Intro to Canning and Sweet Canned Blackberries

I’m excited today to present a very special guest post from Sarah at Gazing In and Trail Cooking. As you can see she is multi-talented. She also has a ton of delicious allergy-friendly recipes.

Sarah and I became blog buddies years ago. We both strive for a mostly plant-based diet and generally cook the same kids of foods. One of our differences is that Sarah is great at preserving food. If you have questions about canning or dehydrating you’ll need to ask her because I know nothing.

I am thrilled she agreed to share today and give us an intro to canning along with a recipe for Canned Blackberries. Please welcome Sarah!


Tucked away into a low shelf in many grocery stores are cans of berries. Many people never notice them, and even if they did, would they buy them? They are usually very expensive for a small can, that only has a few berries in it. And are packed in a heavy syrup, which simply means a heavier amount of sugar. The berries become too sweet.
Have a bumper crop of berries given to you by Mother Nature? Ever thought of preserving them for winter? By canning them in a simple syrup, you can drain them later and make pies, cobblers and even mixed into yogurt. And you can control the amount of sugar used. PS: Once you get confident in canning, you can pack these berries in hot apple juice even!
Canning need not be time consuming, nor scary. A few simple tools and you can be making small batches of goodies in your kitchen – that you can enjoy ALL year long. Canning is renewable, resourceful and after a few visits to the water bath, more than pays for itself. A simple kit, such as the Ball® Home Canning Discovery Kit, will get you going:
Home Canning Kit
Canning Utensil Kit
And a few kitchen towels and canning jars, and you are all set. You don’t even need a dedicated water bath canning pot – and large pot will work. If you do decided you love canning, you needn’t spend a lot. A Granite Ware Covered Preserving Canner is all you will need. (Made in the USA as well!)
Canner
Just buy quality upfront. Don’t try to save money with off brand jar – buy Ball or Kerr, they are made in the USA. Same with the lids – only buy them. They are BPA free, made in the USA. Off brands are made in China, so you get what you pay for. I see mason jars as an investment. I often give jars away, but mention this “What is the first rule of the Mason Jar Club? You return the jar and band, and you might get refills” ;-) Funny is, I said that to a guy recently and he was “Oh…that is why people quit giving me stuff”. Hahaha!
Canned Blackberries
Cold Pack Sweet Canned Blackberries
Ingredients:
  •  Blackberries, washed and drained (see below for how many)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 5¼ cups water
Directions:
Wash canning jars, with bands and new lids, in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, and drain on a clean kitchen towel. Bring a large pot of water to boil, take off stove, add in clean jars and bands, and keep covered.
Fill canning pot or large stockpot halfway with water, bring to a near boil, then let simmer.
Make syrup by combining sugars and water, bring to a boil, either use immediately or keep warm.
Drain jars using tongs, place on a clean kitchen towel. Ladle ¼ cup hot syrup into the bars, using a sterilized canning funnel. Pack in 1 cup blackberries, gently tap on counter. Add more berries. Pour hot syrup over the top, then run a sterilized chopstick (or a plastic air bubble remover) around the inside of the jar. Top off with more syrup if needed. Leave a ¼” headspace.
Dip a clean paper towel in hot water, then run around the top of each jar. Place a lid on each jar, then a band, screw on finger tight.
Turn canner up to high, place jars in water bath rack, lower rack into water. Water should cover by 1 – 2″, if not add a bit more from the other pot that held the jars. Bring to a rolling boil, covered, process pint jars for 15 minutes, quart jars for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, carefully remove jars, placing on a clean dry kitchen towel to cool.
Once cooled, check again that seals are down (you should hear the Ping! as each one seals). Gently remove bands (wash, dry and store for your next project. While they look nicer on, if they have water inside from processing, they can rust. If you are giving away your canned items, you can always slip one back on), note on jar or lid what is in jar with a date. Store in a dry/cool/dark area and use within a year.
As always, if you ever go to use a canned item and the lid is not sealed anymore, or bulging, discard the contents immediately!!!!!! (I have only ever lost one jar in all my canning, so don’t fret!) As long as you sterilize the jar, it is fine to reuse later.
Notes:
The syrup makes about 6½ cups, and is considered a “light syrup”. When canning fruit and berries, you will need 1 to 1½ cups of syrup per quart jar, or ½ to ¾ cup per pint jar. Always hedge on the higher amount being needed, and keep an extra jar or two ready to be used “just in case”. That said, you can expect 4 to 6 quart jars or 8 to 10 pint jars total. Now for the berries, I can fit 1 to 2 cups blackberries per pint, so aim to have 15 cups of berries at minimun. If you have extra berries, no loss, just toss them on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to a zip-top freezer bag. You can use frozen blackberries later on for eating, baking and even making jams & jellies.
Disclaimer:
While I can on a glass top stove, I cannot tell you that is a good choice. Many glass top stoves forbid canning in their warranties. This video from Fresh Preserving is helpful, and if you are out of warranty, well…you can be like me ;-)

As you can see from this great guest post canning isn’t nearly as difficult as I though. It is also a lot less expensive than I thought it would be to get started. Don’t forget to stop by Gazing In and Trail Cooking for more great recipe ideas.

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using links on this page I may make a small percentage at no additional cost to you. 

Allergy-Friendly SunButter Cookies

It’s been a really long time since I’ve shared a dessert with you. I don’t make dessert often. With my little guys food allergies I have to use specialty ingredients. Thankfully they are becoming more mainstream and I can find SunButter at most grocery stores.

I first made these allergy-friendly SunButter Cookies last year. It’s taken me a long time to share them but I hope the wait is worth it.

SunButter Cookies that are Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, nut-free

I still prefer to buy most of my “special” items on Amazon. I have an Amazon Prime membership so they are delivered to my door so I don’t have to take the kids in the store. Win-Win. I’ll share links to the products I buy if you are curious. I buy them in bulk but you can purchase smaller amounts.

SunButter Cookies that are Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, nut-free

Sunbutter Cookies

Ingredients

Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat.
  2. “Cream” first four ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl (I use my measuring cup) mix warm water and chia seeds together. Allow them to sit for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  4. In a large bowl mix the remaining dry ingredients together.
  5. Dump all of the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Use your hands to scoop out ping-pong sized cookies and roll them into balls. Roll them in sugar. Use wet hands to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
  7. Flatten them onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.

Serve

This recipe makes about 12 cookies. They will be soft in the middle but firm on the edges, the best of both worlds. They are great for lunch boxes too!

For a little change try adding a 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

SunButter Cookies that are Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, nut-free

Substitutions:

I haven’t made this with peanut butter or other nut butters but if you do please let me know how they turn out. You could use a Gluten and Wheat Free Baking Mix instead of using the flours mentioned above. Be sure to read the labels to check for allergens.

If you like these allergy-friendly SunButter Cookies you should try my Brownies!

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase I may earn a small percent at no extra cost to you.

Don’t Miss The Top 8 Allergen-Free Recipe Collection

This week is your last chance to get The Top 8 Allergen-Free Recipe Collection.

Remember Gabriel? He is a handsome little guy who lives with multiple life threatening food allergies. You can read his story here. He has had over 20 anaphylactic reactions.  He is one tough kid. He also has an incredibly brave Mom who tirelessly advocates for him.

All proceeds of the sale of this book will benefit Gabriel and his family.

I’m doing my part to help and have created The Top 8 Allergen-Free Recipe Collection. It will only be available through the end of August. We have raised almost $60 to send to their family to help offset the expense of their trip to Mayo Clinic. I have also donated money personally and wouldn’t ask you to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself.

Help Me Help Gabe

Would you partner with me? You can give on their Go Fund Me Page or buy this cookbook. It contains 40 Recipes that are free of the top 8 allergens and it’s vegan. The Recipe collection is only $2.99!

There isn’t a lot of pop and circumstance awarded for buying this cookbook and making this donation. You will have my thanks and appreciation. You will be part of making a difference in Gabriel’s life. You will give other food allergy families hope. That is a lot for only $2.99.

Thank you for joining me. Now click here or here to buy the book.

Meal Plan Monday: Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less

We are still celebrating Back to School month here at My Plant-Based Family. I know your kids may not have started school yet but I hope this month has given you some great ideas to get you ready. I’ve still got some things to share.

Back to School Month

We’ve had a Back to School Meal Plan that was filled with my quickest and easiest meals, and Batch Cooking Meal Plan that helped you prepare for the week ahead of time and a Crock Pot Week Meal Plan that used the Crock Pot every day.

This weeks Plant-Based Meal Plan fill focus on having dinner in 30 minutes or less. I’ll be using canned beans or beans that were previously cooked (I’ve got a few bags in my freezer). I’ll also “cheat” a little by cooking the Baked Potatoes in my Crock Pot.

Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

I don’t assign days to our dinners because I don’t always know what our schedule will be like. We have t ball on Monday’s and Wednesday’s but we also have a teenager and I never really know when we will be home. When he is home I make TWO dinners. He can eat a whole (4-5 person) dinner by himself. If you can relate please let me know.

All of these choices are fairly quick. I just use what is available and quick cooking.

Plant-Based Meal Plan

Pizza Pasta using seasonal veggies with steamed veggies on the side.

Gluten-Free Pancakes this recipe is only in Gabriel’s Fundraiser Cookbook. Get it now, it’s only available until the end of August. I may serve this with a Breakfast Stir Fry.

BBQ Chickpeas on top of Baked Potatoes with Steamed Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Veggie Soup using whatever is around. I’ve been making soups ever few days for lunch. We’ve had Taco Soup, Enchilada Soup, Potato Soup, Broccoli and Potato Soup and more.

Simplified Red Lentil Curry used exclusively in my Custom Meal Plans. I’ll be serving this over quinoa, rice or potatoes.

There you have it, a Plant-Based Meal Plan with dinner in 30 minutes or less. You may have to be strategic but it can work.


I’ve got a few recipes coming up this week. I’ll give you a few hints. They are round, sweet and the perfect dessert for you kids lunch box! The are also vegan, gluten-free and nut free.

 

3 Reasons I Don’t Pack a “Healthy” Lunch Box

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have noticed I don’t pack my kindergartener the healthiest lunches. It may even surprise you to find out how deliberate I am with what I pack.

Back to School Month

Since this blog is about “plant-based” living you may expect me to pack veggie wraps and super healthy lunch box fare. I hope I haven’t let you down, but I’m not concerned with my kid having a “Healthy” lunch box.

3 reasons I don't pack a Healthy lunch box

I have complete oversight regarding what my kids eat at home. At school, I really can’t know. I could pack a super healthy lunch box but that doesn’t mean it would be eaten. Instead I focus on the following ideas.

1. What Will Get Eaten

My son is 5 and eating five meals a week away from me. He is not quite used to that amount of freedom. The first few days of school I packed lots of choices. I wanted to get a good idea of “how much” he would eat during his lunch time. I instructed him not to throw anything away and to bring all of the leftover home.

Sandwiches would only have a few nibbles, if that much. Of course, sweet and salty foods were eaten right up. Fruit was hit and miss. His leftovers would normally be eaten after school.

2. Avoiding Ridicule

No one wants to be the kid with a weird lunch. I remember feeling lunch box shame when my lunch didn’t match the cool kids at the lunch table.

Somewhere between broccoli-flavored tofu nuggets and bacon-wrapped candy bars there is a happy medium of  foods that make parents and kids happy.

3. Quick and Easy

Have you been in a lunch room during elementary lunch? It’s a mad house, every man for himself. Even though there may be as many as 30 minutes scheduled for lunch by the time kids arrive at their table they may only have 15 or so minutes to eat. They best thing I can do for my kid is to pack food he can eat quickly and easily.

Elementary kids, especially kindergartener like mine don’t really understand how to budget their time. They may spend 10 minutes laughing and telling jokes then 5 minutes waiting for a lunch aid to help open their container. Everything I pack for my son is easy for him to open and can be eaten easily.


 

For more Back to School ideas visit my Back to School Pinterest Board. You can also check out Lunch Box Guide (it’s a printable) and my Lunch Box Essentials post.

Do you pack a lunch for your child? What do you normally pack?

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