Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canning Season

I'm not lucky enough to have a garden (even if I could get things to grow)...but we do have a great farmer's market & this is the time of year that apples go on sale...there are lots of great deals. I got apples for $1 a pound at the store, and a huge box of less-than-perfect tomatoes for $10 at the farmers market.

This is my first year to can...I always thought it would be complicated & time consuming, but with all the kids in school, I thought I would give it a try & it turns out it's really not that hard. But I'm sticking to water bath canning for now...until I can acquire a pressure canner.

So, I've canned 4 things so far..
11 pints of crushed tomatoes (look here)
6 pints apples
2 pints apple butter &
3 pints apple cider jelly

Apple Butter
(it's really, really good)

You need:
3 1/2 c. apple cider
8 large apples(about 4 1/2 lbs)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher or pickling salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3-inch cinnamon stick

*pint jars (or half pints)
*water bath canner ...if you don't have one, use an extra large heavy pot with a jar rack, or layer extra rings  from your canning lids on the bottom..you just want to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot (that's what I do)
*2 part canning lids
*large funnel
*canning tongs & magnetic lid lifter (you can find a kit in the canning section)

1. Peel, core and slice your apples. Meanwhile bring the apple cider to boil in a large sauce pan. Fill your water bath canner with water (with rings already in the bottom or have rack ready) and heat of high heat-keep it boiling; add clean, empty jars to heat while the water comes to a boil.

2. Add your apples to boiling cider, reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) until tender, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon stick & salt to the apples. 

4. Continue to cook until apples break down, and mixture begins to thicken, about 20 minutes.

5. Remove cinnamon stick.  Carefully transfer apple mixture to a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth.  Return to pan. Cook until it thickens up a little more, about 10 minutes.

6. Carefully remove hot jars from canner, pouring any hot water back into the canner.  Place upside down on a clean towel. Add your rings to the boiling water to heat.  Keep jars hot.  Using a funnel, fill the jars with hot apple butter, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.

7. Run a plastic knife around the inside edge of the jar and through the apple butter to release any air bubbles.  Double check the headspace again..add more apple butter if needed.  Repeat with remaining jars (mine made 2 pints).

8. Wipe the lip of the jar with a damp cloth.  Top with the two-piece lids, the rings hot, tightening rings to finger-tip tightness (you don't want to close it too tight).

9. Carefully lower your hot jars into the water bath canner, return water to boil and cover with lid. Start timer--process 20 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for 1/2 pints.  When finished remove from canner to a clean towel & allow to cool.  Check all the seals (they should be tight, no popping).  Any that have not sealed you can keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Apple Cider Jelly

4 c. cider
1 pkg. powdered pectin
4 1/2 c. sugar

Prepare your canner (see above).

Combine all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan, bring to a boil.  Boil hard for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and skim any foam off the top of the jelly.

Using a funnel, pour your jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove any bubbles.  Wipe lip of jar with a damp cloth and top with two-piece lids, rings hot, and tighten to finger-tip tightness.

Lower your jars into the canner, return to boil, cover and process for 10 minutes (pints)....process 1/2 pints for 5 minutes.


Do you plan on canning? What do you have in mind? Do you have a tips or tricks? Please share! :D

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pretzel-Coated Chicken Tenders

My 5 year old declared these "super-duper good!"...I hope they will be a hit in your family too :)

(there are no quantities...you can easily adjust to how big a batch you would like to make)

prepared honey mustard
chicken (breast cut into wide strips, or tenders)

Place pretzels in the bowl of a food processor & pulse until it resembles bread crumbs (you can also place them in a sealed plastic bag & crush them with something heavy).

Squeeze or spoon some honey mustard into a small bowl, just a few tablespoon (this way you don't contaminate your whole jar with chicken germs).

Brush both sides of the chicken strips with a thin coat of the mustard, then roll in the pretzel crumbs...pressing down to stick the crumbs to the chicken.

Place the chicken on a greased baking sheet & into a 350 oven for about 20 minutes (watch them...it really depends on the size of you chicken & they cook fast).  Enjoy with your favorite dip...or more honey-mustard.

using the same technique, substitute:

toasted panko bread crumbs for the pretzels
dijon mustard for the honey mustard
boneless pork chops for the chicken