Good Things to Can in Autumn

apples at Three Springs

Over the last couple of days, the weather in Philly has shifted from unseasonably warm to wonderfully crisp and just a little bit rainy (which as a former Portlander, delights me). It’s got me thinking about all the lovely jams and preserves there are to make this time of year and so I thought I’d dig down into the archives and pull together a few of my autumn favorites.


Piles of green tomatoes are often a challenge this time of year. Make yourself a big batch of green tomato chutney, or pickle them on up.


Pears are the best thing ever right now and there’s just so much you can do with them. Seckel pear jam with brown sugar and cardamom. Pear vanilla jam. Pear cinnamon jam. Red pear lavender jam. Pear cranberry jam. On the pickled side of things, make sure to try these pickled asian pears (it’s a recipe from one of Karen Solmon’s Asian Pickles e-books).


And we can’t forget apples! Applesauce! Spiced apple butter! For something a little tangy, a batch of apple cranberry jam. For something a little spicy, try apple ginger jam or my beloved honey lemon apple jam. There’s also mulled cider jelly (which is great for holiday giving) and quince jelly (okay, not an apple, but still lovely).

cubed pumpkin

Finally, on the pressure canning side of things, there’s always pumpkin cubes. It’s a great way to preserve winter squash if you don’t have appropriate cold storage for them or if you want to have some homemade, shelf stable, ready to use pumpkin.

What are you making these days?

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Peanut Butter Banana Granola

speckled bananas (1)

We all have our ways of dealing with overripe bananas. Some make quick breads. Others freeze them for smoothies. Still others make up giant batches of waffles for quick breakfasts. I used reside firmly in the banana bread camp, but as I work to reduce the amount of sugar and refined grains I eat, a tempting loaf of quick bread just doesn’t seem like the smartest choice.

peanuts and sunflower seeds (1)

Still, as I stood in the kitchen earlier today staring down a pair of very black bananas, I knew I needed to do something with them quickly or surrender them to the garbage. Banana bread was tempting, but a batch of granola just seemed more sensible. Peanut butter banana granola.

honey, mashed banana, and melted peanut butter

I melted 1/4 cup of peanut butter with 1/2 cup of honey. Once it reached a boil, I whisked in two mashed bananas and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and then poured it over 4 cups of oats, 1 cup of salted peanuts, and 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. I stirred until the oats were entirely coated with the hot honey, peanut butter, and banana slurry.

mixing granola (1)

Once the ingredients were all incorporated, I spread it out on a rimmed cookie sheet and popped it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about half an hour. Granola is a tricky beast and needs regular stirring, so don’t stray far. If you prefer, you can also cook it at a lower temperature for longer, but I had an errand to run and so needed it to be done quickly.

tray of granola

Once it was done baking, I scraped the granola into a mound in the center of the baking dish and pressed with the back of a spatula to help encourage crunchy clusters.

top of granola jar

I am quite happy with the way this granola turned out. While it’s neither aggressively banana-y or peanutty, it’s got good flavor and is satisfyingly crunchy. I didn’t add any dried fruit, but will probably add a little palmful of raisins when I eat it to up the sweetness a little.

If you make yourself a batch, take care to let the granola cool completely before funneling it into a storage jar (my batch filled a half gallon exactly). I think I rushed it a little and I’ve found a few softer clusters. It’s certainly not going to stop me from eating it, but I wish I’d been more patient.

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Giveaway: Microplane Adjustable Slicer with Julienne Blade

Adjustable Microplane Slicer

Last year, on a whim I picked up an inexpensive, handheld slicer. Smaller than a mandoline and far easier to clean than a food processor, it quickly became one of my go-to tools for making salads, shredding Brussels sprouts, and prepping vegetables for pickles.

I liked that slicer so much that when canning season started, I packed it into the bag of tools I take to classes and then promptly left it behind someplace on the eastern seaboard. Since then, I’ve been meaning to pick up a new slicer, but it kept sliding down the priority list.

shredded sprouts

Make this shredded sprout saute! The recipe is up on Table Matters.

Happily, my procrastination has actually paid off. Microplane has recently introduced a new adjustable slicer (it even has a julienne blade that you can drop in to make nice long ribbons) and sent me one to try out. It’s razor sharp, simple to handle, and easy to store. It’s miles better than my first little slicer (and I thought that one was the bee’s knees) and I am totally delighted by it.

Thanks to the nice folks at Microplane, I have one of these nifty slicers to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite shredded or sliced recipe.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, October 11, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random (using and will be posted on Sunday, October 13, 2013.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Microplane sent me a slicer to try and is also providing the one for this giveaway. My opinions remain my own. 

Upcoming Classes: Pressure Canning! Apple Pie Filling! Autumn Retreat!

class image revised

Teaching classes is one of the best parts of my job. It’s when I get to come out from behind the stove or computer and spend some time showing many of you lovely people how to jam, pickle, and can. I have a number of classes on the schedule for the coming weeks, but I have just three that I want to particularly emphasize right now.

This Wednesday, October 9, I’m teaching a pressure canning class at Cooking Spotlight in Phoenixville, PA. For those of you who are scared of your pressure canners, this session will put you at ease and will have you preserving low acid things like chicken stock and made from scratch beans in no time (I’m going to demonstrate the pressure canner using a batch of onion rosemary jam). The class is from 6:30 – 9 pm and costs $55. Click here to sign up.

My last class of the season at Indy Hall is this Saturday, October 12 from 11 am – 1 pm. We’re making spiced apple pie filling, which is the best stuff ever to have on hand for quick holiday desserts and easy brunch treats. I’ll show you how to use Clear Jel, a canning-safe thickener. Class is from 11 am to 1 pm and costs $50 per person. Leave a comment or email me to sign up.

The last class I want to spotlight is my weekend-long canning retreat at Rowe Center in Western Massachusetts. This workshop starts in the evening of Friday, November 1 and runs through lunchtime on Sunday, November 3. To further entice you to join me for that weekend, I’ve included the outline of canning activities I have planned after the jump. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about that weekend, because I really would love to have a few more of you join me! And if the outline has you convinced, you can find registration information here.

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Links: End of Season Stonefruit and Winners

Using up the last egg. Good thing there's a farmers market tomorrow

Most weeks, I use this space above these links to share some of what’s going on in my life. This week, things have been blessedly quiet in my household, so instead, I’m sharing a little tidbit from my singer songwriter sister’s life.

About a year ago, I helped Raina set up a blog called Fam on the Road, so that she and her husband could share bits and pieces of their lives as touring musicians and parents. On Friday, she posted an open letter as a response to all the craziness that’s been going down in the world of Miley Cyrus, Sinead O’Connor, and Amanda Palmer and it’s truly lovely, both in the writing and in the sentiment. If you have a moment, I highly encourage you to read it.

Now, onto the links…

Big Mouth Funnels

bigmouth funnel winners So many thanks to everyone who took the time to enter last week’s Bigmouth Flat Pack Funnel giveaway. It was such a kick to read about all the different pieces of kitchen and cookware that you’d like to see redesigned. Who knows, maybe someday it will happen! The winners are:

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Preserves in Action: Tomato Jam

greens, ricotta and tomato jam on toast

I have fallen into something of a lunchtime routine. I start a couple slices of toast, pull out a jar of tomato jam, and then rummage around, looking for some leftover to add to bridge the toast and jam. Earlier today, I piled the toast high with some leftover braised collards and a little ricotta cheese before spooning on a little jam.

fromage blanc and tomato jam


Last week, I spread my toast with a little fromage blanc and then added the the tomato goodness (I also had a giant salad of arugula, baby lettuce, and chopped apple). I’ve also used this same formula with leftover roast chicken, baked tofu, and even cold steamed broccoli.

How are you guys using your preserves these days?

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