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The bounty of Summer has begun to overwhelm our gardens and refrigerators and the opportunity to preserve has arrived. Canning is a wonderful and almost alchemical way to capture this bounty and enjoy it throughout the year. There is nothing quite like cracking open a jar of jam in the heart of winter and remembering the warmth and abundance of summertime, tasting its sweetness.
For those of you who have never canned before, now is the perfect time to start! Here are a few easy recipes. Start small, that way you'll remember the experience fondly and want to do it again. As you get more comfortable with the technique, you can explore new recipes and greater quantities. You can do it, and you will feel the absolute delight of knowing you've filled your pantry with homemade delicacies. The real trick is waiting to crack open the jars, but I have no good advice on that front.
You will need the following equipment:
5 pint jars
6 half pint jars
New jar lids and rings (the rings do not have to be new) to match the jars
1 large pot big enough to fit 5 jars in a single layer and allowing for 2” of room for water above them
Canning tongs, or regular tongs if you don’t have them
You can find all of this equipment at True Value Eugene
Before you start, wash the jars and lids with warm soapy water and rinse well.
3 pounds green or yellow string beans, washed, tops removed and cut to fit in the jar, leaving 1 “ of headspace
5 cloves garlic
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp dill seeds
1 bunch fresh dill
2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
4 tbsp pickling salt
2 tbsp sugar
Prepare a boiling water bath and place 5 pint jars in it. Place the lids in a small saucepan over low heat to simmer while you prepare the pickles. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. While the pickling liquid heats, pack the beans, dill, garlic and spices into all of the jars, distributing evenly, take time to pack them in as tight as possible. Pour the hot brine into all of the jars, and use a chopstick to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim with a clean paper towel and carefully apply the sterilized lids securing them in place with the rings.
Process the jars in the hot water bath (which should maintain and gentle boil) for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and let them sit undisturbed on a flat surface until you hear them pop and they cool completely. Store in a cool dark place for up to a year. Wait at least one week before opening a jar.
For Berry Jam
2 ¼ lb fresh berries (blueberries, black berries, whatever!)
3 cups granulated sugar
Juice from 2 lemons
In a large stock pot, combine the berries, sugar and lemon just and bring them to a boil, skimming any brownish foam off of the top. Cook over high heat for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Chop one whole apple into 1” cubes, including the core, tie it up with cheesecloth and cook it with your berries. When you are done cooking, remove the apple in the cheesecloth and discard it.
Carefully ladle the hot jam into the warm sterilized jars, leaving ¼ “ of headspace, I like to use the canning funnel while doing this to avoid spilling any of the jam. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp towel and close the jars with sterilized lids, securing them in place with the lid rings. Place them in a single layer in your water bath, making sure they are fully submerged by at least two inches. Bring the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Use canning tongs to lift the jars out of the water and allow them to cool in a protected spot until they pop. Check the seals on all of the jars. If a jar did not seal properly, place them in the fridge for more immediate consumption. Sealed jars will last well in a cool dark place for over a year!
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