Soul in a Jar: Home-canned fruits and vegetables

JOYCE WHITE Special to the AmNews | 9/14/2011, 6:09 p.m.
Soul in a Jar: Home-canned fruits and vegetables

Stir into the pot garlic, onions, dill, coriander seed, salt, black pepper and hot pepper flakes. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about five minutes, stirring a time or two.

Stir in the vinegar, increase the heat and bring the liquid to a boil again. Add the okra, covering well with the spices and liquid.

Bring the liquid to a boil again and cook the okra for two to three minutes, or until just tender. Watch carefully so as not to cook the okra until it is soft and soggy.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Using a large slotted spoon, pack the okra into hot jars until about three-quarters filled.

Pour the vinegar into a stainless steel saucepan, bring to a quick boil and remove from the heat. Pour the hot vinegar into the jars over the okra, leaving about 1/4-inch head space in each jar.

Process the jars of okra for 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack before storing.

Berry Preserves Topping

Makes five half-pints

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries (4 cups)
  • 1 pint blueberries, blackberries or raspberries (2 cups)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, or more if desired, crushed

This delicious topping is easy and makes a nice holiday gift.

Have available five half-pint canning jars and sterilize the jars and all canning utensils. Set aside a 4- or 5-quart heavy stainless steel pot.

Rinse the fruit, discarding the stems and the leaves from the strawberries and any bruised fruit. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices. Leave the berries whole. Place the fruit in a glass bowl and set aside.

Combine the sugar and orange juice in the pot. Crush the cardamom seeds in a coffee grinder or with a rolling pin.

Place the crushed seeds in the center of a 4-inch square of cheesecloth or other thin white cotton cloth. Tie tightly into a knot, making a bag. Add the bag of spice to the pot.

Set the pot on the heat and bring the mixture to a roiling boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Boil for two minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the berries and boil for three more minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the berries and syrup, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the syrup is as thick as honey and shows resistance when stirred.

Remove the pot from the heat and discard the spice bag.

Carefully ladle the fruit into the hot jars, using a funnel if available, leaving 1/2-inch head space in each jar. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Seal the jars at once and place on the screw bands.

Process for 10 minutes. For best flavor, allow the preserves to remain in the jar for two or three weeks to develop flavor before serving.