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Canning for Beginners

Canning fruit is surprisingly easy and can be done using utensils that you probably already have in your kitchen.

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I’m the lucky owner of two plum trees, and due to an unusual amount of rain this summer in Colorado, they are currently overflowing with sweet purple fruit. After picking buckets of them, eating them raw, adding them to smoothies and delivering sacks of plums to my neighbors, I still had more pounds of plums than I knew what to do with.

I decided it was time to try canning.

My grandmother was a prolific canner; she religiously canned jams, jellies and red and green tomatoes every season. My favorite were her strawberry preserves, which consisted of sweet, whole strawberries in syrup. When setting a table for any holiday or family celebration, she would carefully remove the preserves from one of the countless Ball jars in the pantry and place them in a delicate crystal dish with a tiny sterling silver jelly spoon.

In memory of grandma, I decided to make a “clean” plum chutney to give as Christmas gifts to family this year. Find the easy recipe here.

If you don’t plan on saving your jelly, chutney, etc., you can simply store the finished product in the fridge for up to a month, without canning.

Most of the tools I needed to cook and can this chutney, I already had in the kitchen:

  • Sauce pot for cooking chutney
  • Deep stock pot with a removable colander for sterilizing jars and canning
  • Kitchen tongs for placing jars in and removing from boiling water
  • Ladle for filling jars
  • Ball 4 0z Quilted Crystal Jelly Canning Jars, set of 12 (which I picked up at the local hardware store).

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide to Canning Tomatoes


1. Follow recipe for chutney. While it is cooking, fill stock pot with water and bring to a boil.

2. When water has reached a rapid boil, place jars (without lids) in colander. Lower into boiling water. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize. Make sure that water is covering the jars.

Sterilizing jars

3. After ten minutes, either remove the colander with the jars or remove each jar with kitchen tongs and place on kitchen towel.

4. While jars and chutney are still warm, fill each jar with chutney. Place lid on jar and tighten. Using kitchen tongs, lower each jar into the boiling water on top of the colander. You don’t want to place glass jars directly on the bottom of the pot or they could break.

5. Boil for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove each jar and place on a kitchen towel. After a few minutes, you will start to hear popping sounds as the air is vacuumed out of the jar.

6. Let chutney sit for 12 hours undisturbed. To test seal, press center of lid; it should not flex up and down. If a jar did not seal, keep it in your fridge and eat it within a month. All other jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.


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