Apple Pie Filling Gifts

My homemade gifts for Christmas this year were canned goodies.  I blogged about canning cherry syrup/jam back in August, but I had to wait for this post because several of you readers got the “homemade apple pie filling!”  I live right next to apple country here in PA, so it only made sense to can a variety of local apples when they were in season during October.  I found the recipe I wanted to try at Food in Jars.  I bought my Clear Gel from Amazon after I quickly realized I could not find it in the stores.  And my spices were from Penzey’s (my favorite spice store).  I made two batches – 6 pints and 6 quarts (all jars from the wedding).  The batch tasted delicious and it was just as much of a sticky mess as the cherries.  I just hope it stayed delicious – I gave them all away!

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Canning Jam

I started to feel inspired to can about this time last year.  It was clear that the owner of our house before us canned from all the labeled shelves in the basement and the canning oven.  And since I was using mason jars in the wedding, it made even more sense!  My friend Kelsie cans and gave us a jar of relish when we went her to house last winter.  And my friend Kristy just started canning too!  So after the wedding, I got started with two batches of cherry and plum jam using recipes from the Ball book and Food in Jars.  I recommend both of these books highly.

Jam is a sticky mess, but worth it.  I made 8 jelly jars of cherry jam in my first attempt.And then 9 jars of cherry/plum jam in my second attempt, a week later.  The cherry pitter I bought is totally worth it.  I only dropped one jar after it had been processed (thankfully just lightly on the counter, so it went straight into the fridge).  

I think my jams are a little syrupy…the hot mixture was “sheeting” though, so I thought it was good.  I will leave it cook for longer next time I think.  But I’m kind of jammed out right now.  I want to try some pickles now, while that is still in season!  I have a new pressure cooker, but I still need to have my extension office test it for me before I use it.  And this fall I am going to go crazy with the apples! Looking forward to many more canning opportunities!