I let you in on my “freezer addiction” in my previous A Hunk, A Hunk of Freezin’ Love blog post. When summer is in full swing, however, I also bring out the canning jars and start jammin’. Jams and jellies, chutney, pickles & pickle relish, tomatoes, and of course, applesauce. I LOVE to can. In fact, it feels so good, I call it Canning Therapy!
My friend Gwen encouraged me to start canning in the early 1980s when we were neighbors in Beaverton, Oregon. She had made strawberry jam and apricot jam, and assured me, “It’s easy!” and that I could do the same. I did – and that was the beginning of a forty year summer romance with canning.
My grandmother, Flo, was a very good cook. Like most women of her era, she spent considerable time in the kitchen preparing food for her family and “putting up” fresh food for the winter months. She never had a wonderful large freezer or a grocery with year ’round fresh produce like I have. My Mom remembered her strawberry jam as delicious.
My Dad loved to garden, and although my Mom didn’t LOVE to can, she made valiant efforts to keep up with his mountains of produce. I learned to use a pressure canner with her to process his tomatoes, corn and green beans. Her best product to me – and my family and friends – was her Pickle Relish. I still use her recipe, with only a small addition of turmeric for color. (Recipe below photos)
Betty’s Pickle Relish
- 2 quart cucumbers (6 pounds)
- 3 cups green peppers
- 1 1/2 cups red peppers
- 4 cups onions
- 3 tbsp salt
- 6 cups white vinegar
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 4 tbsp yellow mustard seed
- 2 tsbp celery seed
- Coarse chop all vegetables in a food processor. Mix with the salt and add to large colander. Place colander over a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let drain overnight.
- In a large dutch oven or stock pan, combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, mustard seeds & celery seeds. Simmer 10 minutes, or until dissolved.
- Add vegetables to simmering spices and simmer 20 minutes.
- Pack in sterilized canning jars and seal with lid and ring. Water bath process for 5 minutes.
Another summer tried and true is the Hoosier Peach Jam that I made and served at our Main Street Bed & Breakfast in the late 80s-early 90s. I ran across a recipe for a peach jam that had once won a blue ribbon at the Indiana State Fair. It made a large quantity and had a lovely lemony taste. Amazing on croissants or biscuits!
When we were featured in Colonial Homes Magazine in 1988, they included the recipe. The magazine made one crucial change in the printed recipe that caused great angst among those who tried it. #jamdidnotgel They correctly stated to add pectin at the end of the cooking process, but they suggested adding a box of powdered pectin. If you make jam, you know that powdered pectin goes in the recipe at the beginning, not the end. If the recipe says the pectin is to be added at the end, it should be the liquid pectin. So… here’s the Hoosier Peach Jam recipe with the original/accurate directions. You won’t be sorry if you try it!
Hoosier Peach Jam
- 6 pounds peaches fully ripe
- 1 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 15 cups granulated sugar
- 6 ounces liquid pectin (two 3 ounce packages, like Certo)
- Pit fruit, but DO NOT peel. Cut into small pieces and mash coarsely.
- Measure 8 cups mashed fruit into large dutch oven or stock pot. Add lemon juice and sugar, mixing well.
- Place pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in liquid pectin.
- Let mixture cool slightly, then ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Here are a few of the other items I’ve canned this summer: Honey Lemon Jelly, Cherry Chutney, Pepper Jelly, Tart Cherry Jam, Tomatoes, and Apricot Jam. I think the only thing left on my list to do this season is applesauce. Grandson Seamus is a huge fan.
There are several summer produce items that I do freeze. I’ve given away the pressure canner and embraced flash frozen fresh instead. For me, freezing these low acid veggies result in a more “fresh picked” color, flavor and texture.
Last weekend my husband, Ken, brought home a magazine he KNEW I’d like. Absolutely! The recipe for Herb Buttered Vegetables in the Better Homes & Gardens “Can It! Freeze It!” magazine appealed to me immediately.
So far this summer I’ve also made frozen Confetti Corn, Stir Fry Veggies, Cherry Tomatoes (for sauce), Creamed Corn, and Buttered Corn.
I roasted fresh cut corn in the oven for the Creamed Corn, but boiled & blanched the corn for the rest before cutting off the cob.
As you may remember, the Midwest had a tremendous amount of rain this spring and early summer. Many of our farmers weren’t able to get their crops in the fields. As a result, some of my usual roadside stands ran low on sweet corn at various times. Seems like I was always looking for corn! Luckily I found several dozen last weekend at Madison’s Farmers Market to finish my projects.
If you would like any of the other recipes for the canned or frozen foods I’ve mentioned in this post, just let me know. I’m happy to do another recipe post.
Years ago, my husband’s Aunt Stella gave me a box of old canning jars from the family farm. Gorgeous! Although I don’t use them to process food, I do use them in the kitchen for decoration and to hold a variety of things. They just feel like home to me. I guess they just remind me of the friends and family that have shared this food preservation culinary experience. #Blessed.