Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Canning Series - Fruit

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.

Cranberry Juice

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.  :)


  1. Canning and dehydrating are always a nice, but messy chore here in Coopville! Why does it always seem like it's the hottest day of the year when the tomatoes just have to be done??? You mentioned rhubarb - oh, how I could go for a piece of rhubarb pie RIGHT now!

  2. Chickenmom...I wish I were one of those tidy folks who is able to can 40 lbs. of tomatoes and have their kitchen slick and clean. Me...looks more like a ketchup factory blew up.

    Rhubarb pie...haven't tasted one of those lovely creations for years. Mother used to make one with a meringue topping like a lemon pie. And then there was
    Auntie Hazel's rhubarb coffee cake. Darn! I wonder where I can find rhubarb in March in Minnesota.

  3. Just looked into my side yard and the rhubarb is about 3-inches tall. Can't wait!! I have two 5-gallon buckets that it's growing in. Easy to grow in containers and only needs partial sunshine. It would be happier in full sun but I don't have that.
    I too make a sauce for ice cream. I freeze mine but I'm sure it could be canned - cook rhubarb in a scant amount of water until just tender. Add orange juice and sugar to taste. Cinnamon some times. Also orange zest if I'm organized enough to have an orange. Cook until rhubarb is tender and the sauce thickens a bit. Stir constantly once you've added the sugar - yes, this is a bit fiddly at the end but worth the effort.
    I also have a rhubarb gingerbread recipe. It's made in a 9X9 pan with a batter like a coffee cake with chunks of rhubarb and ginger/cinnamon.
    SJ in Vancouver BC

  4. SJ...I didn't know rhubarb could be grown in containers. What a good idea! Time was every back yard garden and every farmstead had a rhubarb patch. Not so much these days. I have to get mine at the Farmers Market.

    Your rhubarb/orange sauce sounds wonderful. I will give it a try when I can get my hands on fresh rhubarb. I think it could be canned the same way my strawberry rhubarb sauce is canned.

    Will you share your recipe for rhubarb gingerbread? That sounds so good and I'll bet my family would really like it - me too.

    When you talked of raising rhubarb in buckets, it got me thinking about how far away so many have gotten from raising their own food. When I was a kid my Dad bought 20 acres with a big, old farmhouse on it that had been part of a large family farm. There was a huge garden plot and along one side was a row of rhubarb plants and next to those was an asparagus bed. A little off to one side was a small apple orchard with probably a dozen trees, including a crabapple tree. I can't hardly find crabapples any more. I know that it seems the homesteading thing is gaining in popularity these days, but back then our little country home with the garden and orchard was the norm. Sad that we don't see much of that any more.

    I realize I am a fine one to talk as I am not in a position to raise my food, but still, I would love to see a resurgence of that kind of lifestyle. Life was a lot less complicated then.

  5. Deb...You are welcome. I hope you find something useful.

  6. I was first introduced to rhubarb when the house I was living in had a huge rhubarb plant growing on the shady side of the house. I was also unemployed at the time and money was really tight. So I learned to use it in sauces and fell in love with it.
    When I moved to this apartment, I dug up the rhubarb and brought it with me. It has done well in the 5-gallon buckets. I side dress the plants each spring with compost and they are growing well. Not as big as when the were in the ground, but doing well enough to keep me in rhubarb.
    SJ in Vancouver BC

  7. SJ...I think if I can get my hands on some rhubarb plants, it would be worthwhile trying to grow it the way you do. As a kid, we had maybe half a dozen big plants growing by the garden. We canned rhubarb sauce and rhubarb jam, made rhubarb pies and cakes, and then we cut it up, packed it into plastic bags and froze it. It irritates me now end to have to buy the stuff now when it used to be so plentiful. :)

    Thanks for another good idea.