste.  Bring cherry puree to a boil. Line a plate or cookie sheet with edges with plastic wrap. Smooth out the wrinkles. Pour the pureed fruit onto the cookie sheet in a 1/4 inch thick layer. Spread evenly.
  • To dry in an oven- Place the tray on the center rack in an oven at lowest setting and prop oven door slightly open. Approximate drying time may be up to 18 hours.
  • To dry in a dehydrator- Use specially designed dehydrator trays or plastic trays. Line with plastic wrap. Pour pureed fruit on the trays in a 1/8 inch thick layer. Spread evenly. Approximate drying time is 6-8 hours.
  • Leather that is dry can be easily pulled from the plastic wrap. Fruit leather can be left on plastic or pulled from plastic wrap while still warm. Cool and re-wrap in plastic if needed.
Dried cherries and cherry fruit leather should be used within 1-2 years.

There are several ways to pack cherries for freezing. The best method selected will depend on how you want to use the frozen product.
  • Sugar pack. Mix 2/3 cup sugar per quart of sour cherries; or 1/3 cup sugar per quart of sweet cherries. To package, fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch from top. If pint or quart freezer bags are used, fill to within 3/4 inches from the top. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal and label.
  • Unsweetened pack. Without liquid or sweetening, pack cherries into containers to within 1/2 inch from top. If pint or quart freezer bags are used, fill to within 3/4 inches from the top. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal and label. The fruit may be sweetened at the time of serving.
  • Loose cherry pack. Spread whole sweet cherries in a single layer on shallow trays or cookie sheets and freeze. Remove and quickly package in labeled freezer bags or containers removing as much air as possible from containers. Seal and return promptly to freezer.
  • Syrup pack. A light syrup is recommended for sweet cherries and medium syrup for sour cherries. Allow 1/2 to 2/3 cup of syrup for each pint of fruit.

Frozen cherries should be used within 1 year.

Note the clever use of Tattler Re-Usable Lids!
Wash jars. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.

Prepare sugar syrup, if needed:
  • Sugar Syrup Recipes
  • Light: 1.5 cups sugar to 5.75 cups water
  • Medium: 2.25 cups sugar to 5.25 cups water (recommended for sweet cherries)
  • Heavy: 3.25 cups sugar to 5 cups water (recommended for Sour Cherries)

Stem and wash cherries. Remove pits if desired. If pitted, place cherries in water containing ascorbic acid to present stem-end discoloration (1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid or 3 grams in 1 gallon water). If canned unpitted, pricking skins on opposite sides with a clean needle will prevent splitting. Cherries may be canned in water, apple juice, white grape juice, or syrup. If syrup is desired, select and prepare preferred type as directed above. Medium syrup works well for sweet cherries and heavy syrup for sour cherries.
   Hot pack– In a large saucepan add 1/2 cup water, juice, or syrup for each quart of drained fruit and bring to a boil. Fill sterilized jars with cherries and cooking liquid, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe the sealing edge of the jar with a clean, damp paper towel. Adjust lids. Process in a Boiling Water Bath: 10 Minutes for pint jars or 15 minutes for quart jars. Turn off heat at the end of processing and allow the kettle to sit for an additional 5 minutes before removing jars.
   Raw pack– Add 1/2 cup hot water, juice, or syrup to each jar. Fill jars with drained cherries, shaking them down gently as filled. Add more hot liquid, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe the sealing edge of the jar with a clean, damp paper towel. Adjust lids.  Process in a Boiling Water Bath: 20 Minutes for pint jars or quart jars. Turn off heat at the end of processing and allow the kettle to sit for an additional 5 minutes before removing jars.

Canned cherries should be used within 18 months.

This thickened cherry product is great for a lot more than pies!
  • Stir a couple of tablespoons into yogurt
  • Add to milk or kifir to make a smoothy
  • Spoon over ice cream
  • Add to homemade cheesecake
  • use as a topping for pound cake
  • make cherry shortcake(instead of strawberry shortcake)
Makes 1 quart -- Recipe may be multiplied as needed
  • 3.3 cups of fresh or frozen sweet cherries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (If using Sour Cherries, increase sugar to 1 cup.)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon ClearJel® Corn Starch
  • Cold water 1-1/3 cups
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8th teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract(traditional but optional)
  • 6 drops red food coloring(optional)

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water. To prevent stem end browning, use ascorbic acid solution. For fresh fruit, place in 3.5 cup batches into 1/2 gallon boiling water. Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain but keep heated in a covered bowl or pot. Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large saucepan and add water. If desired, add cinnamon, almond extract, and food coloring. Stir mixture and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1 inch headspace. This will fill 1 quart jar or 2 pint jars, or 4 half-pint jars. Adjust lids and process immediately. Processing time in a Boiling Water Bath is 25 minutes, plus 5 minutes of rest in the hot water before removing the jars.

Note: ClearJel® Corn Starch is the only type of starch thickener that may be used in home canning. It is available online or at Goods For The Planet in Seattle.

Cherry Juice
4 quarts (4 pounds) cherries
3 to 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Bring cherries and 4 quarts water to a simmer in a large pot. DO NOT BOIL. Simmer 5 minutes, or until most cherries burst. Pour berries and juice into damp jelly bag or a colander lined with four layers of clean cheesecloth. Let juice drip into a large bowl. DO NOT squeeze the bag. When you have extracted as much juice as possible from the pulp, return pulp to pot with 2 quarts water. Simmer 2 minutes. Pour this pulp and juice through jelly bag again to extract remaining juice. Place the 2 batches of juice in a large pot. Add sugar to suit your taste and 1 more quart water. Heat to dissolve sugar completely, but do not boil. Quickly pour into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal. Process in Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.

Yields 6 to 7 quarts.

Chilli Cherry Sauce
Great as a sauce for roasted pork as well as a topper for morning toast!
1 pound cherries, pitted
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup raw sugar

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and gently simmer for 1/2 hour. Take off the heat and mash with a potato masher. Set back on heat and simmer for another15 minutes, stirring constantly.

Note: This sauce can be bottled and kept in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.

To can - pour boiled sauce into sterilized pint or half-pint jars leaving 1/2 headspace. Adjust lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes. Be sure to label before tucking this away in the pantry.

Homemade Maraschino Cherries
These frighteningly red cherries are super sweet and slightly salty.
  • 5 pounds cherries, pitted
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tbls salt
  • 1 tsp alum
  • 10 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbls red food coloring
  • 2 tbls almond extract

Bring water, alum and salt to a boil. Add cherries and soak overnight .

The next morning, drain the cherries and rinse in cold water.

Combine cherries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and red coloring. Heat to boiling point. Let stand for 24 hours.

Remove the cherries and again boil the juices. Pour over the cherries and let stand for another 24 hours. Bring to boil again.

Remove the cherries again and boil the juices. Add almond extract. Pack cherries into sterilized jars  and fill the jars with juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.

Brandied Sweet Cherries
  • 3 pounds cherries, pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • brandy
Combine the cherries and sugar in a large saucepan. Let stand for 2 hours. Cover and cook over low heat 25 minutes, stirring often. Remove the cherries from the syrup. Bring the syrup back to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Measure the syrup and add 1/3 cup brandy for each cup of syrup. In the saucepan combine the syrup and the cherries. Bring to the boil. Spoon into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch space at the top before placing the lids on. Place in a Boiling Water Bath for 30 minute.

Store for at least 2 months before serving.

Cherry Balsamic Sauce
Serve with grilled meat, poultry, or fish.  
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped  sweet cherries
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved  sweet cherries

Mix vinegar and olive oil; reduce mixture to 1/2 cup.  Add chopped cherries, mustard, sugar, herbs, salt, and pepper; simmer 10 minutes.  Reserve half of sauce for marinade.  Add halved cherries to remaining sauce; return mixture to a boil and simmer about 1 minute.  Pour into sterilized half-pint or pint jars. Apply lids and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 5 minutes.

Cherry Cordial
  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1/2 cup brandy
Coarsely chop the cherries in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or chop with a knife. Stir the cherries and sugar in a large bowl until the cherries are well coated. Stir in the remaining ingredients until blended. Pour the mixture into a large glass jar, cover, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month, stirring or shaking the jar every few days.

Before serving, strain the liquid from the cranberries through a fine strainer or dampened cheesecloth. It may be stored tightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 months. Refrigerate it for longer storage. Makes about 4 cups.

Canning Basics: Jarology

While canning lids come in just 2 sizes, standard and wide mouth, canning jars come in many different shapes and sizes which leads to the question, "Why so many jars?"

And the answer is, different foods like different jars.

Breaking jars into the two main categories and discussing by size, here are my recommendations for what jars to use for what applications.

Standard Mouth Jars. 

These jars take the smaller of the two lid sizes and are usually straight sided until the 16 ounce size which has "shoulders". The replacement lids and rings are slightly lower in price so over the long run, it is cheaper to can in the standard mouth jars.

2 ounce--Great for powerful goodies like Bacon Jam or Plum Marinade. Also good for dry spice rubs and other special seasonings.

4 ounce--For Jams, Jellies, Marinades, Hot Sauces and Salsas.

8 ounce(half-pint)--Jams, Jellies, Salsas, Fruit Butters, Relish, Tomato Paste, Pizza Sauce and single servings of fruit(to pack in lunches).

12 ounce Quilted Crystal--Jams and Jellies, Pickled Asparagus, Pickled Beans and other pickles prepared in long slim sticks.

16 ounce(pint)--Usually this is the smallest size of jar that has "shoulders" which are useful to help hold fruits and vegetables, that might tend to float, under the level of the liquid. Use these jars for apricot halves, plum halves, tiny pickled whole peppers, brandied fruits, spiced apples, tomato sauce, fruit spreads for larger families.

32 ounce(quart) --Whole & Chopped Fruits, apple sauce, dill pickles, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates, pie filling.

Wide Mouth Jars. 
These jars take the larger of the two lid sizes. The lids for these jars are slightly more expensive but these jars are easier to fill without making a mess and are very desirable in cases where food is to be "arranged" as it is put into the jars. Also in most cases, wide mouth jars are as comfortable in the freezer as they are in the pantry and can be used as a replacement for plastic containers.

8 ounce(Freezer-Safe)-- Frozen Soups, Canned Relish and Sauces.

16 ounce(Freezer-Safe) Thick Sauces, like Apple Butter, that will be spread with a butter knife. Frozen Soup for 2 people.

32 ounce-- Whole & Chopped Tomatoes, Pickles.

64 ounce(half-gallon) Fruit Juices, Fermenting, Dry Goods Storage.

Special Jars
These, rather expensive, jars are great for gift-giving.

"Elite Platinum" 4 ounce(half-pint)-- Dipping Sauce, Pesto, Jams & Jellies to be given as gifts.

"Elite Platinum" 8 ounce(pint)--Hostess Gifts of Homemade Pickles & Sauces.

Fancy Pantry: Bloody Mary Supplies

One Quart of Bloody Mary Mix*:

Prepare tomato juice-
3 Pounds of red ripe tomatoes, stewed and strained through a fine sieve to make 4 cups of tomato juice

Measure the following into a clean 1 quart canning jar:
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste (Make and use your own!)
  • 1 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 Fill jar with prepared tomato juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process jar in a Boiling Water Bath for 35 minutes.

Note: Horseradish loses it's heat over time so use this mix within a month or so. * Recipe adapted from Emeril's Bloody Mary Mix

Bloody Mary Pickle Mix
Into a 12 Ounce Quilted Jar:
  • 10 green beans, cut to fit
  • 4-6 small cauliflower florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cut into rings
  • 1 teaspoon of white or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed or dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Fill jar half full of vinegar(5% acidity) top up with clean tap water, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.

Bloody Marys

When ready to serve, fill each glass with ice.

Add 1 ounce of vodka to each glass, then fill the glass with Bloody Mary Mix. Stir well and garnish with pickled green beans, and skewered cauliflower & jalapenos. Add other garnish as desired and call it a Liquid Salad!