The dish:

Canning fall fruits and vegetables (and jams, salsas and nuts) is a fantastic way to save money and savor the bright, brilliant flavors and health benefits of the harvest during cold winter months. Canning uses boiling water, vacuum packing, acids and sealed containers to prevent decay and maintain nutrients that will otherwise slowly diminish.

You’ll need:

  • Regular or wide-mouth Mason-type, threaded home canning jars with self-sealing lids. By starting with new lids, you can reuse these jars many times. The jars typically come in half-pint, pint, 1.5 pint, quart and half-gallon sizes.
  • A boiling-water canner (for acidic foods like tomatoes and pickles) or a pressure canner, which should be used with low-acid foods to prevent botulism, or food poisoning.
  • Fresh, wholesome produce without mold or disease spots. Allow stone fruits, such as peaches, pears and plums, to ripen for 24 to 48 hours between harvest and canning. Can home-prepared meats and poultry immediately after preparation.
  • Ascorbic acid in powdered or tablet form, or as a commercial mix of ascorbic and citric acid. A solution of 3 grams of ascorbic acid to 1 gallon of water helps prevent discoloration of potatoes, cherries, apples, grapes, apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears and mushrooms by reducing oxidation.

Preparation tips:

  • Make sure that the jars in your canner are not touching each other or the sides of the canner.
  • Wipe the edges of jar mouths clean before applying lids. Food particles could interfere with sealing.
  • Use vinegar with 5 percent acidity to pickle foods.
  • Allow jars to cool for 12 to 24 hours after removing them from the canner.
  • Label and date your jars. Discard food more than 12 months old.

Healthy Apple Butter

Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes • Cook Time: 4 – 5 hours • Servings: 6

Healthy Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, more to taste

Directions

1. Place apples in a blender or food processor with apple juice and blend until applesauce consistency.

2. Transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Let apple mixture cool and stir in spices. Add more cinnamon or nutmeg to taste.

4. Store in the refrigerator after cooling to room temperature or can to enjoy at a later date.

Go to the National Center for Home Food Preparation, nchfp.uga.edu, for more information.