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!)
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
  •  Blackberries, washed and drained (see below for how many)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 5¼ cups water
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.
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.
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.

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Meal Plan Monday: Guest Post from Bekky at Entering Vegan Territory

During the month of July I welcome other bloggers to share their Meal Plans with you. Each Monday in July I plan to share a guest post. We have heard from Whitney J. Weiss at Bows, Blue & Boots and Jenn Seybestyen of Veggie Inspired Journeyl. 

plant-based meal plan

Today I’d like to introduce you to Bekky Yates of Entering Vegan Territory. Bekky lives in the UK. I think your mouth will be watering once you take a look at her meal plan.

 Meal Plan Your Way Into Vegan Territory

It may not be sexy, but when it comes to feeding a family there’s no denying that meal planning is the key to keeping your food bills in check and keeping your sanity in the kitchen – and meal planning is also a helpful tool in helping you stick to healthier food habits…

Omnivores interested in adopting a plant-based diet sometimes struggle to know where to start; here’s my answer: start with your meal plan. Most people, whether they usually meal plan or not, will have a repertoire of perhaps seven to ten meals that they eat in rotation, with a little seasonal variation. If you’re thinking of going plant-based but the idea of suddenly having to cook and prepare entirely new foods every day is just too daunting, then don’t do it – instead, start by adding just one plant-based meal to your meal plan. Choose a day when you have a bit more time and try out a vegan recipe. If it’s a success, make it again next week, and then again until you have it down pat. Then look for another new recipe and do the same. Even if you added just one vegan meal to your repertoire each month, you could be completely plant-based in around six months.

Of course, if you’re already plant-based, or if you’re just the kind of person who prefers to jump right in, you can leap feet first in to vegan territory by following my easy introductory meal-plan:


The Basics: Oats; fresh or frozen Fruit; some non-dairy Yoghurt & your preferred plant Milk (soya, almond, rice, oat or coconut – I recommend opting for one that is fortified with B12).

Nobody wants to have to think too hard about a week day breakfast: you can eat a delicious, nutritious breakfast every day simply by soaking some oats in a little plant milk and topping with non-dairy yoghurt and fresh fruit – try peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Vary the fruit each day to mix things up. Follow me on Instagram if you need some visual inspiration…

If you prefer your cereal with some crunch, why not try making some Crunchy Cranberry-Almond Granola.



Lunch – mashed avocado & freshly ground black pepper on toast with a handful of cherry tomatoes.

Dinner – DIY Summer Rolls  (no cooking required, just the veg to chop… you’ll be amazed how filling these are!)

Snack – Raspberry Traybake (this can double as dessert if required, and/or it can also be frozen for use in packed lunches at a later date)

Raspberry tray break


Lunch – Simple Green Bean, Tomato, Basil & Black Olive Salad (can be made in advance if a pack-up is required)

Dinner – Roast Med Veg & Chickpea Harissa Couscous (or Quinoa)

TIME-SAVING TIPS: while you’ve got the oven on, roast some extra courgettes and red peppers to use in tomorrow’s lunch … AND if you’re making this with quinoa, make some extra for baking with – it will keep it in the fridge for a couple of days until you’re ready to use it.

Snack – Raspberry Traybake from yesterday, if there’s any left – or a piece of fruit.


Butterbean, walnut roast veg salad

Lunch – Butterbean, Walnut & Roast Med Veg Salad (can be made in advance if a pack-up is required)

Dinner – Lemony pan-fried courgettes with new potatoes, peas and vegan-friendly sausages – gently pan fry the courgettes in garlic and olive oil. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the pan and cook until tender. Boil the new potatoes separately. When  cooked, drain and slice and add these to the courgette pan.

Snack Carrot-Quinoa Muffin (these can be frozen for use in packed lunches at a later date – but leave some out for tomorrow!)

Carrot Quinoa Muffin


Lunch –Green Bean & Potato Salad dressed in Mustard (using the rest of the potatoes you cooked last night)

Dinner – Simple Vegetable Sushi

Veggie Sushi

Snack – Carrot-Quinoa Muffin (if there’s some left from yesterday!)


Lunch – 100% Plant-based Ocean Paté on toast, with cucumber

Ocean pate

Dinner – Sweet & Sour Stir Fry with rice

Snack – – a glass of Beetroot-Berry Juice Boost (or make a little into Pink Milk for the kids)



Bekky Yates started her website Entering Vegan Territory in April 2014 as a way of sharing all the new stuff she found herself learning after she and her family decided to go from veggie to vegan earlier that year. Having previously spent time living in France, Austria & Russia, she now lives in Leicestershire, England with her two gorgeous girls, where she works as a freelance translator and editor. When she’s not in the kitchen or dreaming up recipes Bekky likes to work up an appetite by going out running with friends. She loves being vegan and can’t wait to explore further into vegan territory in the years to come. Like her Facebook page Entering Vegan Territory or follow her on Instagram or Twitter.



A Guest Post by Dustin Rudolph, the Plant-Based Pharmacist


It isn’t often that I run across another website or blog that shares my philosophy on health and eating. When I first discovered Pursue A Healthy You I read one page after another trying to find something I didn’t agree with but I never could. It was a welcomed relief.  It is now my pleasure to present this guest post from Dustin Rudolph, Pharm.D.

A Pharmacist’s Prescription For Optimal Health

It was the year 1987, I had just made the life-changing career decision of wanting to become a pharmacist. The world was a spectacular place to be in! The average cost of a new house was only $92,000, gas was a whopping 89 cents per gallon, The Simpsons had just made their TV debut, and U2’s newly released album The Joshua Tree was topping the charts. It was also a big year for the pharmaceutical industry. Prozac, one of the biggest blockbuster drugs ever, had just been released into the U.S. market. As for me personally, I found myself spending my days amongst a bunch of 4th graders, not because I was teaching them, but because I was one of them. You’re probably thinking “Fourth grader? Career decision making? Pharmacist? Right!” It may sound crazy for such a young man to make such a big life decision, but that was me. I’ve always been a highly motivated individual, persistent about planning life’s journey with every step I take. I’m still that way today, to a fault some would even say.

Anyway, back when I was ten years old I had wanted to become a pharmacist for three main reasons…

A) I wanted to help people.

B) It was a good paying job with a bright future.

C) I liked science and math.

Not a bad combination for the aspiring dreams of a small town, All-American boy with the prospect of success gleaming in his eyes. My parents were very supportive. I’m sure they were a bit surprised, however. Not every 10 year old comes up with such grand ideas at that stage in life. Most young boys are busy playing little league or off riding their dirt bike, complaining about doing chores because ‘work’ isn’t in their vocabulary yet. But I was focused on the future for some odd reason, and my focus only grew stronger as I made my way through middle and high school. I was determined to be a pharmacist one day and nothing was going to stop me.

In pharmacy school I learned everything you would ever want to know about medications. I learned about over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, and even natural and herbal medications. There was a pill for everything. I was going to be the person to pass them out. I couldn’t wait for the day of being able to “dispense miracles” with each prescription as it passed through my careful and calculated inspection.

After graduating, my energy and enthusiasm carried me through to my first job behind the counter of a retail pharmacy. I was fired up and ready to go. I wanted nothing more than to get out there and “hit the ground running” as they say. It was the beginning of the 21st century and there were sick people, lots of sick people, that needed my help. As the years passed (currently 11 and counting), I’ve had the pleasure of working in many different pharmacy settings—big box retailers, small and medium size hospitals, and even a busy grocery store setting. I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot, and even met some pretty interesting people over the years. I’d never thought you’d actually have to explain to a patient to take the wrapper off before inserting a suppository. Oh, what world we live in! Most of what I’ve learned as a pharmacist, however, is how I fit into this gigantic web of a healthcare system we have. I started out thinking I’d be the miracle healer, but have since realized this isn’t the case in most circumstances, unfortunately.

So, how did I come to this conclusion and what changed my mind since getting out of pharmacy school? It goes a little like this…

A little over four years ago my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I learned what it really meant to bring others back to an optimal state of health. Not just temporary health, but long term health, where individuals thrive as the years and decades go by. This new world was opened to me when I became aware of the healing powers of a whole foods, plant-based diet. I had read The China Study by the highly respected Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University. As it turned out, food is the best medicine you can give a human being when facing a chronic illness. I was shocked to learn of this approach provided by Dr. Campbell in his book. No one had ever mentioned this during pharmacy school. Yet, I believe now that it should be the first thing taught to all aspiring healthcare practitioners and the primary point emphasized in the treatment of chronic diseases. Food is why we are in this healthcare crisis, and food is also the way out of it. When I finally grasped this concept, my life (and my professional career) forever changed. The idea of food as medicine now serves as the basis of my message to others in their quest for optimal health.

“Fixing” the American healthcare crisis starts with addressing the root cause of chronic diseases. I can tell you firsthand from seeing thousands of patients over many years that more pills do not equal more health. Don’t get me wrong, I have helped many patients get back on track by offering them a pill, but this approach typically only provides temporary relief and is not a long term solution. The reason is because medications target the symptoms of disease and not the cause in most cases. The true solution to our healthcare woes are found in a healthy diet, regular exercise, and positive lifestyle choices which aim to target the root cause of these chronic illnesses. This is the message I hope will be carried forward as we enter into the coming years with our current healthcare crisis.

I feel very blessed to have had, and to continue to have, the opportunity to serve others in their time of need when it comes to their health. I’ve accomplished exactly what I set out to do in 4th grade… A) I’ve helped people, B) I’ve made a lot of money, and C) I’ve used science and math to accomplish both. What I didn’t realize when I was only ten years old was that…

A)  Helping others is one of the most rewarding and joyful experiences in life. The bigger the positive impact you have on others the more joy it will bring to you.

B)  The accumulation of money means so little in the grand scheme of things. Life is about giving unto others, spreading love and happiness in all that we aim to do.

C)  Science and math, when used in it’s simplest forms (i.e. plant-based nutrition), can transform the health and lives of others like nothing else, especially where medicine falls short of this.

Adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. It will bring about vibrant health, lessen the carbon footprint on the world we live in, and increase the welfare of all living creatures living on this planet. It is truly a win-win-win situation. With that being said, I’m going to ask of you something that no pharmacist has ever asked of you before – please put me out of business by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet. You will eliminate and/or reduce the need for medications and live a disease free life in the process. Nothing would give this pharmacist more pleasure than to hear that story from you, if or when you decide to make it happen.

Plant Based PharmacistDustin Rudolph, Pharm.D. (aka The Plant-Based Pharmacist) currently practices as a clinical hospital pharmacist. He spends much of his spare time educating others on the benefits of adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle in order to end the chronic disease epidemic. For more information check out his website at or his blog at