Canning 101: Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam

After making some peach pie filling, I still had quite a few peaches left, so I decided to make some jam. Last year I made a peach honey jam, which was delicious, but I like a variety of different jams in my canning cupboard. I found this recipe on Sarah’s Joys blog, so I thought I’d give it a try. Delicious!

The recipe calls for 8 cups of peaches. I had 12 cups of peaches left after making pie filling, so I made 1 1/2 the recipe below – with the exception of the bourbon. I left the bourbon at 1 tablespoon, as it’s added simply to enhance the flavor of the vanilla, not to have a strong bourbon presence.



Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam

8 cups peeled and chopped peaches
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 vanilla bean (or 1 to 2 teaspoons good vanilla extract)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon good bourbon (optional)

Put the peaches, lemon juice and 2 cups sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds, and place in the pot along with the empty pod halves. (If using vanilla extract, add this to the peaches instead.)



Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If using, add the bourbon. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until thickened to desired consistency.


Ladle hot jam into prepared jelly jars, discarding the vanilla bean pods. Process jam in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Canning 101: Peach Pie Filling

Our four peach trees are overloaded this year with beautiful white peaches. They didn’t produce any peaches last year, and the year before that a wind storm destroyed our other peach trees, just before the peaches were ready, of course. Usually these peaches are fairly small (the size of a large chicken egg), but we must have gotten rain at just the right times this year, because these are the largest peaches we’ve gotten. I picked a 5-gallon bucket of these beauties today.

I’d already canned peaches earlier in the year when I bought a couple lugs of Colorado peaches from the grocery store. The boys love to eat peaches straight from the jar, and that’s what these are for. With our own peaches, however, I like to make jams and pie filling, so that’s what I set out to do with these I picked today.

The recipe I used says it makes 7 quarts of pie filling, but I only got 6 quarts, probably because our peaches are smaller compared to what you normally find in the grocery store. They still make great pies, though.



Peach Pie Filling

6 quarts sliced peaches
7 cups sugar
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons ClearJel
5 1/4 cups cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cup lemon juice
Additional 1/4 cup lemon juice or Fruit Fresh pectin

Place peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove and place in ice cold water. Remove skins and pits, and slice peaches. To keep peaches from turning brown, mix in 1/4 cup lemon juice or Fruit Fresh pectin.

Combine water, sugar, ClearJel and cinnamon in a large stockpot. Stir and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble.

Add the 1 3/4 cup lemon juice, and boil the sauce for an additional minute, stirring constantly.

Add the sliced, drained peaches, and cook for 3 additional minutes.


Fill quart jars within 1 inch of the top. Place filled jars in a boiling water canner, and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Process for 30 minutes.

It’s Jammin’ Time: Strawberry Honey Jam

Kevin and I needed freezer bags this weekend so we could butcher our chickens, so that meant a trip to Kalona and the Stringtown grocery store. Those who live in eastern Iowa know about Kalona and this store. It’s run by the Amish, and you can buy just about anything there in bulk, from spices to noodles and homemade baked goods.

We found our chicken freezer bags, but the store has expanded since we were last there, and they’ve added a produce section. We found the most beautiful, fresh-picked strawberries that I’ve seen in a long time, so, of course, I came home with a flat to make some homemade jam – and a lot of other things for canning and smoking fish later in the season. And some homemade pecan-topped cinnamon rolls. And cheese curds. Good thing we don’t live next door to this place!

I love to make jam, but I hate the fact that so many jam recipes take a ton of white sugar, something I’ve been trying to avoid. Last summer I made several different jam recipes and substituted honey for the white sugar, so I decided to do the same with these gorgeous strawberries.



I used a raw buckwheat honey, which was delicious on its own, and the result is amazing strawberry jam. I did use pectin, which I don’t normally do, because there isn’t a lot of pectin in strawberries, and I didn’t want to add apple (a natural source of pectin). Two quarts of berries yielded 5 half-pints of jam in the end.

Strawberry Honey Jam

2 quarts freshly picked strawberries, washed and hulled
1 1/3 cup unprocessed, raw honey
1 box powdered pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Wash and hull strawberries. In a large pot, add the strawberries, and mash well. Add honey and powdered pectin to the pot. Stir until combined. Heat mixture to a boil, and stir constantly until the jam starts to thicken. The length of time depends on your pot size, how juicy the strawberries are, etc. I stirred this batch for approximately 20 minutes.




When thickened, ladle jam into sterilized jam jars. Add lids and rings; tighten just until finger-tight. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Yield:  5 half-pints

Canning 101: Black Beans

Yesterday it was time to can the black beans I’ve been collecting in my cupboard. Yes, I think I’ve had a theme going this week, but it was kind of slow at work – at least at the beginning of the week when I decided this was the week to get some canning done. Of course, as soon as I embarked on this adventure, the work came in, and I was swamped. 🙂

I’d snagged a good deal on about 5 pounds of dried black beans at the grocery store a while back. I put black beans in my chili, and I also like to make a corn and black bean salad/salsa in the summer, so these beans will definitely come in handy. Plus, if they’re canned, I know we’ll eat them. When they sit in the cupboard in those bags, they always seem to get passed over for something else.

I’ve discovered that canning dried beans is easy peasy, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned beans at the store again. It’s way cheaper to can your own dried beans, and I like the fact that I don’t have to add salt to the pints unless I want to. Don’t tell Kevin, but that’s what I did! He’s a salt-a-holic. 🙂

Start off by rinsing and sorting the beans – you’ll find rocks, twigs, and just about anything, and you definitely don’t want that going into your jars! Soak the dried beans overnight. Since I was doing 5 pounds at once, I used my huge canning stockpot. Cover the beans with cold water, about 2-3 inches over the top of the beans. Mine soaked up a lot of the water before I went to bed, so I just added more cold water to have the 2-3 inches extra.

In the morning, drain the beans. You’ll be surprised how dirty these beans are! Put the beans back in your stockpot, and cover with fresh cold water. Put on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 30 minutes at this gentle boil – not a hard boil, or the beans will split.

Fill pint jars approximately 3/4 full with the cooked beans, and add the cooking water (or boiling water if you prefer) just to cover the beans. Leave a 1-inch headspace. Place lids and rings; tighten just to finger tight.

Process pints in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I worked up 5 pounds of dried black beans, and I ended up with 20 pints – a full canner for me. 🙂

Canning 101: Chili Beans

I”ll admit it. We’re a bean family. We eat beans in just about every form, from green beans we grow and can every summer to kidney beans, Lima beans….and chili beans. We love chili, especially when the guys are lucky during deer season. Venison chili is the absolute best.

While I’ve canned just about everything under the sun, I’ve never really canned any kind of beans outside of green beans. My mom, mother-in-law, sisters-in law all canned green beans, but I don’t remember any of them canning dried beans. I did can baked beans last summer and again yesterday, which are a big hit in my family by the way, but I decided to do an Internet search about canning dried beans – and boy, did I find tons of information and recipes on how to can them!

I always have lots of dried beans in my cupboard, but let’s face it, they’re a pain in the behind to use. You have to remember to soak them the night before you want to use them – and I usually forget and end up doing the quick 2-minute boil, let them set and then cook them down. However, if I canned up all these dried beans that are taking over my cupboard, I’d have ready-to-use (and ready-to-eat) beans whenever I wanted them. It was my “duh” moment – why hadn’t I thought of this years ago and saved myself tons of hassle??

There’s a grocery store near us in West Liberty that caters to its Mexican community, and aside from getting some really great deals on beef roasts, they stock big bags of dried beans, so I came home with 4 pounds of dried pintos and 4 pounds of dried black beans. The pintos are what I used in my chili bean recipe, and the black beans will be used later, canned plain so I can use them in lots of different recipes.

I found the recipe on the Simply Homemaking blog after a search on Pinterest for different recipes. I doubled the spice blend since I was using 4 pounds of dried beans, and I also added a couple tablespoons of chipotle powder because we like a spicy chili. I didn’t have any coriander, and I didn’t use the oregano it called for.



Seasoning Mix For Chili Beans:  (for a single batch of 8 pints):
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 more teaspoons sea salt to add to the jars

Soak the pinto beans overnight, drain them the next day, and add them to a large stockpot and cover them with fresh water. Cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes. Add the cooked pinto beans to clean pint jars, filling the jars approximately 3/4 full. Add 2 teaspoons of the spice blend to each jar. Add some of the cooking water to each jar, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add lids and rings. Process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I ended up with 17 pints of delicious chili beans – and now I know how easy it is to make my own chili beans. I can control the spice blend, and I don’t have to worry about what else may be lurking inside those store-bought cans. Win-win for me 🙂

It’s Jammin’ Time: Ground Cherry Honey Jam

I finally had enough ground cherries to make some jam this year. Usually, between Kevin and the boys (and occasionally me too), they all are eaten long before I have enough of the little gems to do anything with them. We have eaten quite a few this year, but we planted several plants, and they actually survived the onslaught of all the deer and groundhog problems – so I got to make jam for the first time ever! I remember my grandmother making this, and it was sooo good.


I used the same recipe I did earlier this year when I made a small batch of blueberry jam. I just substituted an equal amount (1 quart) of ground cherries for the blueberries and used honey instead of sugar. I ended up with five 4-ounce jelly jars of deliciousness that will be hidden out of sight from the boys  🙂

Ground Cherry Honey Jam

1 quart ground cherries
2/3 cup honey (8 ounces)
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pour the ground cherries into a low, wide, nonreactive pan and mash. Add the honey and lemon juice; stir to combine. Let the mixture sit until the honey begins to dissolve.

Place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the jam starts to thicken.



When the jam has thickened, ladle into clean, hot jars. Seal with rings and lids. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Yield:  Approximately five 4-ounce jars


Canning 101: Pork and Beans

I’ve always wanted to try a homemade pork and beans recipe to can, and I found several on Pinterest. Kevin and the boys love baked beans, complete with tons of bacon on top, so I thought it made sense to try and make my own version to have on hand whenever the need for a quick side dish arose.

This recipe was found on, and there are tons of delicious canning recipes there that are on my to-do list for someday. I had leftover sauce from today’s canning session (I doubled the recipe for canning), so I got more beans ready to eat for supper tonight as well. I do think I’ll cut back just a little bit on the amount of vinegar next time, but I’ll wait to see how everything tastes straight from the jar in a few weeks before I decide for sure. The recipe claims to be a clone for one of the Bush’s baked bean recipes, and so far, I think it’s pretty close.



Cloned Bush’s Maple Baked Beans

1 pound navy beans, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1-1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups ketchup (I used Heinz but homemade would be great too)
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar, either cider or white (I used cider)
Salt pork, cubed in 1-inch pieces (one piece per canning jar)

Add dry beans to a Dutch oven and add 8 cups of water to cover the beans. Cook on high until the beans come to a boil, for about 2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Cover and let the beans sit in the pot covered for 30 to 45 minutes. The beans will soak up quite a bit of the water during this time.

Drain the beans and add 8 cups of fresh water to the pot along with the chopped onion. Cook the beans and onions for 15 minutes at a full boil.

In another saucepan, combine the brown sugar, molasses, mustard powder, salt, black pepper, ketchup, maple syrup, water, and vinegar. Cook to get a slow boil. It will be sweet but not thick.

Prepare 6 pint jars. Fill each pint jar with 1 cup of the bean/onion mixture. Add 1 piece of salt pork. Add more beans until the jar is about 3/4 full. Ladle hot sauce over the beans, leaving 1-inch headspace. Seal.

Pressure can pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Yield:  Approximately 6 pints

I did double the recipe and ended up with 9 pints. I used navy beans that were small, so I’m sure if you use a larger white bean, the yield will be higher.

Canning 101: Salsa

I can’t believe how many weeks have passed since I last posted–sorry! I have been working hard in the canning kitchen and garden, plus my parents had their 50th wedding anniversary, had an auction AND moved the last part of August —-so, I’ve been a bit busy 🙂 I promise I’ll catch you up on all the goodies I’ve been putting up on the shelves in future posts.

Today, though, it was time to tackle a few more tomatoes, and salsa was the name of the game today. When I first made salsa, I went to the store and bought the Mrs. Wages salsa mix. It wasn’t bad, so I did that for a few years. Then our oldest son Cody decided he wanted to grow hot peppers, so he and I came up with a salsa recipe of our own a few years back. I still follow the base recipe, but (of course) I tweak it here and there depending on what peppers I have available and the flavor of the tomatoes. This year we grew San Marzano tomatoes (a Roma-style tomato that I absolutely love), jalapeno peppers, Anaheim chili peppers, habanero peppers, and some sort of miniature bell pepper plant that I picked up on sale at the grocery store. What the deer didn’t eat (can you believe they LOVED eating my Anaheim peppers?), I managed to salvage for a batch of salsa.

Keep in mind this is a base recipe. Cody and I actually did measure the ingredients that first year we made this, but I always adjust peppers and seasonings to taste each time. This recipe will give you a good base for you to tweak to your family’s liking.

Cody’s Salsa

12 pints paste tomatoes, skinned, cored, and chopped
1-1/2 pints finely chopped onions
3 green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 pint cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (optional)
1 to 2 cans tomato paste (will depend how thick you like your salsa)
3 to 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
*Optional hot peppers (if you like): Anaheim, habanero, cayenne, etc.

Combine all ingredients in a large, nonreactive saucepot. Cook until desired consistency.



Ladle into hot, sterilized pint canning jars. Seal. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.




Canning 101: 2 Peach Jams and Blueberry Honey Jam

I bought 2 lugs of Colorado peaches at the grocery store yesterday….boy were they nice! I also picked up 2 pints of nice-looking blueberries and thought as long as I was in the mood to make peach jam, I could easily make a small batch of blueberry jam to go with.

All in all, I canned 17 quarts of peaches, 6 half-pints of peach jam, 5 half-pints of spiced peach jam, and 3 half-pints of blueberry honey jam (one of which never made it to the shelves!)


I found a nice recipe for Blueberry Honey Jam on I like this recipe because it’s a small-batch recipe, and I didn’t have to spend a lot of time working on it. The recipe also works for most berries and fruit, with the exception of apples, and I also followed this recipe for one of the peach jams I made today. They both turned out delicious!

Blueberry Honey Jam

  • 1 quart blueberries (approximately 1½ pounds)
  • ⅔ cup honey (8 ounces)
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  1. Pour the berries into a low, wide, non-reactive pan and mash.
  2. Add the honey and lemon juice and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit until the honey begins to dissolve.
  3. Place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring regularly, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the jam thickens.
  4. To make the jam shelf stable, pour it into clean, hot jars. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for ten minutes.
  5. When time is up, remove jars from the canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel and let them cool.
  6. When the jars are room temperature, check the seals. If the lids have gone concave and don’t wiggle at all, they are sealed.
  7. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within a few weeks.
  8. If you don’t want to process the jam, just pour it into a jar, let it cool, and put it in the refrigerator.

For my peach jam recipe, I basically used the Blueberry Honey Jam recipe, although I did use sugar instead of honey.

For the spiced peach jam, I had a few peaches leftover from the first box, so I added a few spices that I normally add to a peach pie. I think it turned out delicious!

Spiced Peach Jam

Approximately 2 quarts diced peaches
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Place diced peaches in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients. Heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook at a rolling boil for approximately 10 minutes, or until the jam thickens.

Ladle into hot half-pint jars. Seal. Process in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes.

Yield:  5 half-pints


Canning 101: Spiced Pickled Cabbage

We planted 12 heads of cabbage this year, and, of course, after the fact I discovered we didn’t need to make sauerkraut as we had plenty left from last year. So, what’s a person to do with 12 large heads of cabbage? I made a batch of canned coleslaw already (see previous blog post for recipe), and we fried some up a few times for supper. We did ask a daughter if she and her girls wanted some sauerkraut, so some of the heads went for that, but I still had a couple of cabbage with no obvious purpose.

Then I found a recipe for Spiced Pickled Cabbage in Favorite Pickles & Relishes:  Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletin A-91 by Andrea Chesman.  I found this on my Scribd subscription, and they have so many different bulletins available. If you want to figure out how to do anything, they’ve probably got a bulletin for it!

It’s an easy recipe to do, and I can’t wait to taste it!


Spiced Pickled Cabbage

4 quarts shredded red or green cabbage
1/2 cup pickling salt
1 quart white vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 teaspoons grated horseradish
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks

Layer cabbage and salt in a large kettle or crock. Let stand overnight.

The next day, drain the cabbage, pressing out all juice. Rinse thoroughly and drain again.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and horseradish. Bring to a boil. Tie cloves and cinnamon in a cheesecloth spice bag and add to the saucepan. Simmer 15 minutes.

Pack cabbage into clean, hot pint jars and fill with vinegar mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a nonmetallic spatula down sides of the jars. Seal and process in a boiling-water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Yield:  4 pints

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