Fruit doesn't need to be pressure canned. It can be canned using the Boiling Water Bath method, which is placing jars of fruit in a pot, adding enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch, bringing the water to a boil and boiling it for the required time. There should be a rack of some sort in the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching the bottom. I use my pressure canner with the rack that came with it. And I use the lid for it, but make sure it is set on top of the canner cattywampus so that it can not and does not slide all the way closed, thus building up unwanted pressure. How do I know about the lid? I'll tell you.
My Auntie Emily was cooking up a batch of vegetable soup prior to canning it, using the biggest pot she had, which was her pressure canner. She set the lid on the canner while the soup was simmering, but didn't pay attention how she set it there. The lid slipped down onto the rim of the canner and the pressure built up. And BLAM! She said she spent the rest of the day cleaning vegetable soup off the stove. And the walls. And the floor. And the cupboards. And the ceiling. Luckily, she was out of the room when the lid blew off. That is the one and only time I have ever known a lid to blow off a pressure canner and then it was only being used as a stock pot. If I am going to be out of the kitchen while the water is boiling to can fruit, I will put my largest cookie sheet on top of the canner instead of using the lid. Otherwise I use the lid set off center so it can't slip, but have learned to be careful and keep a close eye on it.
I'm not going to go into the basic canning of fruits. I usually can peaches, pears, apricots and cherries if I can get them at a decent price. All are canned in a simple sugar and water syrup or in plain water and are processed in a Boiling Water Bath. The directions typically come with the canner instruction booklet and there are a ton of websites with tutorials. One website I keep bookmarked is the "National Center for Home Food Preservation" which gives basic instructions.
I get cranberries in 25 lb. boxes from the Farmers Market. The vendor that sells them always has absolutely beautiful berries. Here are a couple of uses for them.
4 quarts (4 pounds) cranberries
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Bring cranberries and 4 quarts water to a simmer in a large pot. Simmer 5 minutes, or until most berries burst.
Pour berries and juice into a colander or large strainer set over a large pot or bowl. Let juice drip into the bowl.
When you have extracted as much juice as possible from the pulp, return pulp to the cooking pot with 2 quarts water. Return to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.
Pour this pulp and juice again through the colander to extract remaining juice. Combine both batches of juice.
At this point I will pour the juice through a colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. This gets rid of any remaining pulp.
Add sugar to suit your taste* and 1 more quart water. Heat to dissolve sugar completely, but do not boil.
Pour the juice into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and add lids and rings.
Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yields 6 to 7 quarts.
*The original recipe called for 3-1/2 cups of sugar but I found that was too sweet for my taste. 2-1/2 cups is just right for me, but you might want to adjust the amount according to your own tastes.
Note: My son usually gets 50 lbs. of berries at the Market. That's a lot of berries! So this year I measured them out into gallon freezer bags and froze them. That way I could take out a couple of bags at a time. I didn't thaw them but just poured them into a stock pot with the water and proceeded from there. It wasn't so overwhelming to process the berries a little at a time.
Cranberry Sauce - Fresh or to Can
(Recipe can be doubled, tripled or more.)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups cranberries (1 bag)
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour into jars. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims. Place lids on and can for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
This makes the kind of cranberry sauce that has pieces of cranberry in it. I have never made the jellied kind. I can these in half pint jars for my own use and in pint jars for when there are more people.
Applesauce is kind of a staple in my house. I like it with a meal or when I just want a bit of a snack. And I use it in cakes, cookies, muffins, etc. Sometimes I get apples from the Farmers Market and sometimes they come from a small apple orchard nearby that sells "seconds." The apples aren't pretty like the ones in the store. They may be odd shaped or have a blemish or two on the skin, but they are delicious.
I have one of these handy, dandy apple peeler/corer/slicer gadgets. Last I looked, they were about $20 at Fleet Farm. They are worth every penny.
I just run the apples through the gadget and put them in a stock pot with a little bit of water to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. They are cooked over a medium low heat until the slices are soft. I add sugar, either brown or white sugar to taste. The last applesauce I made didn't need sugar at all. I like applesauce that has chunks of apples in it. Son likes the smooth applesauce, so I make both. To make the applesauce smooth I just cool it down some and run it through the blender. I can most of it in half pint jars. That is a good amount for a meal for one and a good size for Son to take in his lunch. I also can some in pint jars and it can be canned in quarts as well. All three sized jars are processed in a Boiling Water Bath for 20 minutes.
Spiced applesauce can be made by adding allspice or cinnamon to taste along with the sugar. I have also taken some of the cranberry pulp left in the cheesecloth from straining cranberry juice and added that to the applesauce for a different flavor. Add the cranberry pulp and sugar to taste.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1-1/2 pounds rhubarb
4 cups strawberries
1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Thoroughly wash rhubarb and strawberries. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, making 5 cups.
Remove hulls from strawberries; halve large berries. In a large kettle or Dutch oven combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring fruit to boiling; boil 1/2 minute.*
Pack hot fruit and syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath (half-pints and pints) 15 minutes. Makes 7 half-pints. Recipe can be doubled.
*This recipe says cook for 1/2 minute, but I cooked it a little longer until the rhubarb had cooked down just a bit and was completely tender.
Note: Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce is good as a dessert sauce, but it is really good over vanilla ice cream.
And that is enough for today. :)
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