Here are the two simple and super-delicious recipes we used to practice the water-bath canning process. If you're not quite up for canning yet, they can me made and simply refrigerated for a week or two (if they last that long). Full disclosure: I stole these recipes from Whole Foods, where I learned how to can.
Red Pepper Jelly
1 ½ lbs chopped red bell peppers (6 cups)
2 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp pectin
3 ¼ c. sugar
1 c. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
¾ tsp kosher or sea salt
Pulse bell peppers with red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely minced. Whisk together pectin and ¼ c sugar in a small bowl.
Stir together pepper mixture, vinegar, butter, salt, and remaining 3 cups sugar in a heavy pot. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Gradually add pectin mixture, whisking constantly. Return jelly to a vigorous boil, stirring constantly, and boil another 1-2 minutes. It will thicken only slightly. Remove from heat.
Pour hot jam into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 5 – ½ pints.
Sweet Onion Jam
4 cups sweet onions, chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp sugar
¾ c honey
2 tsp cinnamon (I prefer Chinese five spice)
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Melt butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, salt and ¼ cup water. Cook over low heat until the onions caramelize, about 8 minutes. To get the best results, resist the urge to stir. These steps can also be done in a slow cooker.
Transfer onions to a blender or food processor. Add honey and cinnamon or five spice. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 4 - 1/2 pints.
I believe there is one more program scheduled for this year with an herbalist and there may be more next year if any of you wise women want to get involved.