My home canning history began at my mother’s side, just as she had learned, and as her Ukrainian mother before her.
My mother did things her own way, however, and in the world of preserving that usually meant reducing added sugar in recipes or eliminating it altogether.
We cooked over a wood stove and she kept a (now) vintage oval Le Creuset pot on the back of the stove, cooking fruit down for hours to concentrate the natural sugars.
The aroma from that flame-coloured pot would drive me wild: cinnamon, apples, plums and wild Saskatoon berries. Each ingredient preserved with as little intervention as possible into jams and butters, compotes and conserves.
Of course, I have also found my way of putting up the bounty of summer. I still reject the load of added sugar, but I wholeheartedly embrace technology, like preserving in a Crock-Pot.
How to Make Preserves and Condiments in a Crock-Pot
Let’s take fruit butter for example. Preserving in a Crock-Pot allows you to cook the water out of the fruit, concentrating the natural sweetness and preserving the fibres. This method yields a sweet, spreadable preserve with a deep, delicious flavour.
In addition, using the Crock-Pot for cooking down home preserves, as opposed to a heavy-bottomed pot on the back of the stove, means that you can step a little further away from the kitchen.
And believe me, when you’re a parent, just trying to survive a pandemic, you don’t want to have to worry about a bubbling pot on the stove.
But how does the water evaporate out of a Crock-Pot? A good question, to be sure.
I crack the lid open a touch, or you can use this hack from Kitchn and straddle two chopsticks over the crock with the lid rested on top of them. This allow the Crock-Pot to vent and release moisture while the fruit butter cooks, reduces, and thickens.
Recipes for Home Canning and Preserving in a Crock-Pot
Here are a handful of my favourite recipes for home canning and preserving in a Crock-Pot. My kids all give these recipes a hearty endorsement. We’re seldom without a jar of blueberry butter in the fridge for their frequent snack-attacks.
Note that the Crock-Pot is for cooking down the fruits and vegetables. To make them shelf stable, you will still need a traditional hot water canning pot. Please review my article on Canning 101 for instructions for hot water bath canning.
Tangy and sweet, apple butter is pure comfort food. We spread it on pancakes and layer it into sandwiches all winter long.
The Simple Bites method for apple butter was published 10 years ago (!) and is a basic tutorial that you can take and make your own.
Get the Recipe > Apple Butter