By Barbara Beltrami
If you haven’t wanted to go into crowded stores because of COVID-19, you’ve gotten so frustrated with the internet or items being out of stock that you’re ready to throw your computer out the window or you’re at your wits’ end trying to think of gifts that will say you’re thinking of those you can’t be with, take heart. It’s not too late to tie on your apron and make some gifts in your kitchen. Here are a few ideas and recipes for cooking some favorites, putting them in sealed, sterilized jars and processing them in a boiling water bath. Make your own labels or have the spouse or the kids help you, wrap the jars in cellophane and tie with a pretty bow. Go ahead, do it and delight friends, neighbors or family.
YIELD: Makes about 5 half-pint jars
9 or 10 medium bell peppers (assorted colors)
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 packet Certo liquid pectin
Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water or dishwasher. Cut peppers open and discard seeds, then chop very finely. Drain and press out about half the juice. Measure two cups of peppers and juice into a large saucepan; add vinegar and stir. Add pectin to peppers and mix well. Place over high heat; stir mixture till it comes to a full rolling boil. Stir in sugar immediately, then boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
With metal cooking spoon, skim off foam, then ladle quickly into jars, leaving 1/8 inch on top. With wet paper towel wipe rims and threads of jar, place dome lids on top, then screw on lid rings, but not too tightly as heat will cause them to expand. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Upon removal or shortly thereafter you will hear lids pop which means a vacuum seal has been achieved Sometimes a firm tap with your finger will nudge the lids that haven’t popped. (If they don’t pop and there is no slight depression in the center of the lid, they have failed to seal. Refrigerate them and use them within one to two weeks if this happens.) When cool enough to handle moderately tighten rings on all jars.Let cool, then affix labels. Suggested serving: with cold cuts, hamburgers, cold sliced meat or meat loaf.
YIELD: Makes 6 half-pint jars
1 pound brown sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup shredded fresh peeled ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
3 pounds peaches, washed, pitted and chopped
In a large pot combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Heat to a rolling boil; stir constantly. Add onions, green pepper and peaches; heat to rolling boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until very thick.
Meanwhile sterilize jars and lids. Ladle chutney into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of tops. With a damp paper towel wipe rims and threads of jars, then put lids and screw bands on. Tighten bands but not hard. Process in boiling water bath 5 to 10 minutes; remove and wait for lids to pop and jars to cool as in recipe above for green pepper relish. Suggested serving: with roasted meat or poultry.
YIELD: Makes 4 half-pint jars
3 1/2 cups pared, cored mashed apples and pears
6 to 6 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 packet Certo liquid pectin
Sterilize jars and lids. In a very large pot combine all the ingredients except pectin. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard one minute; immediately remove from heat and stir in pectin. Stir and skim for 5 minutes. Ladle into hot jars within 1/8 inch from the top. With damp paper towel, wipe tops and threads of jars. Put lids and screw bands on jars and tighten but not hard. Process in boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove, wait for lids to pop and jars to cool as in recipe for pepper relish above, then affix labels. Suggested serving: with toast, croissants, English muffins or scones.