Ball Blue Book of Preserving, Ball Corporation, ©2008 Hearthmark LLC dba Jarden Home Brands, Daleville Ind. 47334
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Ball Corporation, ©2006 Jarden Corp. , ©2006 Robert Rose, Inc.
I love making my own jams, preserves, pickles, butters, sauces, relishes, salsa, etc. If you have never tried canning , be forewarned;
1. It is messy, time consuming, and hot.
2. It is easier to just pick up a jar of strawberry jam at the store.
3. It is not always cheaper in the long run, especially at the beginning when you have to purchase the equipment, canning tools, and jars.
However, the reason I like to preserve food myself is that I have control over what goes in the jar. Using basically sugar (or Splenda ), vinegar, lemon juice, herbs & spices, and lots of different fresh fruits and vegetables, I can fill my pantry with goodies that my family will love, and that I know are not pumped full of chemicals and preservatives. Mark especially likes the pickled Jardiniere (a mixture of peppers, pearl onions, cauliflower, celery, and other vegetables, e.g. mushrooms & zucchini, that you wish to add). For me, there is nothing as good as the bright sunny taste of rich apricot butter on a gray winter day. When slathered on toast, it is like liquid gold.
Late spring and summer are the best times to buy produce at it’s peak, and at the best price, especially if you have access to a Farmer’s Market. If you are new to canning, I would suggest going to the Ball website, freshpreserving.com, and take a look at their Getting Started area.
I would also suggest picking up a Ball Canning and Home Preserving book. They are sold where you buy canning supplies, or you can pick up a copy at the library. Read through and familiarize yourself with the water-bath canning process. That is the process that I used for this Apricot Butter, and the process that is used by most people. Also, canning is not like other cooking, you cannot just throw whatever you want in a pot and then jar it up. There is a lot of science behind the craft of home preserving, but if you stick to the recipes you should not have any problems. Both of these books have more recipes than you will ever make, plus the Ball website has tons of recipes to choose from as well.
There is some expense involved in canning at the beginning. I waited until the canning pot I wanted went on sale ( $10), but you can also pick them up at yard sales. They sell the canning equipment as a kit with all the items you will need (pictured below ) in the kit. Well…except for my Granny’s metal funnel. The flat lids must be used once only, but you use the jars and bands over and over again. After a while you are only buying lids and produce (unless you have a nice garden). Be sure to label your goodies (buy the dissolvable labels) with the name and date. Enjoy!
Apricot Butter Ingredients
2 pounds apricots ( this is a guideline, if your apricots are small you will need more than 2 pounds. Mine were very small and I needed 4 pounds of apricots to yield 6 cups of puree).
1/2 cup water
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Apricot Butter Directions
1. Wash apricots. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gather a small colander with a bowl large enough for the colander to fit inside, a skimmer (to lift apricots from the boiling water), and another bowl to place the blanched fruit in.
2. Blanch the apricots:
- Fill one bowl with ice and water. Set the colander inside the bowl.
- Using the skimmer, place about 8-10 apricots in the pot of boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes. Immediately remove apricots from the boiling water and place in the ice bath. Allow apricots to sit in ice bath for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove apricots from ice bath and place in separate bowl.
- Continue this process until all the apricots have been blanched and cooled.
3. Now for the messy part; using a sharp knife, remove the skins of the apricots. Slice the apricots in half and remove the pits and stems.
4. Place the apricots and water in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apricots are soft, about 20 minutes.
5. Working in batches, carefully transfer apricot mixture to a food mill, or food processor, and process to a smooth purée. Do not liquefy. Measure 6 cups of apricot purée (this part is kinda messy, too).
6. In a large stainless steel pot, combine apricot purée and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon. I cooked mine for about 30 minutes, and I stood over it the entire time to make sure that it did not scorch. Needless to say, I place a fan in the kitchen when I am canning.
7. Prepare canner, jars and lids:
- Fill canner with water; you will need the water to be at least 1 inch above the filled jars. Place jar insert in canner.
- Check jars for chips and cracks, then wash in hot, soapy water.
- Place clean jars in canner and turn on the heat.
- Place jar lids in a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat.
- It is important that the food you are canning is hot, as well as the jars, and the lids. The bands should be at room temperature.
8. Using the jar lifter, remove one jar from the canner, carefully pouring the water back into the canner, and place it on a clean kitchen towel. Place the funnel in the jar, then ladle the hot apricot butter into the jar. Leave 1/4 inch head space. Use the measuring tool that comes with the kit to check for head space clearance, then flip the tool over and use the other end to remove air bubbles from the apricot butter (if there are any) by moving it through the hot mixture.
9. Using a clean, wet towel, carefully wipe the outside edges of the jar.
10. Using the magnetic lid wand, remove a hot lid from the saucepan and place on top of the jar. Place a band over the lid and tighten only fingertip-tight.
11. Using the jar lifter, place the filled jar back inside the canner, and continue the process until all the jars are filled. If you do not have enough Apricot Butter to fill a jar (like at the end), that partly filled jar can be placed in the refrigerator after it cools. You should consume it within a few weeks.
12. Ensure that jars are completely covered with water, by at least 1 inch, then cover the canner and bring to a boil. Process for 10 minutes, after it comes to a boil. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then, using the jar lifter, remove jars and place on a clean kitchen towel to cool. Leave some space between the jars. Do not be alarmed when you hear the lids popping, that is normal.
13. After jars have completely cooled, remove bands. Check seals on jars, the lids should be on tight. If you run across a jar that did not seal well, either place it in the fridge and use it right away, or process the jar again. Using a clean damp cloth, wipe the jars and lids, then the bands. Replace the bands and tighten.
14. Label the jars with name and date, then proudly place them in your pantry or cupboard.