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:
You will need:
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
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.