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Canning can add flavor, spice, fun to winter

By April Reese
University of Georgia

In the spring and summer, vegetables from gardens can keep you canning or freezing until you wear out. But by the time winter comes, you may be ready to try some different preserves.

New recipes from the Center for Home Food Preservation can make canning a fun, delicious activity to add flavor and spice to the winter, says Elizabeth Andress, director of the center.

"There are recipes perfect for people yearning to can in the winter," Andress said. "You don't always have to can with fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of those preserves also make nice holiday gifts."

Orange jelly

This recipe calls for frozen concentrated juice and powdered pectin. It yields five or six half-pint jars of a flavorful orange jelly for toast or biscuits on dreary winter mornings.

You'll need:

  • 12 ounces concentrated orange juice, thawed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box powdered regular pectin
Sterilize your canning jars by boiling empty, washed and rinsed jars for 10 minutes in water. The easiest way to do this is to stand empty jars up on a rack in a boiling-water canner filled with clean water.

Measure the sugar and set it aside. Mix the juice and water in a saucepan and stir in the powdered pectin. Bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once it's boiling, stir in all of the sugar. Keep stirring and bring the mixture to a full boil that can't be stirred down. Let it boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove it from heat and skim off the foam quickly. Pour the hot jelly immediately into the hot, sterile jars, leaving one-fourth inch of headspace.

Wipe the jar rims with a dampened paper towel. Adjust the two-piece, metal canning lids. Process them in a boiling-water canner for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the altitude.

Easy hot sauce

If jelly isn't your thing, try an easy hot-sauce recipe to spice things up. It's great for stirring into vegetables or cheese dips and spicing up soups and chili. It yields four half-pint jars.

You'll need:

  • 8 cups canned, diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped Serrano peppers
  • 4 cups distilled white vinegar (5 percent)
  • 2 teaspoons canning salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spices
Wear gloves when handling, cutting and seeding hot peppers or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Start by washing half-pint canning jars. Keep them hot until you're ready to use them. Prepare lids by the manufacturer's directions.

Place the mixed pickling spices in a spice bag and tie the ends firmly. Mix all ingredients in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Bring them to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let them simmer for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.

Press the mixture through a food mill. Return the liquid to the pot and boil it for 15 minutes. Then pour it into the clean, hot, half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if needed. Wipe the jar rims with a damp paper towel to remove any residue and apply two-piece metal canning lids.

Process the hot sauce in a boiling-water canner for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the altitude. Allow it to cool undisturbed 12 to 24 hours and check the seals.

More recipes

For more winter recipes, specific process times for your altitude or tips on year-round preservation, visit the Center for Home Food Preservation Web site at homefoodpreservation.com.

The center is hosted by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

(April Reese is a writer for the National Center for Home Food Preservation with the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.)

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