The best thing about canning is that its infinite and once you get hooked you’ll be looking for ways to can EVERYTHING!
In other words, you are going to get addicted so if you dont want this to happen STOP reading, click out of here, because once you are addicted thats it – you just have to try that new idea, that new recipe, someone gives you a ton of strawberries and you find yourself online figuring out how to make the best strawberry jam just like your grandma used to… Believe me, its never going to stop!
One of the easiest recipes to can when you are new is applesauce, and its cheap if you get the apples in season or off the tree. You cant go wrong with applesauce and thats why its a great place to start! If you cant get the apples, but have a plentiful supply of pears, just use those in the same way…Either way, the family is going to love it and you’ll get hooked 🙂
Water canning really is the best way to learn.
It’s slightly less intimidating than pressure canning, and you can pick up a water bath pretty cheaply, particularly if you hunt them out on craigslist, or second hand stores.
Here’s the best homemade applesauce recipe to start you on this addiction!
Firstly apples – the sweeter the better (sweeter means less additional sugar) but if you have sour then just add honey.
Cinnamon to taste.
Here are the instructions….
Fill your canner with water right away and get it boiling as soon as possible. Make sure you place the lid on top of the canner, as that will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes it to boil.
The jars first must be sterilized. I like to sterilize my jars right in the canner. You can also run them through a cycle in the dishwasher. They need to be heated for at least 10 minutes, completely submerged. Keep the jars in the hot water until you are ready to fill them– it’s important that they stay hot right up until the food is placed inside.
Gather all of your supplies and have them ready. Take inventory of your rings and lids, making sure you have matching sets of each. I also like to have a kitchen towel ready that I can place the hot jars on.
Fill a small saucepan with water and add your lids. They need to be heated to a simmer, but not a full boil. All you are doing is heating up the sealing compound so it’s pliable and sticky. You don’t have to put this on the stove until a bit later, but it’s best to have it ready.
Prep your fruit. If you are using pears, quarter them, core them, and remove any bad spots.
If you are using apples, you can peel them if you like, but it’s not necessary. You will want to core them and slice them more thinly than the pears so they don’t take forever to cook down.
Throw all of your prepped fruit into a large pot. Add just enough water to keep them from sticking to the pan. (Not too much, or your sauce will be on the runny side…) Cook the apples or pears until they are soft.
If you like thick, chunky sauce, use a fork or potato masher to mash the cooked fruit in the pot until it reaches the desired consistency. If you prefer your sauce smooth, then use a hand blender.
Bring the mashed/pureed sauce to a boil.
While you are waiting, remove the hot jars from the canner and place on the waiting towel. Also, now is a good time to bring those lids to a gentle simmer.
Carefully ladle the sauce into the hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.
1/2″ headspace means that the sauce will fill the jar only to the bottom of the “lip.” It allows for expansion/contraction, and sometimes the jars will not seal if the headspace is incorrect.
Wipe the rims with a damp cloth to remove any spilled sauce that might prevent the lid from sealing.
place the heated lids in the center of the jar.
Then, screw on the rings- finger tight only!
Lower them into the canner, making sure that the lids are covered with 1-2 inches of water. (You can add more water to the pot if you come up short.) Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes at a vigorous boil.
Keep in mind that you may have to adjust your processing time according to your altitude. (see http://canningblog.com/general/live-above-1000ft-make-these-altitude-adjustments/)
Don’t start timing until the water has returned to a boil.
After their time in the water bath is complete, pull them out and allow to cool. You should start hearing that happy “pop!” of a sealed lid.
Addicted yet? Enjoy everything you have made! And if something doesnt work out which inevitably it does, dont worry, pat yourself on the back for what you do know, take the new learning into the next canning episode, and bring the kids if you have any. Passing on the joy of canning is fantastic!
To check out more on this please go here: theprairiehomestead.com