How Full is Full Enough?

vegetables series: cucumbers pickles

I received a very practical canning question from Bonnie the other day and thought I’d try to share a little practical experience to help clear things up.

Bonnie’s question is about pickles. Specifically, packing a jar with cukes before adding the pickling liquid. She wrote:

Can  you  please  explain   or show how to  tightly fill a canning jar with cucumbers when  making  pickles.

I will try to explain because I have no way to video this.

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Stirring Things Up After Letting Things Sit

Jam-and-Jelly-Preserving-Pectins-101A long-time canner and blog reader, Ramona, wrote in the other day with a good question about why jams tend to separate – meaning the fruit goes to the top of the jam rather than being evenly distributed through the jell.

Here’s her question:

I noticed on the mixed berry and rhubarb jam recipe you suggested letting the jam set before putting into jars and the water bath canner. You said this will help keep the fruit mixed. Does this help with other jam recipes?  I have done canning for years, I am 76 years old and started canning with my Grandmother when I was a child. I have had several different jams to separate after the canning process. Would it help to let it set a few minutes before putting into jars? Pepper jelly especially separates.

Here’s something to consider … Continue reading

Pickles Getting Mushy? Remember to Trim the Blossoms

Pickles- 078Sam wrote in the other day and asked why his pickles are getting mushy. Here’s his question:

When we can pickles some end up soft, usually towards the top of the jar we use a pinch of alum do we need to use more or put a head of dill on top to hold pickles down or what? Any tips would be nice !

Glad to help Sam, here are a few things to keep in mind and try when it comes to pickling your cukes this year … Continue reading

In Search of Perfect Pepper Jelly

Green Pepper JellyJust the other day, I received a question from Alisha about pepper jelly:

I’m looking for a pepper jelly recipe, that utilizes a large variety of hot peppers (jalapeno, habanero, serrano, etc), with the minced pepper fruit suspended in the jelly. Have you come across any? We had a dear friend that used to make it… but she passed, and never shared her recipe. I remember she said it contained 6 different peppers… they were a variety of colors. And it was remarkable.

This raises a few interesting questions:

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Grow the Right Tomatoes for Canning Salsa

In theory, most tomato varieties will work for making salsa and what it really comes down to is how juicy you like your salsa.  For those of you who like a more watery salsa, slicing tomatoes will work just fine.  But for those of us who like a drier salsa, plum tomatoes or meatier tomatoes are our choice. Continue reading