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Country canning

Home canning is both an art and a science, says James Coffey, Elkton, Maryland. Coffey has spent the past 20 years perfecting hundreds of home canning recipes he collected from relatives and friends, winning county and state fair competitions with his creations along the way.

"Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by home canning," says Coffey. "I learned how to can from my grandmother, Leona Durham, who did it out of necessity. She used a 1939 Kerr bulletin for all her canning, and I still have it."

Nothing is more satisfying (or colorful) than looking at a pantry full of home-canned goodies from your own garden, he says. Coffey has selected three of his favorite recipes to share here. He welcomes questions or comments. Write to this address:

James R. Coffey
607 E. Pulaski Highway
Elkton, MD 21921

When home canning, use only standard canning jars. These are tempered to withstand the heat inside the canner, and their mouths are specially threaded for sealing canning lids. To sterilize the jars, immerse them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Use screw bands and new flat metal lids with a built-in sealing compound.

Prep: 40 minutes, Stand: 2 hours, Process: 10 minutes

9 cups sliced yellow summer squash (4 to 5 medium)
2 medium onions, sliced (1 cup)
2 medium red sweet peppers, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium green sweet peppers, chopped (1  1/2 cups)
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 1/2 cups cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Step 1: In a 6- to 8-quart stainless steel, enamel, or nonstick kettle combine squash, onions, red sweet peppers, green sweet peppers, and pickling salt. Add water to cover. Cover and let stand for 2 hours. Drain mixture in a large colander. Rinse and drain again.

Step 2: In the kettle combine vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and mustard seeds. Heat to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add squash mixture. Return to boiling. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes.

Step 3: Pack hot squash mixture and liquid into hot, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on racks. Makes about 5 pints (40 servings).

Nutrition facts per serving (1/4 cup): 78 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 176 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 0 g protein.

Prep: 1 hour, Cook: 1 3/4 hours, Process: 10 minutes

2 pounds tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (5 to 6 medium)
12-ounce package cranberries
2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons finely shredded orange peel (optional)
3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Step 1: In a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan combine apples, cranberries, cider, and, if desired, orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Cool mixture slightly. Transfer half the mixture to a blender; cover and blend until smooth. Repeat with remaining apple mixture. Return all apple mixture to the same saucepan.

Step 2: Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours or until thick and mixture mounds on a spoon, stirring often. Mixture should be reduced to about 5 cups. Mixture will thicken further as it stands.

Step 3: Ladle hot cranberry-apple mixture into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on wire racks. Makes 5 half-pints.

Nutrition facts per 1 tablespoon: 42 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

Prep: 45 minutes, Process: 5 minutes

1 1/4 cups mashed or finely chopped blueberries
1 1/4 cups mashed or finely chopped red raspberries
1 1/4 cups mashed or finely chopped blackberries or nectarines
1 1/4 cups mashed or finely chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 3/4-ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin
7 cups sugar

Step 1: In a heavy 8-quart kettle combine berries, lemon juice, and pectin. Cook and stir over high heat until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Add sugar all at once. Return to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam with a metal spoon.

Step 2: Ladle at once into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars; cool on wire racks. Makes 9 half-pints.

Nutrition facts per 1 tablespoon: 45 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

These recipes were tested by the same food authorities who approve all recipes for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a sister publication of Successful Farming magazine.

For 10,000 kitchen-tested recipes, visit the Recipe Center at agriculture.com/go/5995.

For questions about this issue's recipes, write here:

SF Food Editor
1716 Locust Street/LS257
Des Moines, IA 50309
Fax: 515/284-3127

Home canning is both an art and a science, says James Coffey, Elkton, Maryland. Coffey has spent the past 20 years perfecting hundreds of home canning recipes he collected from relatives and friends, winning county and state fair competitions with his creations along the way.

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