January 29, 2017

Cold Weather Canning

As soon as it gets cold enough to want the wood cookstove going all day in the kitchen, it's time to start my cold weather canning. This is when I start emptying out the freezer, pulling out things that have been stored there for future canning.

First up was bone broth.

Bones with about half-a-cup cider vinegar, onions, & celery. It needs
a slow simmer over several days to extract minerals from the bones.

This takes the longest so I start it first. I just toss our bones into a bag in the freezer, and later pull them out to make the broth. After they're defrosted I pick off any bits of meat I can find. It was quite a lot, actually, almost 2 quarts of a mix of chicken, chevon, duck, pork, and squirrel. Usually I use this is soups, but I think I might make another batch of scrapple with this.

Once that got going, I started in on some strawberry jam.

After that it was peach jam.

Stirring in the sugar. I'm guessing most folks would consider mine
fruit spreads, because I only use about 1/3 the sugar of jelly and jam.

This was the first time I've made peach jam. I didn't get more than a pie's worth of peaches at any one picking, so besides eating fresh pies I froze peach pies, raspberry-peach, and blueberry-peach pies. Then three quarts were gradually collected in the freezer for the jam.

I used my frozen cushaw to make pumpkin butter.

The only problem is that this one isn't good for reclaiming fridge or freezer space with this product, because it is a huge no-no to can this stuff. It must be stored in the fridge or freezer according to government safety recommendations. I reckon there's a small gain because when it's cooked down it takes up less space, and it's worth it because I love this stuff! It won't last long.

Then blueberry jam

My canning kitchen (on the back porch) is not
 heated so the hot jars and jam were steaming.

I only used part of my frozen blueberries. There are still plenty in the freezer for blueberry pancakes and muffins.

Also elderberry jelly

Using a wine press to squeeze out every last drop.

I only got about a gallon of elderberries to freeze. The birds got the rest.

Fig-orange jam was next.

Fig combines nicely with several other fruits, but we particularly
like the orange-fig combination. This batch was made with my
 homemade apple pectin, so I'm cooking it down in my slow cooker.

Last up was raspberry jelly.

Love this cheerful color.

I didn't get quite enough juice for a batch of jelly so I mixed the raspberry with apple juice for the jelly. The raspberry flavor predominates, however, and it is so good.

This year's cold weather canning efforts.

Does that seem like a lot of jelly and jam? It's definitely more than a year's worth, but we had such a good fruit harvest that I took advantage of it. Also, one of our favorite breakfasts is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with toast. So all that jam and jelly will be put to good use.

I did my pizza sauce last October, so that wraps up my cold weather canning for this winter.

Cold Weather Canning © January 2017 


Goatldi said...

Awesome job Leigh! Perhaps this year I can get some jams done also. Really miss the sweet treat part of canning. You hands down get the most industrious woman award in my book.

Meanie said...

Good time of year to can!
What is the machine that you used to squeeze out the elderberry juice?
It looks sturdy & oh so useful!

Florida Farm Girl said...

Wow, you have been busy. Why can you not can the pumpkin butter? Is it different from apple butter in some chemical way? I've had apple butter that was home canned and it was fine.

Mama Pea said...

Jeez-Louise, Leigh! Sounds like you got a commercial kitchen's worth of yummy, nutritious, healthy food put by!! I've yet to make my applesauce this year and after bringing some apples up from the root cellar this morning for a pie, I realized some of the varieties are getting a little on the "less-than-crisp" side so I'm thinking I'll be doing applesauce this coming week. I was also thinking of apple jelly (which I've never made before) so I may try that. We don't use much jam or jelly anymore with just the two of us, but you gave me a good reminder that peanut butter and jam/jelly on toast would be a good and easy breakfast. Thanks!

Leigh said...

Aw shucks. Some days I don't feel very industrious, but when I have a whole countertop full of jars like that, I feel pretty good. :)

Leigh said...

Meanie, I agree! I like canning during winter because I'm not so rushed as I am during harvest, plus I like the heat and humidity in winter better than summer. :)

That machine is a wine press, very similar to this one at Amazon. I got it for pressing the herbal tinctures that I make, but got to thinking that it would work well for jelly making too. It truly gets most of the juice out, especially if I tilt it over a bowl and let it drain.

Leigh said...

According to the canning police, butters (pumpkin, apple, you name it) are too thick to guarantee the correct temperature has been reached in the center or the jar to kill the bad bacteria. For what it's worth, I've never had any trouble with mine either. :)

Leigh said...

Applesauce is the perfect solution for soft apples! This year I even tried some mixed sauces: apple & blueberry, and apple & apricot. Yummy!

Those breakfast sandwiches are about the only thing we use jam and jelly for too, although Dan occasionally likes some jam on his toast with eggs.

Leigh said...

Ya'll, I got a question by email from someone who was unable to leave a comment. It was a good question, so I thought I'd add it here in case anyone else was wondering the same thing.

Q: For the strawberries in particular, do you use a regular strawberry jam recipe or do you have to do something to compensate for the fact that the fruit was/is frozen?

A: I just defrost the strawberries, mash them, measure out the amount called for on the pectin box, and make the jam. They are watery when defrosted, but most jam and jelly recipes tell you to add water to the pulp or juice so that you have so many cups (usually 5 or so). I figure the water from defrosting works the same way, so I don't worry about it. Same for blueberries or any of them. Just use the fruit for the full amount of pulp or juice called for in the recipe and you'll never know the difference on PB&J or toast!

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing your winter canning adventures. There's something fulfilling about seeing food put away - even when it's not your own! Wonderful effort, and I'm sure they'll be enjoyed. :)

Leigh said...

Chris, I agree. It's always heartening to see a shelf or two full of newly canned goods. :)

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

That all looks so good! Can I come and live at your house!! Nancy

Sandy Livesay said...


You've been very busy canning!!! Breakfast toast with peanut butter and jelly/jam....YUM. Do you make peanut butter from scratch?

Leigh said...

And we'll eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three times a day!

Leigh said...

Sandy, I tried to grow peanuts one year form making peanut butter, but that was a fail. I should try again. Peanut butter is one of the staples that I buy. I get one of the natural brands and reuse the glass jars for storage. At this point we'd just have to do without PB if the sugar hit the fan. But you've got me wondering how I would store it long term. Probably have to store the peanuts and make as needed. My Country Living Grain Mill has the accessories for making nut butters.

DFW said...

Great job Leigh. They all look wonderful. I must say that your haul would last us about 2 or 3 years! Do you use that lovely wine press for cheese making as well?

Susan said...

Wow, pretty impressive. I've given up using pectin in most of my jams, so I guess that makes them fruit spreads as well. I cut way back on the sugar too. It frees me up to try a lot more combos. My favorites right now are Pear Lavender & Caramelized Pear Ginger, and this year I did Peach Lavender as well which is a new fave. I don't use a lot of jam in the traditional way, but love it stirred into plain yogurt and to make pan sauce or glaze for meat.

Anonymous said...

mmm...I canned in the fall, I actually did pumpkin puree this last fall from some of the pumpkins we got from our garden before we moved. Our family likes frozen blueberries so I froze several rounds of those this past fall too, and I dried a full ten pound bin of apples. It was a productive fall, though I've not heard of winter canning before, it makes complete sense. Thank you for sharing this fun thing with all of us. The warmth and the smells must be amazing in your home. *big smile* Have a great day today and a wonderful week. Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

deb harvey said...

'ask jackie'at 'backwoods home magazine' has recipes for canning nuts. keeps rancicity away.
you couldn't can peanut butter sagely, could you?
but could make a batch at a time with canned nuts.
when i was a kid, a neighbor grew peanuts on his farm and just stored them fresh in the shell in a barrel on the stair landing.

deb harvey said...

'safely', not sagely.

Leigh said...

I've tried using the wine press to press cheese, but can't say the cheeses turned out very well. For pressing fruit, there's a second perforated stainless steel cylinder that fits inside the outer one, and the pressing plate fits exactly on that. That second cylinder is too small for cheese but without it the disk doesn't completely cover the cheese, so they turn out kinda lopsided looking. Last year I bought myself a real cheese press, so I'm hoping for some nice looking cheeses this cheese making season. :)

Leigh said...

Oh my, those sound wonderful, I need recipes!

The lower sugar does make a difference in the jelling, I've found too. But we like the spreads just as well. :)

Leigh said...

10 pounds of dried apples, wow! You've been busy too.

Winter canning works well for me because it relieves the time pressure that I feel when the harvest is in full swing. Also works well when I'm only getting small amounts at each picking. I can often have a goodly amount at the end of the harvest for a bigger batch in the canner.

Leigh said...

Jackie Clay is a treasure when it comes to that kind of thing! I'll have to check out their website for more info. I've recently been trying dry-pack vacuum canning (blog post soon) but they say not to do nuts because of the oil content.

For nuts in general, I've been reading that they store better in the shell. I've found that to be true of pecans, at least.

I may have to try peanuts again this year. I doubt I'd get enough for a year's worth of peanut butter, but even a little homegrown would be good.

Leigh said...

That makes sense. :) Too bad blogger doesn't have an edit feature for comments. I know I would certainly use it.

Ed said...

I did not know canning squash was a no-no. After reading several sites though, even though mine is a puree when I can it, I cook it down (initially cubed) quite a bit before canning to remove the water and I assume that process is enough to kill any botulism before I can it and kill any that I might introduce in that process. I've never had any problems but I think I will probably refrain from giving anyone a jar in the future and just use it for home consumption.

Leigh said...

Basically the gov say it's because there's no scientific evidence that canning pumpkin and winter squash purees is safe. (Article here.) They recommend cubed rather than mashed. I'm not sure why there's no evidence for that yet there is for everything else, but that's the official take on it. I'm like you though, for something like that I just wouldn't give it as gifts.

Farmer Barb said...

Very nice! I look forward to being able to get my fruit this year. My cages will be tweaked and set into place VERY early. I miss Elderberry. I haven't had them in years. They grow wild on the roadsides in MA. My winter activity this year is stump digging and learning to shear sheep!

Leigh said...

Getting the fruit is the first step! The one I miss is muscadines. We've only gotten a harvest our first year here, but not a good one since.

Sounds like your at 100% again Barb, glad to hear it!

Peg Cherre said...


Susan said...

No real recipes. The fruit & lavender ones are basically fill the pot with fruit (I don't bother peeling or pitting/coring since I'll run it through the food mill) and lavender buds in a sachet. I leave the sachet in for a half hour or so (or until I remember to take it out). I cook the fruit until it is very soft, run it through the mill, then add sugar and cook until it's a consistency I like. The lavender adds a nice floral note without being really identifiable as lavender. I'm planning to try a lavender/Meyer lemon jelly next time I'm doing some canning. I'll let you know how that goes.

The caramelized pear came about because I forgot my 1st batch of pear-lavender on the stove until I smelled caramel. It over powered the lavender, but I thought ginger could stand up to it, & it does.

Leigh said...


Leigh said...

I've grown lavender for a number of years be have never done anything with it. Seems I should harvest some next summer and experiment.

Renee Nefe said...

I need a few days home from the theater so I can can the broth from bones in my freezer. oye! I used up the last of the chicken broth recently. still have beef...must come up with more beef soup recipes that the pickies will eat.