Tag Archives: canning

Culinary Adventures: Spiced Apple Rings

Making homemade spiced apple rings–an awesome relish tray addition to your family’s holiday dinner

My Grandma always added store-bought spiced apple rings to her relish tray for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. My Mom never bought them, they were only something we ate on Christmas Eve at Grandma’s with her Christmas pot roast. Blood red, perfectly round, spicy rings that I never got to eat anywhere else.

When I told my Grandma that I was going to try and make spiced apple rings, she told me that she’d never considered making them from scratch, despite all the canning that she does. She was curious to see how they turned out. She said that she didn’t think anyone else liked them but her, and stopped buying them eventually. She was happy that somebody else enjoyed them at her holiday dinners.

Well Grandma–you’re getting homemade spiced apple rings for Christmas this year.

I used this recipe found at Food.com. It says it makes 8 pints, but I bought a pack of 12 wide mouth pint jars and it filled them all. Also–total time 1 hour my ass. More like three.

I knew going into it that mine were not going to be perfectly round, nor blood red. I’m sure a lot of artificial red #5 dye goes into those store bought spiced apple rings. I also didn’t have an apple corer, despite searching for one at the local Fred Meyer.

**If this is your first time canning, PLEASE read all the instructions in the Ball canning guide. There is a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing.



  • 12 lbs firm tart apples, no more than 2 1/2-inch diameter
  • 12 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups white vinegar, 5
  • 3 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies or 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

**Whitney’s note: Also get a squeezy bottle of lemon juice, you’ll need it to keep the apples from browning.


  1. Wash apples. Peel and slice one apple at a time. Immediately cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices, remove core area with a melon baller and immerse in ascorbic acid solution to keep the apples from discoloring.

If you have an apple corer, this will probably go a lot smoother for you than it did for me. I cut the cores out of the apple slices by holding a knife in them and turning the slice around as I cut. If you can find an apple corer, buy it. It will be worth it.

I used Granny Smith apples, this is definitely a recipe you want to use tart apples for.

how to make spiced apple rings 466

how to make spiced apple rings

Place all the apple rings in bowls of water with lemon juice to keep them from browning. They will start to brown really fast so get them right into the lemon water immediately after cutting.

how to make spiced apple rings

2. In a 6 quart saucepan, combine sugar, water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon candies, or cinnamon sticks and food coloring (if using).

The recipe told me to throw everything in the pot and boil. I threw in a couple cinnamon sticks along with the red hot candies for extra cinnamon flavor. I did add the optional tsp of red food coloring.

If I were to do this recipe again, I would put the cloves in a “teabag” made from cheesecloth. They were just floating loose and when I was pouring liquid into the jars it was hard to keep all the cloves out. I suppose they could add extra flavor during processing and while the spiced apple rings are jarred, but it was kind of annoying. People also aren’t so into picking hard woody things out of their apple rings at the dinner table.

3. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves then lower heat and simmer 3 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings

4. Drain apples and add to hot syrup, and cook for 5 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings
I wasn’t sure that cooking the apples for a whole five minutes prior to adding them to the jars was a good idea, because they kept cooking while I was canning. You don’t want mushy apple rings. Doing this recipe again, I would just steam them covered on low heat for 2 minutes, and then start the canning process.
how to make spiced apple rings

 5. Fill prepared jars with apple rings and hot flavored syrup, leaving a 1/2″ headspace.
how to make spiced apple rings
I found that the best tool for taking apple rings out of the pot and into the jars was a BBQ fork. I stacked the rings into the jars (doing my best to pick out the cloves as I went–again, cheesecloth recommended) and poured the syrup in on top. I pressed the rings down with a spoon to allow the syrup to fill all the spaces between the apples and remove the air bubbles. Do this until you have juice saturating the spiced apple rings, about 1/2 inch below the top of the jar and the air bubbles are removed.
how to make spiced apple rings
6. Check for air bubbles and add more liquid if needed to maintain the 1/2″ headspace.

7. Process pint or quart size jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Adjust time according to your altitude. NOTE: This can also be pressure canned. Pressure Canner – Hot pack pints or quarts and process for 8 minutes at the pressure specified according to your altitude and / or style of canner.

I live close to sea level, so I did 10 minutes processing time (starting the timer when the water started boiling) and 5 minutes cooling time (taking the lid off the canner and turning off the burner) as recommended in the Ball Canning guide for their recipes. They recommend 20 minutes water bath processing for higher altitudes. I’m not sure if my processing time was 100% correct, so I would recommend consulting Ball instead of trusting me.

how to make spiced apple rings

All of the jars sealed, but there were a couple that had such large rings in them that the syrup didn’t cover all of the apples. I put those in the fridge to eat soon, just in case something went wrong. I tasted the couple that didn’t fit into the jars, and they tasted great. I’m looking forward to having homemade spiced apple rings at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

how to make spiced apple rings


Culinary Adventures: Pickled Peppers

Our recipe experiment with pickled peppers–result: awesome.


We really wanted to make some yummy pickled peppers to put on sandwiches and use to add extra flavor in other dishes. I looked at several recipes and decided to use this one. I added a smashed clove of garlic to the pickling liquid, which I removed before canning.

3 cups vinegar

3 cups water

1.5 cups sugar

1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt

Smashed garlic clove, removed before canning

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stainless steel pot, stir and boil until sugar and salt are dissolved, then reduce heat.

We did a pretty big batch of peppers, so we doubled the above pickling liquid recipe and just kept re-making it when we ran out until all of our pickled peppers were canned.

We used tri-colored sweet peppers, anaheim peppers, and jalepenos. The tri-colored sweet peppers were mild, the anaheims are slightly spicy, and the jalepenos had a nice kick, transferring their spice to all the peppers in the canning process. Paddy put his ninja-like kitchen skills to good use, and chopped the three bags of sweet peppers like a boss. I got through one bag of jalepenos in the same amount of time.

how to make pickled peppers (14)

how to make pickled peppers

how to make pickled peppers
Tri-colored sweet peppers

Once chopped, we mixed them up in a bowl to create a colorful pepper soiree.

how to make pickled peppers

I always forget to wear gloves when chopping jalepenos. And always on days when I wear contacts. No matter how many times I scrubbed my fingers, they still had jalepeno oil infused into them at the end of the day, making the process of removing my contacts a fiery experience.

Jalepenos are literally a “mixed bag” when it comes to spiciness. Some can be mild, and some can be extremely hot. I had a raw jalepeno slice in a Bahn-Mi sandwich one time that brought me to tears. You never know what you’re going to get.

**Note: wear gloves when chopping hot peppers.

For canning instructions, I recommend reading the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If this is your first time canning, please read all the instructions and be sure you are following a tried-and-true canning recipe. You don’t want to make anyone sick. You can also read our previous post about pickling dill pickles for more details.


Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from product links on this site.

I packed the peppers into hot jars and filled with the hot pickling liquid. Aside from all the chopping, it was a pretty easy recipe.

how to make pickled peppers

how to make pickled peppers

how to make pickled peppers
Adding pickling liquid with a canning funnel
how to make pickled peppers
Securing the lid

Once peppers are in the canner, bring to a boil and then set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the canner lid and turn off the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes before taking the jars out. Let jars stand in a cool place overnight.

how to make pickled peppers
Removing pickled peppers from the canner

After jars are cool, be sure that all the lids have sealed. You can check by pressing down on the lids. If the lid “pops” back or moves at all when you press on the center, it didn’t seal properly. If this happens, you can still use the peppers but they must be refrigerated and eaten within a few weeks.

The peppers turned out delicious. Sweet, mildly spicy, and flavorful. They are great added to many dishes as a condiment or to sandwiches.

how to make pickled peppers

Culinary Adventures: Dill Pickles

Culinary Adventures: Canning homemade dill pickles

I began pickling and canning a few years ago, and everything I know I taught myself from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you’ve never canned before, I’d strongly encourage you to buy this book (it’s a great book) and read up on the how-to before you begin.

There is a lot of science involved in canning, and not following the directions can lead to things going horribly wrong (i.e. botulism). The method of processing and the ratios of ingredients in recipes are designed to ensure that all harmful bacteria are killed off and are unable to grow in the jar once it has been sealed. Always follow the directions and use a tried and true canning recipe.

Fortunately, pickles and jams have a high acidity and are a bit easier to process using the “water bath” canning method. I have yet to try pressure canning regular vegetables, but I’d like to someday.

I bought my inexpensive canning kit on Amazon, but there are a lot of grocery stores that sell them as well. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy and pickles make great gifts. My favorite part of canning in August and September: getting a large portion of my Christmas gifts knocked out early.

Canning kit
Canning kit (ladle was not included)

For this dill pickles recipe, you will need to prepare the pickles the night before. The recipe is for seven pint jars, but I always can an entire box of pickling cucumbers (go big or go home, right?). I order them from my local produce stand Top Banana in Seattle, but you can order them or find them at produce stands and farmers markets near you. The season varies a bit for harvest, but August/early September is usually the time that they are available. I’ve waited until the end of September before and been out of luck. If you are selecting a small amount of pickles yourself instead of ordering a whole box–the smaller the pickle the crisper it will be. Small is good.

The night before you can these dill pickles, you need to brine them in ice water and canning salt overnight for 12-18 hours. Because I have such a large batch, I bleached out a cooler and brined them in there.

Some things you’ll need in addition to the ingredients:

* A pressure canner or very large stainless steel pot with lid, and a rack for the bottom to keep the jars from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.

* Cheesecloth for creating a “tea bag” with the pickling spice

* Canning kit and ladle (canning funnel, magnetic lid thingy, jar tongs)

* Another large stainless steel pot for the pickling liquid

* A small pot for keeping the lids hot

* Quart sized or pint size canning jars (or a mixture of the two) with NEW lids

*Counter space and a clean kitchen to work in

*A counter or table with a towel over it for putting the hot jars to cool (don’t use a nice wood table, I ruined a wood TV tray once as the heat from the jars made big light spots on the table surface even through the towel). I like to set up card tables.

how to make dill pickles


The recipe is as follows:


Grandma’s Dill Pickles

 8 lbs pickling cucumbers (3 to 4 inches long each)

16 cups ice cubes or chipped ice

1 1/4 cups pickling or canning salt, divided

12 cups water, divided

2 tbsp pickling spice

6 cups white distilled vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

7 tsp mustard seeds

11 dill heads or dill weed

7 cloves of peeled garlic

Day 1:

1. In a large, clean crock, glass, or stainless steel container, layer cucumbers and ice

2. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of the pickling salt in 4 cups of the water. Pour over cucumbers and add cold water to cover cucumbers, if necessary. Place large clean inverted plate on top of the cucumbers and weigh down with two or three quart jars filled with water and capped. Refrigerate (or let stand in cool place) for at least 12 hours, but no longer than 18 hours.

As you can see, I didn’t follow the directions exactly due to the volume of cucumbers, but they all soaked overnight in the ice water well.

how to make dill pickles

Day 2:

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids

Step one is very important. Again, I strongly recommend you buy the Ball canning book as I’m giving you the quick and brief version and there is a lot to know.

I wash the jars, and put my first batch in the canner and turn the burner on to heat them up. It is important to pour the hot pickling liquid into hot jars.

how to make dill pickles: Heating jars in the canner
Heating jars in the canner

Next, I put all the lids (not the bands, just the lid part) in a small pot with water and heat the water up to just below simmering. I keep the bands close to the stove for easy access. Do not re-use jar lids. The bands and jars are re-useable but the lids must be new every time. Ball does sell lids in packages by themselves as well as complete jars at most grocery stores.

how to make dill pickles: Heating up the lids
Heating up the lids

Last, I prepare all of my ingredients: Mustard seed, measuring spoons, garlic cloves, and cut all the dill heads and put them in a bowl ready to go. I also cut the garlic gloves in half to let the garlic infuse better.

**Tip: Mustard seeds are insanely expensive in the regular grocery store and come in small containers. I ordered mine online through Amazon for much cheaper in bulk bags.

how to make dill pickles

2. Tie pickling spice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine remaining 8 cups of water, vinegar, remaining 3/4 cup pickling salt, sugar, and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently for 15 minutes, until spices have infused the liquid.

how to make dill pickles: Making the pickling liquid
Making the pickling liquid

4. Transfer cucumbers to a colander placed over a sink and drain. Rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly. Pack cucumbers into jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1.5 fresh dill heads, and 1 clove garlic to each hot jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into hot jar to cover cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space, if necessary, by adding more pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

For quart jars, I doubled the ingredients. Pickling cucumbers are better the smaller they are, but I always end up with quite a few big boys that won’t fit in pint jars. I like to do a mixture of pint and quart jars for dill pickles.

pouring pickling liquid into jars with canning funnel
pouring pickling liquid into jars with canning funnel


Always leave a 1/2 inch of head space in your jar. If it is too full, it might not seal correctly. Use the magnetic lid thingy (I have no idea what it’s real name is, sorry) to pick up a lid out of the small hot  pot and place it down on the jar. This keeps you from burning your fingers, and also keeps your fingers from contaminating the jar with more bacteria. Twist on the bands and use the jar tongs to place the jar in the canner.

Putting the lid on the jar using the magnetic jar thingy
Putting the lid on the jar using the magnetic jar thingy

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

Once all jars are in the canner, cover them with water to at least 1 inch of water over the tops, cover, and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling (watch it so you don’t accidentally over-process), set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the burner, remove the lid (watch out for steam and splashes! I always use pot holders just in case) and wait five more minutes. Then remove the jars with the canning tongs and set the hot jars on a flat surface with a towel over it to cool for 24 hours.

Removing processed pickles from canner
Removing processed pickles from canner

how to make dill pickles

The sealing process completes during cool-down, and it’s important not to disturb the jars or tip them sideways or anything like that. As the jar cools, it creates a suction that inverts the lid, tightening the seal. You might hear a popping sound as jars invert (I love that part).

Continue on until all dill pickles are processed. One of the biggest challenges for me is the hot jar thing. Keeping the jars hot but still getting them ready to go is a bit of a conundrum. I’ve worked around it by filling jars with the ingredients and putting them in a roasting pan, then pouring hot water in around them several minutes before they are ready to fill with liquid. If you’re an experienced canner and this is a totally bad idea -please let me know. So far no problems, so this is my “assembly-line” work-around.

how to make dill pickles

A friend of mine uses her dishwasher to keep jars hot, which is pretty genius. She keeps them in a hot steam in the dish washer and pulls them out as she is ready to process the next batch. I don’t have a dishwasher, so I’ve never done that.

So there you have it, dill pickles. I find that these make the best Christmas gifts. There is so much sugar and fat going around as gifts during the holidays, that everyone I’ve given these to is totally stoked to get something other than more cookies. After the first year I made these, I got lots of hints the next year that more would be appreciated. And doesn’t everybody like dill pickles?

how to make dill pickles
Dill pickles
how to make dill pickles
Dill pickles