Posts Tagged ‘canning’

Sugar Free Blackberries: Canning with Grandpa

Sugar Free Blackberries: Save freezer space by canning your favorite berries in water only! Use em in smoothies, on top of yogurt, in cobblers and pies all year long | Bringing Design Home

Grandpa and I have an on going love/hate relationship when it comes to the blackberry bushes on his 180 acres of land. It seems the blackberries have been planning a field take over for years and he’s constantly trying to slow down their progress by plowing em down with the tractor, spraying em, and even using sheep and goats to ward off their their attack. Although he’s won many battles, as he’s grown older, it’s gotten harder to win the war. I’m sure once Cale and I start maintaining some of the land ourselves we’ll have a good reality check when it comes to the battle over the blackberries, but until then… I love them soooooo much!

I love blackberries on top of yogurt, ice cream, in cobbler and pies, and even just plain in a big ole bowl filled to the brim! Every summer I count down the days and pray for rain till early July so that the berries are perfectly plump. Grandpa still doesn’t get my love for a fruit that only produces 2-3 weeks out of the entire year, but he enjoys watching me spend hours and hours holding back the cuss words as I reach in past the thorns and pluck out the most beautiful blackberries you could ever imagine!

For free I might add!

If you’ve ever been blackberry picking you know they definitely take some work. You have to dress up in long pants and long shirts in the heat of the summer. You also have to watch out for ticks, snakes, and bees, but other then that… they are so worth it! :) At least for me, I like that they take some work. It makes you truly appreciate each and every berry. Plus the scratches from the thorny bushes and stained purple fingers are mere battle wounds when it comes to the fresh flavor of hand-picked berries!

It’s true, I horde blackberries in the summertime like a squirrel collects acorns for the winter, and preserving my precious (insert Gollum/Smeagol Voice) berries is exactly what inspired this Sugar Free Blackberry Canning Recipe!

For me, its important to find canning recipes that are as flexible as possible when it comes to how I can apply my preserves to main dishes and desserts. This Home Canned Sugar Free Blackberry Recipe gives you just that! It cans plain ole whole berries in water only–not sweetened in a syrup–that you can then apply to any recipe. You can always add in a sweetness later, but you can’t take it out! Canning berries in water allows you to add sweetener to taste just before serving.

Picking fresh blackberries is a lot of work and finding ways to preserve them long after the summer months is what makes it all worth it! I’ve always struggled with freezing my berries because they Inevitability get mushy, take forever to thaw, and seem to bitter in taste from the cold temperatures. Canning your berries not only saves freezer space, but you can easily scoop out as many cups as needed without having to wait for the whole package to thaw. The Ball Canning Guide states that canning your berries in a sugar mixture helps maintain better color, shape and flavor. My results shown in the images of this post were canned last year. Overall I’ve found canning my fruit in water creates very similar results AND still gives me full freedom to add them to whatever recipe I want.

Plus, you can even use the leftover berry juice from the jar in your favorite summertime spritzer or on top of your morning yogurt!

Canned Sugar Free Blackberries

Yields about 6 Quart Jars
  • 18 cups/9 lbs of blackberries (3 cups per quart jar)
  • 12 cups of water (about 2 cups per jar)


STEP 1: Fill each jar with three cups of berries, or until filled 1/2 inch from the top. Gently shake the jars to pack the blackberries down without smashing them.

STEP 2: Bring a boiling-water caner or large sauce pot, 1/3 of the way full with water, to a simmer (takes about 30 minutes). Next, make a hot bath for the lids by filling a small sauce pan with 1 in of warm water. Keep the small sauce pan on medium-low heat with the lids inside the hot bath until you are ready to seal the jars.

STEP 3: In another sauce pan bring the water to a raging boil.

STEP 4: Ladle hot water into jars, on top of the berries until 1/2 inch from the top. If you run out of water just boil more as needed to fill all your jars.

STEP 5: Remove any air bubbles by moving a wooden or plastic (not metal!) utensil up and down the middle of the jar. Seal with hot lids and apply screw bands.

STEP 6: Process in a water bath for 20 minutes. Remove the canner or sauce pot lid, wait an additional 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Remove and let the jars completely cool and seal for 12-24 hours. If a jar lid still pops up and down when you press on it, after the cooling stage, the jar did not seal properly. Simply place this jar in the fridge and eat first. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.


* The Ball Canning Guide states that preserving berries in water-only will yield a less flavorful result, eventually dull in color overtime, and struggle to hold their original texture and shape. The berries shown in the images of this post were canned last year and I was pleasantly happy with my results. As you can see they have remained plump, purple, and tasty!

** If you are still cautious about your berries spoiling overtime or loosing some of their wonderful qualities I would recommend adding a small amount of sugar to STEP 3. Dissolving a 1 1/8 cup of sugar to every 12 cups of water (or 1/2 cup to every 5 cups of water) creates a ultra-light syrup mixture that will guarantee the best in flavor, texture, and color. ;)

Blackberry season hasn’t fully hit us yet, but we are watching the berries closely as they turn from green to red to black! Last year we had a really wet summer here in Oklahoma so we were able to get four or even five good batches of picking in before the heat burned up the berry patches. Since I’ll probably be right around 40 weeks pregnant when the berries have fully ripened, I don’t plan on doing nearly as much picking as I did last year. My hope is to send Cale out to do some of the dirty work for me! After six years of marriage I’ve found a little cobbler bribery goes a long ways! ;)

Happy picking and canning everyone! You can do it!

From The Farm

Stay tuned for two more canning recipes before the summer is over: Slow Cooker Smoke House Salsa and Canned Three Pepper Jam.

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Slow Cooker Cilantro & Lime Vinegar Free Salsa: Canning with Jessie

Vinegar Free Cilantro & Lime Salsa: Canning with Jessie | Bringing Design Home

I know it’s completely nerdy, but I LOVEEEEE canning! Does anyone else out there get as excited as I do about canning!? Whether you are an experienced canner or still trying to figure out what pectin is, I’m so happy you are here!! This is a summer series we started several years back when Cale’s Grandma taught me how to can; thus the original title, Canning with Grandma. Since then we’ve switched the name from “Grandma” to different names of bloggers and neighbors who have shared their recipes, to old friends and family that just happened to be around to lend a helping hand whenever we are canning. :)

We’re kicking this summer’s recipes off with a bang! I’ve got two loaded salsa recipes that I have been tweaking and perfecting for nearly two years! Thanks to the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op here in OK (Check it out, they have em all over the US!) we’ve had access to large batches of fruits and veggies throughout the entire year! Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like the taste of a tomato picked from your own garden, but unfortunately we can’t grow those year-around. Because of our access to large quantities of fresh veggies I’ve been able to hone in on some of my favorite canning recipes and get a head of my summer canning schedule!

Which also means I’m not slaving over a hot stove 9 months pregnant in July! :)

Our first canning recipe for this year is my *new* all time favorite salsa that is completely vinegar free! I believe strongly that there is nothing like a good salsa and that’s why I’m a purist salsa lover at heart. I have tried several canned salsa recipes and although they look beautiful, I can’t stand the vinegar. Regardless of how little vinegar there might be in the actual recipe, the vinegar flavor always seems to over power the fresh tomatoes and peppers. Let em shine baby! I mean we’ve worked so hard all summer watering, and pruning, and loving on these garden beauties! It’s time to let them take center stage and get back to a traditional home canned salsa that’s truly cilantro and lime based. Typically, vinegar is needed to help preserve the salsa, but after doing much research, and some good ole trial and error, I’ve also found that fresh lime juice works just as well! And let me tell ya, the results are AMAZING!! :D

I have to thank my sister-in-law Jessie for her assistance with this recipe. She’s really helped me nail down the base ratio of peppers to tomatoes. The other thing she introduced me too, is cooking canned salsa in the slow cooker instead of a giant pot over the stove! This has completely changed my life when it comes to canning and because of that I have named this post; Canning with Jessie! :)

The slow cooker is a great way to cook your salsa without heating up your house in the middle of summer. Instead of cooking the salsa in a pot for an hour or so, you cook the salsa on high for four hours. This method really gives you a good idea of how all the flavors will blend together over time. Not only does this process allow you to break up your day into phase 1: preparing the salsa, and phase 2: canning the salsa, it also allows you to tweak the flavors as you go.

Plus, you get to munch on salsa all day long! I’m just saying…

It takes a lot of time to can your own food and if I’m gonna take the time to do it, I want recipes that are gonna be flexible with my schedule, utilizing the ingredients I have on hand, and in the end result in preserves that I know are gonna be BIG HITS! This recipe is so forgiving and flexible. If you add too many peppers, just pull out a can of diced tomatoes and no one will ever know! ;) Want it hotter? Add more whole peppers! Either way, don’t be afraid to trust your gut and add more as needed. I always try and look for a good balance of peppers + onions = tomatoes. If you like a more tomato flavored salsa, slowly add in the peppers until you get the consistency that’s right for you. I promise if you take the time to really let this salsa build over time, you’ll end up with a batch your taste buds and everyone else around you will love! ;)

Slow Cooker Cilantro & Lime Vinegar Free Canned Salsa

Yields: About 8 Pint Jars
  • 28 tomatoes (1/2 peeled, 1/2 not, and then I hand diced 1/2 and used the juicer to chop/blend the other 1/2)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 5  jalapeño peppers (2 with seeds, 3 without seeds)
  • 3 large Anaheim chilies (without seeds)
  • 2 bell peppers (without seeds)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 8 garlic gloves
  • 1-2 bunches of cilantro (I like a lot of cilantro!)
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 small can tomato paste for thickening (if needed)


STEP 1: Blend and chop the tomatoes, then add to the slow cooker. If you want it really chunky, chop more and blend less.

STEP 2: Blend and dice the peppers and onions together, then add them to the slow cooker. This is where you get a good idea of your thickness/consistency. Feel free to add more if you need too! I look for a good ratio of peppers & onions = tomatoes, but you may like yours with less peppers? I feel like it gives the salsa a better mix of flavors.

STEP 3: Add the salt, cumin, sugar, garlic gloves, and lime juice. Chop the fresh cilantro, but set aside for later!

STEP 4: Cook on high for about 4 hours. I know you’ll be tempted to cook it on low overnight, but the salsa will have an overcooked/burnt taste to it. Do a taste test about an hour in, and see if it’s spicy enough? You can always add in more peppers to bring up the heat. If you put too many peppers, just pull out a can of diced tomatoes (no one will know!) and that should balance things out a bit!

STEP 5: After the salsa has cooked for three hours, throw in the fresh cilantro and let it cook for one last hour. Feel free to add any last minute extras depending on your final taste test.

STEP 6: Bring a boiling-water caner or large sauce pot, half-full with water, to a simmer (takes about 30 minutes). Next, make a hot bath for the lids by filling a small sauce pan with 1 in of warm water. Keep the small sauce pan on medium-low heat with the lids inside the hot bath until you are ready to seal the hot jars.

STEP 7: Once the water is boiling place as many empty jars as you can (might have to do two batches of jars at a time) in the simmering water. This is a quick way to heat up the empty jars just before you fill them up with salsa. Remove the jars when your salsa is finished cooking and just before you are ready to start the canning process.

STEP 8: Pour the hot salsa into hot sterilized jars, within 1/2 inch from the top. Remove any air bubbles by moving a wooden or plastic (not metal!) utensil up and down the middle of the jar. Seal with hot lids and apply screw bands.

STEP 9: Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

STEP 10: Remove and let the jars completely cool and seal for 12-24 hours. If a jar lid still pops up and down when you press on it, after the cooling stage, the jar did not seal properly. Simply place this jar in the fridge and eat first. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

I just love how colorful and fresh this salsa looks in the jars. Unlike canning jam, where you have to be ready to can it the minute the jam is boiling hot, cooking the salsa in a slow cooker breaks up your day and gives you a bit more time to prepare for the canning process. With kids running around it can be hard to find a good 3-4 hours at one time to cut everything up and can when the salsa is hot. I love that this slow cooker recipe slows down the process and is flexible enough that I can wait until nap time if I have too! :)

Thanks Jessie for giving me the base for this perfect salsa recipe! We seriously should have a salsa party this summer!? Wouldn’t be that be fun!? Now… I’ve just gotta figure out where and when we can schedule it in between baby #2′s July due date!? :/

Happy canning everyone!

Look for our Slow Cooker Smokehouse Garden Salsa toward the end of June!

From The Farm

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Berry & Wine Jam: Canning with Ken

Canned Blackberry & Apricot Wine Jam. Mix & match your favorite seasonal berries and white wine to customize your own version of this basic Berry & Wine Jam!

My dad, Ken, is the man when it comes to all things garden and wine. Every year he has a huge garden full of garlic, potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes (just to name a few!), but the thing I love about his garden the most is when he uses his extra veggies to make homemade wine! He’s made every kind you can think of out of currants, blackberries and jalapenos, apples, apricots, and even tomatoes!

Unlike typical jam and jelly bread spreads this recipe is a sweet/tart mix. It’s a celebration of that time of year when the garden (or berry bush) is just bursting with freshness and our way of saying thanks to my dad for all the FREE homemade wine over the years. :)

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Green Pepper Jalapeno Jam: Canning with Kerry


I always get a little sad this time of year. The garden seems to slow down it’s production as the summer heat rages on in full force. This summer we’ve shared some great jam recipes with you and I hope you’ve found sometime to put some away for the winter as well as can some of our old favorites.

I thought it would be fun to conclude our 2012 “Canning with…” Series by taking it back to it’s original roots and sharing a recipe from a local friend. Kerry and her family have opened up their home for Cale and I in so many ways. We’ve spent lots of Sunday afternoons part-taking in meals around their dinner table, projects around the house, and a few intense moments playing Settlers of Catan.

Actually it was in one of those “intense moments” that Kerry busted out some of her Green Pepper Jalapeno Jam. From that moment on, I knew I had to share this recipe with you! It’s super easy to make… no hours of boiling down fruit AND we didn’t even have to give ours a water bath in order for it to seal! You’ll have to checkout the full instructions below, but I promise this is one recipe that is well worth your time!

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Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes: (fake) Canning with Jennifer Jo


Due to being 8 months pregnant canning this year has been a little bit harder than I had expected. I have not been able to tryout as many new recipes as I had originally hoped, but I was recently looking up some recipes for canning Sun Dried Tomatoes and found Jennifer Jo with Mama’s Minutia. A momma of four she’s been busy canning and preserving all summer long. I was super excited when she agreed to share her easy recipe for Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes in our “Canning with…” Series. Especially since it’s SUPER simple and doesn’t require actual “canning”. Since each batch is fairly small (2 oven trays full = about 2 pint jars) Jennifer just freezes her tomatoes in a jar and calls it good. Maybe this makes me a sellout canner, but this 100 degree weather has my ankles so swollen I swear they could be a prop in the up and coming The Hobbit Movie (minus the hairy feet of course!).

So bare with me this year! I’m cutting canning corners wherever I can (Ha!)! ;)

Why does Jennifer love these tomatoes?

They’re delicious! Meaty and flavorful and chewy and sweet. They add a wallop of a flavor punch. They are easy to make—no peeling or seeding the tomatoes. They use up lots of in-season herbs. They roast while you sleep.

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Why Every Good Blogger Should be Friends With a Food Blogger :)


As a blogger and local designer I’ve meet all kinds of interesting people but the type of friends that are REALLY good to know are food bloggers!

It’s true! They’ll do things like drive 6 hours just so you can teach them a certain cooking art that they “think” you know and bring fresh blueberry bread for breakfast! :)

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Pectin Free Strawberry Jam: Canning with Samantha Lamb


Today we are super excited to share a canning recipe from the lovely Samantha Lamb. We first met Sam at a local craft show where we shared neighboring booth space. She’s a true farm girl after our own heart with chickens, cows, and garden all her own. She lives in a little farm house near her family in OK and loves baking pies for the locals!

Hello my Darlin dears, wonderful meadow creatures that live in the orchard & you darling Gnomes that are wonderful at picking Strawberries,

Miss Lamb your canning & fanciful farmer here,

Today, I am honored to be the guest blogger here at Green Couch Design & I am happier than a peach to share with you my favorite canning recipe for Strawberry Jam, that uses no pectin

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Earl Grey Peach Jam: Canning with Paige


Today we are launching one of our favorite summer series called “Canning with… “. This is our third year and what started as Canning with Grandma has now turned into a collaboration with different bloggers and several neighborhood friends. We’ll be sharing a new recipe about every two weeks from now through August. From Sweet & Sour Pickles to Rose Water we’ve got enough to keep you coming back all summer long! So dust off those canning jars and get stashed with equipment. Before you know it you’ll be up to your ears with the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables.

Hi ya’ll! My name is Paige and I write the blog, Come and Take It. Come and Take It is devoted to inspirational living, family style. What does that mean you say? I write about the things I love: cooking, home décor, fashion, and entertaining among others, but most importantly, how our family likes to incorporate all of these elements into our own lifestyle. My husband is in the Army so things can get a little chaotic at times, but no matter where we live (currently near Savannah, Georgia) we will always call Texas home. We are excitedly anticipating the birth of our daughter, due in early September, and love to harass snuggle our dog, Winston, and cat, Charles.

My parents moved from suburban Houston to a small, hill country town outside of Austin, Texas about 5 years ago. Not only was the pace of the every day life different, there were whole new aspects to living a ‘country’ life to get used to, like a full tree of peaches every May.

Over the past couple years I’ve taken on the hundreds of peaches that inhabit our kitchen for the last two weeks of May with cobblers, chutneys, salsas and more. Last year we even turned them into our wedding favors! My mom and I tackled the project this year, and we ended up with ginger peach jam, jalapeno peach jam and now, early grey infused peach jam. Don’t forget the weeks of cobbler for dessert!

Depending on the size and age of your peaches, the process can get a little overwhelming so don’t despair! Our peaches were at the end of their life and were very small, so lots of peeling involved. I’ve included the recipe I followed, but please be aware that every stove cooks differently, so test your jam before you can! ;)

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Vintage Illustrations from Grandma’s Stuff: Part 1


Remember a while back when I went through Grandma’s stuff? We’ll, I’ve been stashing a few items away to share! I’ve got a series of three different vintage illustration styles I found in her old cookbooks and collection of recipes.

I’ve been really excited about sharing these with you all! Some of them are more “playful” than others but to start us out, I thought the illustrations about canning were a great way to finish up our summer canning for 2011 and start off this new series of illustrations.


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Tomato Soup & MORE: Canning with Grandma

HM Tomato Soup

Ok so it’s confession time. Everyone is asking me where I got ALL my tomatoes to can with and as much as I would like to brag about my over abundance of tomatoes I have to be honest and say… I bought them. Our tomatoes this year are doing terrible and I struggled with purchasing tomatoes because in my book the expense of having a garden plus having to buy more veggies on top sorta cancels any amount of money I would save! But… after much debate I just kept thinking it’s more about the quality of the food I am feeding my family. I don’t know about you but I’m all about quick and healthy meals. My goal this year was to get us eating as “raw” foods as possible so that goal to me was worth the extra expense of buying our own tomatoes to can vs. purchasing store-bought salsa, tomato juice/soup, pizza sauce, etc.

Now, I will say that I purchased my tomatoes from a farmer (wearing overalls) who has a produce stand at a near by intersection. When I went to write out the check it was made to George Williams. Ok, that wasn’t really his name but it was something like that. An old farmer name is what it was and I thought it was ohh so wonderful and worth EVERY penny! :)

So without further ado, here is the recipe I am the most excited about from this summer’s canning adventures. It’s something I can use as a quick soup, homemade Bloody Marys (to go with Leslie’s pickled green beans, in chili, on pasta, and anything else you can think of! It’s ohh so good and oh so worth the time (even if you can’t can it you can still cook it for dinner)!

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High class design in overalls. It's the simple life of a farm through the eyes of a couple of crazy designers. We call ourselves Green Couch Design and we are Bringing Design Home.

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