What to do with canned foods?

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 8:51 am

The whole reason I make canned/preserved foods is to be able to eat them when they are out of season and thus expensive and shipped in over long distances. But once you’ve got them, what do you do with them?

Last year I made a couple of different pie fillings while the fruits were in season and cheap: blueberry pie and cherry pie.

For Pancake Day I decided to go in a slightly different direction and made a clafoutis with canned cherry pie filling. It didn’t last very long!


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the batter ingredients in your food processor and blend at top speed for about 1 minute to make a very wet batter (if you don’t have a food processor, beat gently to mix all the ingredients and pass batter through a fine sieve to make a very smooth, no-lumps batter).

Lightly butter your skillet and set over moderate heat on the stove. Pour in just enough of the batter to make a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet and heat until the batter is just set. Remove from the heat, gently spread your pie filling over the set batter and top with the rest of the batter. Put into the heated oven and bake for about an hour or until the batter is golden brown and delicious. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar, hot tea or coffee, and enjoy!

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Blueberry pie filling

Posted on July 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

Part 2 of my short series on blueberries – pie!

7 cups blueberries, washed and sorted
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup ClearJel
2tbsp lemon juice

12 drops blue food colouring
4 drops red food colouring
1tsp grated lemon zest

Prepare your jars and lids in the usual way.

Half fill a large stainless steel pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add blueberries for 1 minute to blanch, drain, then return them to the pot. Cover the pot to keep them warm.

Combine the sugar and ClearJel in a large stainless pot. Whisk in 2 cups / 500ml of water, add food colouring if using, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently while stirring until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in lemon zest if using, add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the blueberries and any juice until they are well incorporated into the mixture.

Ladle the pie filling into jars leaving 1 inch / 2.5cm head space. Remove any air bubbles, adjust head space if necessary by adding or removing filling. Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel that has been sprayed with white vinegar. Lid, band, and hot water bath process for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes turn off the heat, remove the lid of the boiling water bath canner and wait for 5 minutes before gently removing the jars to a cookie rack.

Cool on a cookie rack overnight, remove the bands, label the jars, put them in your pantry, and enjoy blueberry pie!

Yield: about 4 pint / 500ml jars.

A note on ClearJel: it’s worth using it instead of any other option. Yes, it’s more expensive than, say, corn starch, but ClearJel is specifically formulated to work with pie fillings – repeated heating does not cause the ClearJel to break down into liquidy mush.

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Posted on January 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

Cherry. Wikipedia will tell you the dry facts, but it won’t tell you how you get that burst of sweet, dark fruitiness when you bite into them, or how well they go in desserts, jams, or pies, or how you almost start to salivate at the mere word.

There is one downside. They are intensely seasonal, and you can only get them fresh, ripe, and cheap in a very narrow period in the summer. So I was delighted when our local grocery store had them on sale at $2.99 a pound!

What to do with your cherries?

Candied cherries (also known as glacé cherries) are used in cakes and puddings. They are only on the shelves in my grocery store for a ridiculously short time – about one month. So here’s how you make them yourself.

1 pound fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 fresh lemon
1 cup apple juice

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add the cherries and the lemon. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the syrup is red and slightly thick, about 20 minutes.
Cover and let stand 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.
Strain the cherries, reserving the syrup, and set them aside.
Discard the lemon and add the apple juice to the reserved syrup.
Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cherries to the syrup, reduce the heat and cook slowly until the syrup is thick, about 220°F (105°C) on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and cool. The cherries can be stored in a tightly covered container for at least six months in the refrigerator.

(source for candied cherries recipe)


Yield: 7 quarts
6 qts fresh or thawed sour cherries
7 cups Granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups Clear Jel®
9 1/3 cups Cold water
1/2 cup Bottled lemon juice
1 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp Almond extract (optional)
1/4 tsp Red food colouring (optional)

Quality: Select fresh, very ripe, and firm cherries. Unsweetened frozen cherries may be used. If sugar has been added, rinse it off while the fruit is still frozen.

Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water.

Combine sugar and Clear Jel® in a large saucepan and add water. If desired, add cinnamon, almond extract, and food coloring. Stir mixture and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained cherries and immediately fill hot jars with Cherry Pie mixture leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel.  Adjust lids and process quart or pint jars for 30 minutes in a hot water bath canner (time given for under 1000 feet, please check source PDF if you live higher than 1000ft).

(Source: National Centers for Food Preservation USDA E-Book chapter 2, canning fruit and fruit products)

Note on Clear Jel: it is specifically approved by the USDA for making pie fillings. Other starch sources are not approved for this purpose. If you can’t get Clear Jel from an online store, you can use other thickeners but you’ll need to freeze the filling rather than canning it. Sorry.

Once you have your own canned cherry pie filling, you can experiment with adding cocoa powder to make a cherry chocolate pie!

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