Last May I started some serious planning for canning season. I had lists, recipes, and all the right plants for the community garden plot. Armed with the Ball Blue Book and a brand new water bath canner, I had dubbed it the year of the Mason Jar. This was going to be the canning season of all canning seasons, with more than 20 different recipes to try. It’s easy to get overly ambitious after being shut in the house for a long Minnesota winter.
Fast forward to early November through a summer of weddings, gardening, family vacations, and ice cream—lots and lots of ice cream. I opened my pantry last week and was disappointed to find a few jars of pickled peppers, some chili soup base and a whole bunch of empty jars. Even my best plans to be a super-canner fell short this season. Of the 26 recipes I had planned to make, only 7 ended up on the shelf. What? How does this happen?
Determined not to let the season disappear, I started frantically searching for late-fall canning recipes. It was too late for any of the pickles, jams, and sauces I’d put on my list. And I found plenty of the traditional apple sauces, butters and end of the season soup recipes, but nothing that cheered my canning spirit. “Traditional” was not going to ease my disappointment in a missing the chance to preserve mid-summer glory. That was until I found a cranberry apple jam recipe this week from Food in Jars.
Both cranberries and apples are readily available right now and are a perfect way to wrap up the canning season. I adjusted the recipe (eased back on the sugar, left the apples a bit larger and added cinnamon), gathered the fruit and put up two batches in an evening after work. The deep ruby color, with chunks of apples and tart cranberries are hands-down the most stunning thing I’ve ever sealed in a jar. I’m looking forward to giving it away during the holidays and enjoying it on a warm slice of bread this winter.
So that’s how cranberry apple jam saved my canning season. Next season I’m planning to reign in the canning ambition and stick to putting up a few favorites. “Revising expectations” as my husband would say. We’ll see what happens when that end-of-a-long-winter ambition arrives.
Cranberry Apple Jam
Adapted from Food in Jars
8 C. apples cut into ¾” chunks
4 C. fresh cranberries
4 C. sugar
1 C. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ C. lemon juice
- Prepare boiling hot water bath, lids, and canning jars. I made 2 pints and 4 half-pints for each batch. Select and sterilize whatever size jars you prefer.
- Combine apples, cranberries, sugar, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid scorching and slowly break apart apples.
- When berries open and apples are just soft, add lemon juice and cinnamon and continue cooking for 7-8 more minutes until jam thickens. Cooking time depends on the type of apple (pectin in apples and cranberries may vary). Jam is ready when some just remains on a wooden spoon pulled straight up out of the pot.
- Ladle into hot jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Amy Sippl is a new contributor to Simple, Good, and Tasty. She grew up in rural Wisconsin, but now calls St. Paul her home. She writes about her successes and struggles to eat and grow local food on her blog: Minnesota Locavore. Her last article for us was: Locavore? Then Why Not Locapour?