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Country Canning Corner

James R. Coffey

Abundance: the inner peace that abounds when we gaze at our overflowing gardens and our stocked pantries and freezers. Canning is simple - we can all learn to preserve and savor nature's bounty!

Maryland Food Preservation expert James R. Coffey has been canning and preserving food for over 25 years.

Author of the book, “Country Canning Cookbook”, he has been described as a “farm-wife” type canner. Mr. Coffey has revised many older methods and recipes to current health and safety standards, and will be sharing them through this blog.

Please send in your food preservation questions and recipes! We reserve the right to update recipes, if needed.

It’s Time to Can Soup and Chili

by J.R. Coffey

It is hard to believe another canning season will soon be over.  This is the best time of year to can soups to have for the Winter ahead.  Hunters will soon be going out and I have included directions on how to can beef or venison.  All of these make for quick meals.  Just heat and serve.  You also do not have to worry if the power goes off and losing your food.  I will give you some general information for all of the recipes that will follow:

General Directions for Soups

1). I prefer to make my broth or stock the day before.  This allows you to skim off the excess fat and discard it or use it for soap.  Some fat should be left in, but too much will prevent jars from sealing.

2). Prepare all vegetables just as you would to cook.  Peel and chop or dice every vegetables.  String and cut or break green beans, shell limas or peas, cut corn off of cob etc.  Some of this can be done the day before and items refrigerated to finish the next day.  Soup spoils easily so work with help or in amounts you can do quickly.

3). Leave 1” headspace in all jars.  Clean jar rims and seal.  Failure to clean jar rims can result in seal failure.

In a Cucumber Pickle

By James R. Coffey

I hope everyone had a good Winter and Spring season.  It is hard to believe another canning season has arrived.  It seems like everyone at some time has a glut of cucumbers and the recipes that follow are some of my favorite ways to preserve them.

Bread and Butter Pickle

This is a recipe I have won a Blue Ribbon on at Cecil County Fair.

3 pounds medium size cucumbers

2 large white onions, sliced
½ large red pepper, washed, seeded and choppe
2 T. canning salt
1 ¼ C. cider vinegar
1 ¼ C. sugar
1 ½ t. mustard seed
1 t. turmeric
1/8 t. ground cloves

Wash cucumbers and cut off and discard a thin slice from each end.  Slice cucumbers as thin as possible, either by hand or use a food processor.  Layer cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt in a bowl.  Let stand for 1 hour.  Drain vegetables and rinse in cold water.  Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in large kettle and bring to a boil.  Add vegetables and heat, but do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Pack pickles into clean jars, leaving ½ “ headspace.  Wipe jar rims.  Seal.Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.Makes 4 pts.

Let’s Can Apples

by JR Coffey

The smell of cooking apples seem to say Fall.  It is that smell and taste that we want to capture in the canning jar.  I believe Fall is one of the busiest times in regard to canning and preserving.  Many fruits are in during the Fall season, including grapes, apples, pears, plums and figs.  Let’s get started canning! 

The varieties of apples are endless.  I prefer Golden Delicious to can for Baking, Ginger Gold for Apple Chutney, Winesaps, Grimes Golden or my favorite Northern Spy for applesauce and apple butter.  The early apples such as Summer Rambo and Transparent are good for sauce and cooking as well.  I use the same apples for pies as for sauce.

Apples for Baking

1 gallon apples, peeled and quartered

1 C. sugar

1 t. Fruit Fresh

Mix sugar and fruit fresh and sprinkle over apples.  Cover and let stand overnight.  Next morning, pack apples into clean jars, leaving ¾” headspace.  Add hot water to juice left in container and dissolve sugar and divide liquid among the jars.  Add more water to fill jars to within ¾” headspace.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process (cold pack) 5 to 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  Do half gallon jars 15 minutes.  Do not process too long or they will turn to sauce instead.  Golden Delicious are excellent canned this way.

A slight variation is to use 2 to 3 pounds sugar for a 5 gallon container of prepared apples.  To serve, put your apples in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with about ¼ C. brown sugar and dot with about 1 or 2 T. butter.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 60 minute.

Apple Pie Filling

Please see Peach column for my pie filling to can recipe.  Just add 1 T. ground cinnamon per double batch of glaze for each ½ bushel of apples.  This will can 14 to 16 quarts each time.  You could add some apple pie spice (1 to 2 t.) instead of or in addition to the cinnamon.  Some also like about a teaspoon of vanilla as well in apple pie filling.

Let’s Can Tomatoes

by James R. Coffey

It is hard to believe August is here and Fall is around the corner.  Hopefully everyone is stocking their canning shelves with food for the coming Winter season.  This article will deal with several ways to preserve tomatoes by canning, juices, soup and sauces.  I am hearing that tomatoes are very plentiful so let’s start canning them.  Several sources for canning supplies are your local Walmart, Good’s Store in Quarryville, PA. And also Byler’s Store in Dover, DE.  Check at also local hardware and also within your bulk food stores if you are near an Amish/Mennonite community.

Plain Solid Pack Tomatoes

Peel, core and remove hard green spots.  Leave whole, halve or quarter.  Pack tightly into clean jars, pressing down so juice will cover them.  Leave 1” headspace.  Add NO water! Add 1 t. canning salt to a quart or ½ t. canning salt to a pint.  Add also ½ t. citric acid to each quart or ¼ t. citric acid to a pint. If you do not have citric acid use: 2 T. Realemon juice to a quart or 1 T. Realemon juice to a pint.  You may add also ½-1 t. sugar if you desire as well.  Do not omit either the citric acid or the lemon juice in any canned tomato recipe.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods below:

Hot Water Bath: Pints: 20 minutes; Quarts and Half Gallons: 30 minutes.

Pressure Canner: Pints and Quarts: 15 minutes at 5 pounds pressure or 10 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.  Half Gallons should be fine for the same time.

The USDA recommends all raw packed tomatoes be processed 85 minutes in the boiling water bath.  This is overkill in my opinion and results in mush.  My time follows the old recommendations and that in other areas of the United States.  Be sure not to can a low acid tomatoes.  I always use a high acid type to can.  For easy peeling, wash tomatoes and drop in boiling water.  Leave ½ minutes.  Remove and put in cold water.  Leave about 30 seconds and the skins will slip off.  I like mine still warm to peel quick. For all raw packed cold tomatoes, I have cold water in my canner and I do not time it until the water is at a rolling boil.  For all hot packed jars, use hot water.  If you forget, you will have broken jars either way.

Let's Can Peaches II

Recipes by James R Coffey

Peach Pie Filling

4 to 6 quarts prepared fruit, as for canning

2 C. Clear Jell (Check at Amish Bulk Food Stores or on line)

2 C. cold water

7 C. sugar

1 t. canning salt

6 C. water

Mix clear jell and 2 C. cold water until smooth.  Combine the sugar, salt and remaining  6 C. water and  bring to a boil.  Add clear jell mixture and cook until thick and clear.  Add fruit.  Fill jars, leaving 1 to 1 ½ inches of headspace.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods given below:

Water Bath (pints and quarts): 30 minutes

Pressure Canner: (pints and quarts): 10 minutes at 5 pounds pressure.

I only can Fruit Pie Fillings in my pressure canner as I feel it makes mush of fruit otherwise.  I use this for Peaches, Apples (add 1 to 2 t. cinnamon), Blueberries, Cherries (can add red coloring and a little almond flavoring, if desired), Blackberry, Apricot and other berries.

Let’s Get Peachy! Canning Peaches Volume 1

by James R. Coffey

It is hard to believe, but fresh peaches are starting to show up in markets and probably will be early due to all of the warm weather we have had here this year.  My next several articles will be on preserving peaches in several different ways.  I hope to do one on tomatoes as well as we approach August and September.  Some of my favorite varieties are Red Haven, Sun High, Loring, and Elberta.  I would say my absolute favorite is Red Haven.  I call them “If-y Stone Peaches!”.  The reason is sometimes they are freestone and sometimes they want to cling to the stone and they have to be cut off, but no other compares for flavor and the ability not to darken. 

There are several methods of preserving peaches.  I prefer canning them.  Freezing is easy as well.  Just peel, pit, slice and sprinkle a little sugar on them and add a little Fruit Fresh according to package directions and freeze.  Red Haven will really keep their color.  You can also grind them, add the Fruit Fresh and freeze in recipe amounts for jams, cakes and other uses.

Canning is my absolute favorite way to preserve fresh peaches.  Peaches are also high in acid and need a very short processing time as compared to low acid food.  It should be one of the first can items for a novice.  Peaches can be canned and sweetened several different ways.  I will give all that I know as well as how to use agave nectar as well.

How to Can Peaches

Peel, cut in half, and remove pits.  Save peeling and pits later for making jelly.  This is why I do not like to scald the peaches and I feel it makes them slimy and harder to peel.  Pack peaches, raw, cavity side down into clean jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Follow directions below as to how to sweeten and finish:

Direct Sugar Method: Add ¼ to ½ C. granulated sugar to each quart.  Some adds up to 2/3 C., but I feel the lesser amount is better.  Fill jar to the neck with cold water.  (This is about 1 inch headspace and is for all methods).  For pint jars, use half of these amounts of sugar.

Recipes for Strawberry Jam, Frozen Strawberries, Strawberry Lemonade, Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam and More

by JR Coffey, author of Country Canning and Country Canning II

Preserved Strawberries 1
Cap, wash and weight strawberries. For every pound of strawberries, use one pound of sugar. It is best to cook one quart at a time. Combine berries and sugar. Let stand
several hours, then bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Skim as needed. Remove from fire and plump overnight. Pour hot preserves in a shallow pan and allow to cool.
Shake pan occasionally. Cover with plastic wrap when cool. This makes the strawberries plump up and absorb the syrup. Next morning, pack cold preserves into jars.
Wipe jar rims, seal and process at 180 to 190 for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow water to boil or berries will shrink considerably.


Preserved Strawberries 2
Use firm, ripe whole berries. Scald 2 full heaping quarts, leaving them in boiling water 2
minutes. Drain and add 4C. sugar. Boil 2 minutes, counting the time after the entire
contents of pan are bubbling. Remove from fire and after bubbling has stopped, add 2
more C. sugar. Boil 5 minutes. Pour into shallow pans so preserves are not over 1 12"
deep. Let stand overnight. Cover with plastic wrap when cool. Shake the shallow pan
frequently so berries will plump and absorb the syrup. Can as directed in Recipe 1.
Makes 5 to 6 half pints.

How to Can Asparagus

by James R. Coffey

Enjoy Spring Asparagus throughout the year! More recipes are available from my two books, Country Canning and Country Canning II.

Remove scales from stalks and wash. Cut in jar length pieces. You can process cut asparagus pieces separately. Do not can the tough bottom part of the spear. Pack jar, add salt and water to fill jar. One most vegetables and meats I use 1/2 t. canning salt to each pint or 1 t. canning salt to each quart. Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods below:


Water Bath: 2 1/2 hours (pints and quarts)
Pressure Canner: pints: 25 minutes; quarts: 35 minutes at 10 to 11 pounds pressure Some do pints 2 hours, quarts 3 hours in water bath or pints 30 minutes, quarts 40 minutes in a pressure canner. Both methods work and keep well.

Pickled Asparagus by the Jar (Dill Type)
Remove tough ends and scales. Wash asparagus. Prepare jars and lids. It will take 1 to 2 pounds of asparagus for each jar. Use pints or quarts. Cut asparagus to fit jar. Leave 1" headspace. To each jar, add as directed below:

Canning Blackberries and Corn and Beans - Oh My!

By James R. Coffey

My! How fast Summer is flying by and how quickly the busy part of canning and freezing are fast under way. I have had request for blackberry recipes and I will add several vegetables that are in season as well.

In this post – Canning:

Blackberry Jelly,  Jam, & Blackberry Preserves!

Green Beans     Sweet Corn

If you need instructions on HOW to can, refer to earlier blog posts!

Making Bread Spreads Using Commercial Pectin - Multiple Recipes!

by James R. Coffey
Spring is the time to make delicious, easy fruit spreads that will preserve the flavor of spring all year! First, I'll teach you how to make your own spreads - then share many fantastic recipes! This column includes recipes for Cranberry Apple Jelly, Pomegranate Jelly, Dandelion Jelly, Rhubarb Jelly, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Blueberry Rhubarb Jam and More!

General Directions For Making Bread Spreads Using Commercial Pectin

Wash and rinse jars (this can be done using a dishwasher). Prepare canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Measure sugar and set aside for later use. This is where the two pectin methods now change.

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