Easy Canning Recipes to Perfect at Home

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How to fill your kitchen with Ball jars of homemade chutneys, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, and apple butter.

I've never had any interest in canning until I called preservation guru Diane Devereaux. And yet, a mere five minutes into our conversation, before we've even scratched the canning recipe surface, I'm floored that I haven't been using my Ball jars for canning all these years. There's a joke about dropping the Ball to be had here—I'm sure of it.

Diane Devereaux, who goes by the Canning Diva, is the author of three books on canning—her most recent Beginner’s Guide to Canning just came out on May 5. What strikes me most about her canning method is the farm-to-table approach she takes. Devereaux only works with produce from her garden or local farmers she's developed a relationship with. "Putting that amazing bounty in a jar allows you to preserve the ingredients' freshness," she says. "You know what’s going into every recipe.”

A graduate of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Devereaux has been canning since she was 13 and now has an active international following, thanks in large part to her mathematic ability to can just about anything, including the gourmand likes of Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. 

Much as we'd all like to harness the power of Julia Child in a can, Devereaux is starting us with a few of her more straightforward, though no less delicious, canning recipes. She's shared recipes from her latest book, including her Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde, Traditional Dill Pickle canning recipe, and Bloody Mary Mix. She's also shared two of her signature recipes: Blonde Curry Apple Chutney (from her first book, Canning Full Circle) and Basil Diced Tomato, otherwise known as the sauce dreams are made of.

Blonde Curry Apple Chutney

Devereaux says her golden chutney pairs well with chicken or pork, or can be used to "create flavorful side dishes like tangy steamed vegetables or decadent couscous."

One of the things Devereaux loves is that the canning process is all natural from start to finish, and that's especially evident with this recipe, which is one of the five that put her on the map internationally. "We grow it, we get it into a jar, and then we cook with it," she says. "This can be an appetizer, dessert, or main course."

The ingredients, from Canning Full Circle:

4 cups distilled white vinegar 

8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (8 cups) 

5½ cups golden raisins 

4 cups granulated sugar 

2 medium onions, chopped (1 cup) 

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (1 cup) 

3 tbsp mustard seeds 

2 tbsp ground ginger 

2 tsp ground allspice 

2 tsp yellow curry powder 

2 tsp coarse sea salt 

2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped 

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

The method, from Canning Full Circle:

  1. Pour the white vinegar into a large stainless steel stockpot. As you are prepping your apples, place them in the vinegar, giving them a quick stir so the vinegar coats the apples and prevents them from browning. 
  2. Add the golden raisins, sugar, onions, and red pepper to the stockpot with the apples. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, ginger, allspice, curry powder, salt, jalapeños, and garlic. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 
  3. Ladle the hot chutney into hot jars leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and add additional chutney if necessary to maintain the ½ inch of headspace. 
  4. Wipe the rim of each jar with a warm washcloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Place a lid and ring on each jar and hand tighten. 
  5. Place jars in the pressure canner, lock the pressure canner lid, and bring to a boil on high heat. Let the canner vent for 10 minutes. Close the vent and continue heating to achieve 6 PSI for a dial gauge and 5 PSI for a weighted gauge. Process pints and half-pints for 8 minutes. 

Traditional Dill Pickles or Relish


Courtesy Jeff Hage/Green Frog Photo

While Devereaux rightly makes the point that beginner's canning can involve so much more than just pickling, these pickles are absolutely classic, and as she says, they make a great relish, too.

The ingredients, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

7 pounds small pickling (Kirby) cucumbers

3 tbsp pickling spice

8 cups distilled white vinegar

8 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 cup pickling and canning salt

8 fresh grape or maple leaves

8 bay leaves

8 garlic cloves, peeled but whole

8 dill flowers or 7 teaspoons dill seeds

4 tbsp mustard seeds

The method, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

  1. The recipe is hot packed, so have clean jars resting in hot water. In a smaller pot, add lids and rings, 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and water to cover. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. 

  2. Wash the cucumbers well to remove any dirt and debris. If keeping them whole, simply slide off 1/16 inch from the blossom end of each cucumber (blossoms contain an enzyme that causes excessive softening of pickles). If sliding them, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds.

  3. Place the pickling spice in the center of a 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cloth to form a bag. Tie the top of the spice bag closed with butcher’s twine.

  4. In a large stockpot, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pickling salt, and the spice bags. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the spices into the brine. Remove the spice bag and discard.

  5. Place the hot jars on a cutting board. For pints: Add 1 grape leaf, 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, 1 dill flower head (or 1 teaspoon dill seeds), and ½ tablespoon mustard seeds to each jar. For quarts: Add 2 grape leaf, 2 bay leaf, 2 garlic clove, 2 dill flower head (or 2 teaspoon dill seeds), and 1 tablespoon mustard seeds to each jar. Raw pack the cucumbers into the jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace.

  6. Using a funnel, ladlie the hot brine over the cucumbers, maintaining the ½-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and add additional brine if necessary to maintain the ½-inch headspace.

  7. Wipe each jar rim with a warm washcloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Place a lid and ring on each jar and hand-tighten.

  8. Place the jars in the water bather, ensuring each jar is covered by at least 1 inch of water. Add 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar to the water and turn the heat to high. Bring the canner to a boil and process quarts for 20 minutes and pints for 15 minutes. Be sure not to start your timer until the water is at a full rolling boil. After processing, wait 5 minutes before removing the jars from the canner.

Bloody Mary Mix

Did you know canning went hand in hand with drinking? Had I realized the road to canning recipes was paved with bloody mary mix, it would've piqued my interest sooner. Devereaux says this canning recipe is quick, easy, and perfect with your favorite high-end vodka. "Make it and preserve it within an hour," she says. "It's wonderful to drink and to cook with."

The ingredients, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

40 medium canning tomatoes, cored, seeded, and quartered (20 cups)

2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped (2 cups)

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped

2 medium jalapeño peppers, diced

6 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1/4 packed light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup bottled lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp salt (optional)

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp prepared horseradish (optional)

The method, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

  1. This recipe is hot packed, so have clean jars waiting in hot water.

  2. In a large stockpot, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, onion, jalapeños, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring often to blend the flavors and reduce liquid down. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

  3. Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a food processor. After everything is pureed, set a fine-mesh sieve or food mill over a clean stockpot (to capture the liquid). Working in batches, press the mixture through the sieve or food mill to remove seeds and pulp. 

  4. Replace the stockpot with the captured liquid on the stovetop. Add the brown sugar, lemon juice, salt (if using), black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and horseradish (if using) and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to blend the flavors. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

  5. Place the hot jars on a cutting board. Using a funnel, ladle the hot juice into the jars leaving 1-inch headspace.

Roasted Tomatillo & Green Tomato Salsa


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Devereaux loves this recipe because it has "authentic, robust flavor, and not a lot of ingredients, so it’s easy."

This is a recipe that proves canning doesn't have to be old-school. While Devereaux loves nostalgic recipes, she wants to combat the notion that it's just an old-fashioned craft. Like many of her recipes, this tomatillo salsa gives canning a foodie edge.

The ingredients, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

32 tomatillos, husked and halved

16 green tomatoes, cored and halved (4 cups)

10 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large sweet onion, quartered

2 jalapeño peppers, halved

½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup bottled lime juice

2 tsp ground cumin (optional)

1 tsp salt

The method, from Beginner’s Guide to Canning:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line one or two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil.

  2. Arrange the tomatillos and tomatoes cut-side down on the foil. Scatter the garlic cloves evenly throughout the tomatillos and tomatoes and drizzle everything with olive oil.

  3. This recipe is hot packed, so have clean jars resting in hot water. In a smaller pot, add lids and rings, 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, and water to cover. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

  4. Transfer the baking sheet(s) to the oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Remove from the oven, careful not to spill the juices. Cool for 5 minutes.

  5. Working in batches, place the roasted vegetables and their juices in a food processor, and pulse until everything is finely chopped, then transfer to a stockpot. Add the onion and jalapeños to the food processor and finely chop. Add the mixture to the vegetables in the stockpot.

  6. Add the cilantro, lime juice, cumin (if using), and salt to the stockpot and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to avoid scorching. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid.

  7. Place the hot jars on a cutting board. Using a funnel, ladle the hot salsa into the jars, leaving a half-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and add additional salsa if necessary to maintain the half-inch headspace.

  8. Wipe the rim of each jar with a warm washcloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Place a lid and ring on each jar and hand-tighten.

  9. Place the jars in the water bather, ensuring each jar is covered by at least 1 inch of water. Add 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar to the water and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and process pints for 15 minutes. Be sure not to start your time until the water is at full rolling boil. After processing, wait 5 minutes before removing the jars from the canner.

Basil Diced Tomatoes


Courtesy Jeff Hage/Green Frog Photo

Devereaux uses this as a tomato sauce or even as a base for stews. "It replaces stew tomatoes or diced tomatoes," she says.

But she also recommends it just over angel hair as a light pasta in the summer. Specifically, she recommends this canning recipe for beginners who are interested in pressure canning.

The ingredients, featured in all three of her books (with step-by-step photos in Beginner’s Guide to Canning) and provided here from her website:

16 cups of skin-on cored, diced tomatoes

1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp of fresh garlic, minced

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped 

1 tbsp raw sugar

2 tbsp salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Lemon juice – to use during hot packing process

The method, from her website:

  1. In a large stainless steel stock pot, combine all ingredients, less the lemon juice, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. While stirring, allow to gently boil for 5 minutes to thoroughly blend each flavor.
  2. Because we are hot packing the basil tomatoes, be sure your jars have been resting in hot water in the sink. Just prior to hot packing, add lemon juice to each empty hot jar: 1 tbsp for pints and 2 tbsp for quarts.
  3. Add hot basil tomatoes using a slotted spoon, ensuring each jar has a generous 1-inch of head space.  Ladle in juice from the mixture being sure to maintain the 1” head space.
  4. Wipe each jar rim and screw band with a warm wash cloth prior to securing lids and rings.  Place sealed jars in your pressure canner.  Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.
  5. After processing time has been reached, turn off the heat.  Allow the pressure in the canner to reach zero on its own, which usually take about 30 minutes.  Remove canner lid and allow jars to set for 10 minutes inside canner.  Remove jars to a draft free location in your kitchen to cool down completely before storing.