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Summertime season for canning

July 18, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Food editor ( , The Herald-Star

This is the time of year for a plentiful supply of fruit on the bush or tree and vegetables in the garden, if the deer don't get to it first, as has been the problem with many gardeners this year.

In olden days, homemakers were busy the entire summer putting veggies, fruit and even meat into canning jars, usually called Mason jars, although some did not bear that seal. It meant a supply of food for the winter on the pantry shelf. There were even root vegetables put into wooden crates in a cool part of the dirt-floor basement.

During World War II, there was a drive for Victory Gardens and the canning or preserving of all produce that could not be consumed before going to ruin. There was a saying, and I'm not sure of the exact wording but it went something like this: "Eat what you can and what you can't, then can."

Article Photos

The canned goods of Helen McDiffitt was on display at her 80th birthday party, along with food presentations, quilts, handmade doll clothing, a cookbook that she wrote and an apron display. Her specialty now is canning kidney beans.
-- Esther McCoy

With the high cost of groceries now, it would pay to preserve all the food that becomes available from farmers' markets, what's given by neighbors with an abundance or from your own garden.

Raspberries didn't fare too well this year, at least ours didn't. They dried on the vine, and some of the bushes even died. If you were lucky enough to pick some or buy several quarts at a low price, you might make some jam or jelly. It goes well with toast and hot chocolate in the cold winter months, too.

Here is a recipe for jelly and one for freezer jam. The recipes are from the Five Star Recipe Collection that I've had in my possession for nearly 25 years.

Raspberry Jelly

2 1/2 quarts fresh raspberries, red or black

1 3/4-ounce package powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

Soak and wash raspberries. Crush and press through several layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag, but who has a jelly bag these days? Extract 3 1/2 cups juice and combine this with the Sure-Jell or any fruit pectin that you desire. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a rapid boil and quickly adding sugar. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Pour hot jelly into hot, sterilized half pint or jelly jars to within 1/4-inch of the top. Wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes five half pints.

This jam is stored in the freezer after it is cooled to room temperature. If you have the freezer space, it's a good product to make as it has a fresh taste even after a few months in the freezer.

Raspberry Freezer Jam

1 1/2 quarts fresh raspberries

5 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

1 3/4-ounce package powdered pectin

Sort and wash raspberries, either red or black. Crush in small amounts to measure 3 cups. Combine 3 cups crushed berries and sugar in a large bow. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine water and pectin in a small saucepan, stirring well; bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add pectin mixture to berries mixture and stir for 3 minutes. Quickly pour jam into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cover at once with plastic lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Store in the freezer. Makes six 1/2 cups.

Orange marmalade and peanut butter taste wonderful together on toast. Florence Turnbull's sister, Hazel Merrill, taught me this combination when we drove to Wickliffe for a week's vacation each year.

This recipe is called Sunshine Marmalade, but it is quite like the sweet spread that I knew and loved many years ago.

Sunshine Marmalade

8 medium oranges

2 medium lemons

3 cups water

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups orange juice

6 cups sugar

Remove rind from four oranges and two lemons, using a sharp knife. Slice rind into thin strips; set rind strips aside. Peel and section oranges. Slice lemons; remove and discard seeds. Place orange sections and lemon slices in the container of an electric blender or food processor and puree. Cover and chill the mixture. Combine reserved rind strips, water and soda in a large non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Drain rind, discarding liquid. Return rind to saucepan; add orange juice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 8 hours in a cool place or the refrigerator. Strain rind, reserving liquid. Add enough reserved liquid to reserved puree to equal 6 cups. Combine rind, puree and sugar in a large non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and boil until mixture registers 220 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch head space; wipe jar rims. Cover with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Makes eight half pints.

My mother would take vegetables that were left in the garden after her actual canning season was over and put them together to make a relish that was great on sandwiches.

I recall fried bologna on homemade bread with the relish spread on top. Yummy. I don't know that I would appreciate it as much now, but it might trigger great childhood memories.

Garden Relish

3 cups corn cut from the cob, about 6 years

1 1/2 cups white vinegar, 5 percent acidity

1 1/4 cups chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped tomato

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup chopped yellow squash

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Pack hot mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles by running a knife around the inside rim of the jar. Cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Makes six half pints.

Pickles are a popular canning item. There are so many kinds to be made, such as bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, hot pickles, and here is a recipe for sweet pickles. The crushed ice keeps them crisp, and the vinegar/sugar solution gives them a sweet/sour flavor.

Sweet Pickle Chips

6 pounds small cucumbers

1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

1 onion, sliced and separated into rings

2 cloves garlic

3/4 cup pickling salt

2 quarts crushed ice

4 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups vinegar, 5 percent acidity

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers; trim ends. Cut cucumbers into 1/4-inch slices. Combine cucumber slices, red pepper, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Add salt and stir well. Pack crushed ice over cucumbers; cover and let stand 24 hours. I would put them in the refrigerator if possible. Drain well and rinse several times in cold water and drain well again. Remove and discard garlic. Pack cucumber mixture into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Combine sugar, vinegar and mustard seeds in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour over cucumber mixture in jars, leaving 1/2-inch head again. Wipe jar rims carefully and cover with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let cool completely. Makes eight pints.

You've heard of apple butter, now here is pear butter, with the same spicy taste and texture.

Spiced Pear Butter

6 pounds ripe pears, about 16 large, peeled, cored and chopped

3 cups apple juice

4 3-inch sticks cinnamon, broken into pieces

1-ounce sliced fresh ginger root

12 whole allspice

8 whole cloves

3 cups sugar

Combine pears and apple juice in a large Dutch oven. Tie broken cinnamon sticks, ginger root, allspice and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth. Add to pear mixture. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pears are tender. Drain and discard spice bag.

Mash pears or puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return pear puree to Dutch oven and add sugar. Cool, uncovered, over medium heat 30 to 40 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rims. Cover with lids and put on bands. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Makes five half pints.

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