Christmas Gifts: Canning

4 Jan

2010 canning

Every year I seem to get a little bit better at giving handmade.  I think it’s because my repertoire of handmade gifts is slowly expanding.  It began with knitting.  Last year I gave some sewn gifts and this year I added canning to the mix.  Who knows? I might be building people houses by next year.

Each month I want to share a roundup of crafty things I’ve been working on.   Whenever I come up with amazingawesomeincrediblefantastic original projects, I’ll post them up here on their own, but anything I’ve pulled from a pattern or recipe will just have to share their posts.

To start that tradition out, I’m sharing some of the Christmas craftiness I indulged in this year.  Since Christmas is such a crafty time, I’m going to split this installment into two posts, starting with my canned goods.

This was my first year canning.  The picture at the top of the post shares the fruits of my year’s worth of labor.  Obviously there were a lot of failures.  A whole day’s worth of canning one weekend left me with one jar of berry jam and a pot full of exploded zucchini salsa.  The one jar I did save didn’t even taste all that great.  I didn’t discover the awesomeness of half-pint sized jars until about 2 weeks before Christmas so a lot of my ventures ended with one large jar of jam.  Now that I’ve discovered the increased gift-giving (and jam-keeping) potential of the smaller jars I think this pile will triple for next year’s presents.

There are a ton of beautiful jam labels out there, but I decided to go the cheapo route.  I didn’t want to buy a new color cartridge for my computer (well, I did, but I didn’t want to spend the money on it) so I just cut out circles of my sadly neglected scrapbooking paper and slapped it on the jar with double-sided tape.

Here are the different types of goodies and links to recipes:
Lemon ginger 2
Actually Easy Lemon Ginger Marmalade

Anytime someone tells you marmalade is easy I suggest you laugh heartily in their face. While the actual cooking of the marmalade is easy (and this recipe turned out much more marmaladey than my other attempt), the prep is unavoidably cumbersome. The finished product was yummy though despite my suspicions that it didn’t cook long enough to make the peel soft and my fear that the ginger might be too clumpy.

Chocolate pear
Pear and Chocolate Jam

I made a ton of this stuff because… who doesn’t love chocolate (besides my coworker who’s allergic – how sad!)? The recipe was super quick and simple, if not detailed.

Cole mugging

My cat decided he couldn’t have me taking pictures without climbing up on the shelves and getting involved.

Orange carrot marmalade
Carrot and Orange Marmalade (from Preserving the Harvest)

This recipe turned out a little watery and took way more time than the Ginger, but for one of my first attempts at canning it was a success.

Spicy pickled carrots
Spicy Pickled Carrots

I haven’t had a chance to try these yet, but I cannot wait. A few weeks a go I had a vegetarian bahn mi sandwich from the Nom Nom Truck. I sliced them pretty thin so these carrots would go great on a sandwich like that. I’m also hoping to put them on tacos and just eating them straight from the jar. Only another week or two…

Nutella
Heavenly Chocolate Hazelnut Almond Spread

I think this may have been the most successful gift (in my mind anyway). It was super easy, came out perfectly and allowed me to use my new food processor. I used grapeseed oil in my first batch rather than canola and liked that better. Maybe just because I prefer grapeseed oil. It wasn’t technically canned, but according to the giftees it wouldn’t have lasted long in the cupboard anyway. Some people used it on popcorn and I dipped homemade soft pretzels into it so it’s versatile, too!

Next up from me: the rest of my Christmas crafting.

~ April

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