Get Ready to Celebrate National Can-It-Forward Day (With a Giveaway)!

I received some products in the mail from Ball and couldn’t wait to try them out! Here in Minnesota it’s canning season and there are lots of things to can. The peaches are in, corn is ready, green beans, tomatoes and pickling cucumbers are ready. We can and store food for a lot of reasons in Minnesota (some people need to for weather-related reasons) but mostly because we have such a short growing season. It’s nice to be able to open up a fresh jar of blueberry syrup in the dead of winter and be able to taste the sweetness that was preserved at the peak of the season.

Saturday, August 13th is National Can-It-Forward Day and during the remainder of August I am going to be giving away some things to help you preserve your favorite treats. Comment on this post to be entered to win a sampling of pectin, bread and butter pickle mix, salsa mix, a Blue Book Guide to Preserving and Ball product coupons. One winner will be chosen at random late Sunday night (August 14th, 2011). The contest is only open to U.S. residents as I will be paying for the shipping of these products myself. The products were mailed to me from Ball and I am sharing them with you. Now, onto the pictures and descriptions of what all I made while trying the new products from Ball!

Probably my favorite food of all time is the simple blueberry. I just love them. I love blueberry pancakes and muffins but nothing beats blueberry syrup, homemade and fresh without the high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavoring. This stuff is like liquid gold to me and it is well worth the time and effort of putting a batch together. The recipe can be found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  The book is very reasonably priced and has several, several recipes. I will also post the recipe below.

The first thing you need to do before you start canning is to wash all of your jars and get your gear ready. One of the scarier parts of the recipe is pouring the hot syrup into the glass jars. The old funnel I had wasn’t the sturdiest. Ball sent me a new one and it is awesome. It’s very sturdy and well made. I love it!

The other scary part about canning is pulling the hot jars out of the boiling water bath. I used to have some scary tongs that you needed two hands to operate and nine out of ten times the jar slipped out of the tongs and splashed scalding hot water all over my hands. Ball has a new jar lifter out on the market. They are spring-loaded and easy to operate with one hand. I am very impressed with them.

The finished product is my most prized possession and these jars of blueberry syrup will last me all year. I will probably have some to give as gifts too if I don’t get too greedy. I love to send blueberry syrup and wild rice to friends and family not living in Minnesota— they are my two favorite Minnesota foods!

Making cute labels is fun but sometimes I don’t have the time. A nice alternative are these dissolvable labels. I like to save my jars but I can’t stand standing there scrubbing a label off a jar for 15 minutes just to save a buck so these new labels make me very happy. I have been waiting for someone to come out with these for years.

Next I whipped up some salsa, a summertime necessity! If I were making a large batch I would “can” them using a water bath but if you are making a small batch and you plan on eating the salsa within 3 weeks you can make a small batch. Ball sent me a salsa packet and all I had to do was dice some tomatoes, add the mix, some vinegar and then boil it all for 5 minutes.

To be honest, I didn’t expect the packet of dehydrated seasoning to produce a very yummy salsa so I didn’t buy many tomatoes but this stuff is really good! I was surprised. And then disappointed that I only made 2 jars!

I’m not sure if you are a pickle fanatic like my kids and I are, but we love pickles. We love a certain kind of pickle too. Spears, cold-packed. And if you love them as much as we do you may have noticed they are usually about $3.50 a jar and last about 2 days. I got lucky when I went to the farmer’s market yesterday and found pickling cucumbers.

Andrew and I picked out about 30 cucumbers the size we wanted them and brought them home to marvel over.

All you do then depending on how you want your pickles is use the Ball Kosher Pickle Mix with some water and vinegar, boil it, and pour it over the pickles. You let them sit for about 30 minutes then you pack them into jars. If you want your pickles to sit on your shelf you can process them and they will last for a year. If you are like me and want them cold packed, you just pack them in jars and put them in the refrigerator. They will keep for 3 months.That is of course unless you eat them all by then.

It’s very easy and very inexpensive if you already have the jars which I did. I made about $30.00 worth of pickles for about $9.00. The Kosher Pickle Mix is about $5.99 and the cucumbers were $4.00 at the farmer’s market.

It was a great day of canning for me. I will be trying some other things later next week and sharing them with you. Don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win a selection of Ball products! Here is the recipe for the Blueberry Syrup:

Blueberry Syrup

Makes about 3 (16 oz) pintsUse fresh blueberries and lemon to make the perfect syrup to top a morning waffle or an afternoon scoop of ice cream.

You will need:

8 cups blueberries, crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:

1.) COMBINE blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.
2.) TRANSFER to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.
3.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
4.) COMBINE sugar and remaining 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F, adjusting for altitude. Add blueberry juice. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
5.) LADLE hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
6.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

16 Comments

  1. Jessica
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    This all looks amazing! Especially those pancakes! You do super awesome work.. I may need to just drop in one night for dinner 😛

  2. Angela Deaner
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you are amazing. I honestly had no idea that so much went into this process! So, you’re telling me that you don’t just throw food into jars and put lids on them? 😉
    Very impressed.

  3. Posted August 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, your blueberries look wonderful! I have been canning every Sunday after the farmers market, and it’s been wonderful! But I have been using my old junky tongs and no funnel 🙂 Obviously behind on the state-of-the-art equipment…

  4. Dave
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    We are starting to gear up for the canning season as well. That syrup looks like it would be great on a flapjack or a waffle. I hope you and your family are doing well.

  5. Julien
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I’ve never seen someone with enough canning running through their veins to own multiple jar tongs; that’s too fresh!

    Oh, and I’ve been seriously meaning to get into canning myself just like back when I still lived with my parents. Little did I know, those were the days.

  6. Posted August 12, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of canning, I have been playing around with WECK jars and they are lots of fun and come in some nifty tulip shapes that just look chic and amazing! I have never pickled anything but I might now that I see how well yours turned out! And how delicious those blueberries look!

  7. Alex
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I was so interested that you mention Minnesota in your post. I’m a young college student, and everything I know about canning I learned from my grandma spending summers with her in northern Minnesota. For a few weeks a year our raspberry bushes produce gallons and gallons of fruit, and it’s always a mad rush to make jam and preserves. Now that I’m on my own, I’ve been eager to try some new recipes, particularly with blueberries!

  8. Posted August 12, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Wow, your finished jars are so beautiful! My mom used to can . . . still does—but I haven’t tried it since I went out on my own. Guess I should!

    Those tongs look so much less scary than the old ones!

  9. Mack
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    This looks great! I have many things I would like to can as well!

  10. Teri
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I’m making my first batch of pickles right now!

  11. Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I love canned fruits and veggies, and labels that actually wash off? nice!

  12. Marlene
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness those pancakes are to die for! Love love love blueberries! Will you give me lessons on canning too?! It would be a great reason for you to get away!

  13. Emily
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    pickling is the best!

  14. Laura L.
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    All of these canning recipes look great. I’d love to try canning, but I’ve always been intimidated since I don’t have any of the tools. These Ball products look really useful, I’d love to win them!

  15. Posted August 14, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to #10, Teri. The winner of the Ball products!

  16. Sarah Monahan
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a great blog about canning! I am always inspired by great recipies and ideas.