Throughout my childhood and teenage years, my parents’ standard holiday gift for friends and family was a bag of my dad’s homemade pancake mix (in particularly flush years, we’d also gift a bottle of maple syrup). The bag would also contain printed instructions on how to turn the mix into batches of fluffy cakes or waffles. I have it on good authority that people looked forward with great anticipation to those pancake mix gifts.
Over the years, we were also the recipients of many a homemade holiday gift, including jars of lemon curd from our cousins in the Bay Area, bottles of homemade coffee liqueur and divided plastic plates from my dad’s business partner, overflowing with cookies, fudge and caramels, hand-wrapped in squares of waxed paper.
In recent years, as my canning practice has grown, more and more of the holiday gifts I give are home-jarred edibles. This year, I’m planning to give my Philadelphia cousins jars of apple butter and apple-cranberry jam, along with mini-loaves of cranberry bread. If you’d like to give your friends and family their own jars of apple-cranberry jam, the recipe is after the jump (it’d be great with some scones on Christmas morning).
I’ll be posting more ideas for gifts in jars in the coming weeks, in the hopes that I’ll be able to inspire you to give your own gifts in jars this year.
- 8 cups of peeled and diced apple approximately 5-6 large apples, 1/2 inch dice. Use a softer apple like a Golden Delicious. Firm apples won't cook down as well.
- 4 cups of whole cranberries
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 lemons zested and juiced
- Combine the apples, cranberries, sugar and water in a large pot (use a big one, this jam will bubble) over high heat. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that develops on the top of the fruit. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop and the apples soften.
- Add the lemon zest and juice and simmer until the liquid in the pot begins to thicken (because both apples and cranberries are naturally high in pectin, you won't need any additional pectin to help this jam set, as long as you cook it until thick and syrup-y).
- Ladle into prepared jars, wipe rims, apply lids and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Label nicely and distribute to those you love.