Canning Frenzy

Canned beats and dilly beans.
Equipped with a borrowed pressure canner, a canning book from the 70's, the Internet, and and a garden overflowing with fresh, organic produce, the crew at Better Farm took off on a canning project that will provide the people here (and some of our very favorite neighbors and CSA members) with delicious, canned meals for months to come.

Here are a few of the recipes we used. Send us yours at!

Elderberry Jam 
From Recipe Wise-UK Edition
Elderberry Jam is a lovely tasting jam with a beautiful color—but always be sure to use ripe berries to prevent the jam from becoming too tart. We picked wild elderberries along the roadside and spent a week utilizing them in Belgian waffles, scones, and pies. Toward the end of the week when they were perfectly ripened, we froze what we had left after siphoning off some for this jam recipe. To ensure a good set you can use a jam sugar with added pectin, but the lemon juice should help set the jam
  • Ratio of 1:1 elderberries and sugar
  • 1/2 lemon for every 2 cups of elderberries (juice and zest)
  • 1 tsp. butter (or vegan equivalent) for every 2 cups of elderberries

Rinse each elderberry cluster under running water, then drain thoroughly. Work on one small cluster at a time, gently pulling your fingers through and across the clusters to dislodge the berries from the tough stems – only use berries that are completely blue or blue-black, do not use any green berries, or any partially green berries, as they are not ripe and they will spoil the jam. Once you have de-stalked the berries rinse under running water once again. Simmer the elderberries in a dry preserving-pan, slightly bruising them, and stirring them about, with a wooden spoon. When the juice runs put in one-third of the sugar, and let the mixture simmer slowly up to the boiling-point. Break the berries up with the wooden spoon or a masher. When the berries are thoroughly soft and pulpy, take them off the heat and press the sugary pulp through a fine-meshed sieve – no seeds must go through – catching all the juice and pulp in a bowl below. Disclaimer: We let some of the seeds survive for an authentic jam experience! Put the pulp and juice, remaining sugar, lemon juice, butter, and the grated lemon-rind, back into the cleaned preserving pan. Let this simmer for half an hour, stirring and skimming frequently. After 30 minutes, boil for 10 minutes to the setting point. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any scum and impurities from the surface using a slotted spoon. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the Elderberry Jam into warmed sterilized jars and seal. Leave the jars to cool completely, then label and store in a cool, dark place.

Pickled Beets
  • 1 pound small beets (about 7 beets) 
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
Rinse out your canner, put the rack in the bottom, and fill it  with hot tap water. Put it on the stove over low heat just to get it heating up for later on. Meanwhile, leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cool slightly. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Thinly slice beets; place in a large bowl. Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Pour vinegar mixture over beets; then pour into glass Mason jars. Allow for 1/2 inch of headspace in the top of the jar. Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just "snug").Put the jars in the canner and the lid on the canner. Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner.  Make sure the tops of the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Process for thirty minutes. You can use either a plain water bath canner OR a pressure canner, since the vinegar adds so much acidity (if you can vegetables other than tomatoes without adding vinegar, you must use a pressure canner).

Dilly Beans
From Simply Canning

Note: As with the pickled beets, using vinegar in the recipe negates the need to use a pressure canner. If you are making these recipes without the vinegar, the food is too acidic to not use a pressure canner. Always keep this in mind in order to ensure food safety!

  • Green Beans - enough to make 4 pints or about 2 pounds
  • 4 sprigs of fresh dill weed or 4 heads of dill.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) 
Wash beans - snap off ends and snap (break or cut) to jar length. Add sprig of dill weed (or head of dill) (or 1 tsp dill seeds) and 1 garlic clove to each jar. if you like spicy try adding 1/8 tsp cayenne to each jar. Pack each jar with beans length ways. You can also cut your beans short and pack them that way. I just think it looks nice to have them long and lengthways. An easy way to do this is to tip the jar in your hand and fill. This way the beans stack nicely. Combine -vinegar, water and salt to make the pickling solution or brine.  Bring this to a boil. The best way to do this is in a stainless steel tea pot. It makes it so easy to just pour the brine into each jar without having to use  a ladle. Turn the heat off your brine and when bubbling stops, cover beans with pickling solution, leaving 1/4 inch head space. emove air bubbles with a plastic knife or other small tool. Just push the tool gently between the dilly beans moving things around just enough to let the air bubbles rise. There is a tool you can buy specifically for this purpose, but an orange peeler is what I always turn to. It just fits perfectly and is usually hand. Wipe rims clean, you don't want any pickling solution or bean bits on the rim of the jar.  It may interfere with the sealing process.  Then... process for 10 minutes per quart.