Canning Is Coming Back: Learn to Preserve Your Local Produce

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Home canning and food preservation are making a comeback!! The local food movement and resurgence of Farmers Markets along with the increase in availability of local produce have spurred a canning trend. For the past several years Ball the makers of jars and canning equipment report a 30% increase each year!! We at Cooperative Extension have experienced a greater number of calls and interest in the canning process and recipes as well.  All this is no surprise to those of us who grew up enjoying the summer bounty for months longer than the growing season!

Food safety concerns have also driven today’s public to learn more about how their food is processed, as well as doing it themselves. But REMEMBER – “This Ain’t your Grandma’s Canning!!”

Over the years much research has been conducted on safer ways to preserve our foods. No longer should we cover the food on the Sunday table following lunch just to uncover at suppertime. We have come along way!!

If you are interested in learning more about the many methods of food preservation, canning, freezing, and drying give us a call at Lenoir County Cooperative Extension 252-527-2191. Even better we are hosting a workshop for all of you “want to be” canners on Thursday, June 11, beginning at 2:00pm. Please call the number listed above to sign up or for more information!

Meanwhile for all of you experienced canners, here are a few non-traditional recipes for this year’s bounty. These are all “food safety” approved.

Beet & Onion Pickles

8 cups prepared beets, about 4 lbs.

3 cups sliced onions or peeled pearl onions

2-1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 cups water

1 tbsp. mustard seed

1 tsp. Each: salt, whole allspice and cloves

6 inch cinnamon sticks

5 Pint (16 oz.) Jars 

Combine onions, vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seed, salt, allspice, cloves, cinnamon sticks in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil gently 5 minutes. Add beets and return to a full boil. Remove from heat. Discard cinnamon sticks.

Pack hot beets and liquid into hot jars and close with 2-piece lids. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in fridge. Allow to sit for 3 weeks to get the best-pickled taste. Use within 3 months. Yields about 5 (16 oz.) Pints

Pineapple Chili Salsa

(Serve with grilled pita bread brushed with olive oil for a simple but delicious appetizer.)

4 cups cubed seeded peeled papaya (about 2 lb. or 2 med)

2 cups cubed cored peeled fresh pineapple (about half of a medium pineapple) or canned pineapple (about 1 20-oz can)

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup limejuice

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup chopped seeded Anaheim peppers (Hot banana peppers may be used as a substitute)

2 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion

2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

½ Pint (8ounce) glass preserving jars with lids and bands 

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Combine papaya, pineapple, raisins, lemon juice, limejuice, pineapple juice, peppers, green onion, cilantro and brown sugar in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Yields about 6 (8 oz.) half pints.

Fresh Veggie Relish

8 medium tomatoes, cored, peeled, and quartered

6 medium zucchini, peeled and quartered lengthwise

5 large sweet green peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into chunks

2 medium onions, cut into quarters

4 cloves garlic

2 cups vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 teaspoons mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon pepper

7 (16oz.) pint or 14 (8oz.) half pint freezer jars

  • Chop tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender. Drain.

Place vegetables in a large glass or plastic container. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 24 hours in the refrigerator. Rinse and drain well.

Combine vinegar, sugar, water and spices. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in vegetables. Return to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool relish to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Ladle relish into clean jars to fill line. Remove air bubbles. Twist on lids. Label.

Freeze up to 1 year. Yields 7 (16 ounce) pints.

Blueberry Syrup

(Great with a waffle or as an ice cream topping)

8 cups blueberries, crushed (about 3-1/2 lb.)

6 cups water, divided

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

3 cups granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

3 (16 0z.) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Combine blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.

Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil.  Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Combine sugar and remaining 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F, adjusting for altitude. Add blueberry juice. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Ladle hot Blueberry Syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Yields 3 (16 0z.) pints.

Written By

Photo of Tammy Kelly, Ed. DTammy Kelly, Ed. DCounty Extension Director (252) 527-2191 tammy_kelly@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Jun 2, 2015
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