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A First Time Canner!!!

November 4, 2010

My sister, Kathryn, arrived in Toronto from Florida early early Wednesday morning.  She has come up to learn how to can, share in some memory making moments with her big sister, and help Matt and I with our first canning party.  Isn’t she a trooper!?!

After just a few hours of sleep we got up and began scouring the canning books in search of the perfect first time recipe.  I suggested that she focus on the basic food she would like to use and go from there.  Kath decided that with our cranberry marsh only minutes away that CRANBERRIES would be fun to work with…and, we found the perfect recipe in Canning for a New Generation ~ Minted Cranberry Relish with Walnuts.  Just the name of this sounds delicious.

The three of us headed off in search of our ingredients.  Matt actually took the day off work so we could all enjoy a trip to the Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh  in Bala.

The marsh is a beautiful place and I encourage everyone who visits our area to make a special point of visiting this spectacular part of the world.  The whole process of growing and harvesting these tart red little gems is amazing but so is the wildlife that surrounds it.  Cranberries grow in low-lying marshy areas that protect and preserve a tremendous variety of wildlife.  We were fortunate to see a very large healthy beaver forging for a meal.

The Johnston’s have a wonderful website that will answer all of your questions so check it out ~ Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh!  Here are a few shots taken while visiting.  Unfortunately, we should have arrived a few weekends early to watch the cranberries being harvested and to enjoy the Bala Cranberry Festival…next year!

Cranberries are a perennial that grow on an evergreen plant.  Until my visit I assumed (like many others) that they grew in water.  The truth is that these evergreen marsh beds are flooded three times a year as part of the harvesting process. Huh!

The picture (above) shows some of the equipment that is used to skim or harvest the cranberries.

Now, back to the kitchen to get my sister CANNING!!!  Kathryn, is my younger sister, who flew 3000+ kilometers to share in my joy of canning…and she wanted to attend our party.  In order, to attend she is going to have to can.  So let’s get to it.  First, we went over the importance of a clean kitchen.  I always start out by using a bleach/water solution to clean my cutting board and countertops.  Then, the jars are washed in soapy water and placed in the oven at 250F for 30 minutes to sterilize while the hot water bath is filled and brought to a boil. 

Kath poured over our canning books and even scoured the internet looking for just the right recipe.  It took some time but she finally selected one from CANNING for a New Generation by Liana Krisoff.  Great choice!

MINTED CRANBERRY RELISH WITH WALNUTS from Canning for a New Generation:

  • 9 cups cranberries (three 12-ounce bags), washed and drained
  • 2 navel oranges, scrubbed and coarsely chopped (peel included)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  1. Prepare for water bath canning.  Sterilize jars in the oven at 250F for 20-30 minutes. 
  2. In a food processor, work in batches to finely chop the cranberries and oranges.  It’s best to just pulse the machine so the pieces don’t end up too fine.   Note: we are still using my mom’s 1970s cuisinart, a wedding gift over 4 decades ago…still works like a charm.
  3. In a stainless steel preserving pan, scoop out the blended cranberry-orange mixture and add the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar stirring to combine.
  4. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the apple and walnuts into the blender and pulse until finely chopped.  Add them, along with the mint, to the preserving pan.  Return the relish to a boil, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.
  6. Ladle the hot relish into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 
  7. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary by topping up with additional relish. 
  8. Wipe rims using a damp paper towel.  Center lid and ring on jar screwing on until resistance is met and they are finger tip tight.  Place in hot water bath, bring to a rolling boil and process for 15 minutes.  When time is up turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let jars stand in hot water bath for 5 minutes.  Remove jars, check seals, label and store.

Kath waits with bated breath for the popping sounds of each jar and cheers as all 4 jars seal before her eyes!!

Put up Total (we did 2 batches):

  • 6 x 500mL regular mouth mason jars
  • 2 x 500mL fancy wide mouth mason jars
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet Barton permalink
    November 6, 2010 9:45 pm

    Hey Guys! Read a lot of the recent work on your site! It is fantastic. What fun you have been having!!! I sure wish that I was with you all!!!!!!!!!!!! Cannot wait to see the pics from tonight BUT that will have to wait until late tomorrow. Enjoy an extra hour of sleep tonight, you will need it. Hope you will have a Muskoka Mag. for me. I can hardly wait for a chance to read and see the articles. Love, M:)

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