I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas!
Things were very hectic this year for the holidays and I have been very busy non-stop! Not to mention, we were having many relatives come to visit for Christmas through New Years day so I kept trying to think of ideas that we could do that may work for everyone and not be too costly. I knew I wanted to do something homemade so that effort and thought could go into the gifts instead of a ton of money! Around this same time my husband and I kept saying that we had been wanting to get into canning and preserving for something to do. Then it clicked! There is no better time than to start now and make some preservatives for gifts!
The nice thing about this is it does not have to be used for Christmas gifts! This would be a wonderful gift idea for many occasions such as birthdays or housewarming gifts! I’ve even used canning jars for other things instead of actually using them for canning. For example, I have used them for party favors! I threw a baby shower for a close friend and added chocolate chip cookie dry ingredients to a jar. The possibilities are endless!
For this years Christmas gifts my husband and I decided on giving homemade canned items as I mentioned so we picked out 3 completely different recipes so that we had some good variety. We decided on doing homemade salsa, apple butter and blueberry chia seed jam. We had so much fun making all these and were SO excited that we even ended up with a few extra jars to keep for ourselves.
First I must start out by saying, this is one of the best salsas I have ever had! It is delicious! If you like a salsa that is spicy but also very sweet, then this is the one for you! In fact, next time we make this (because there definitely will be a next time! It is deeelicious!) I would even make it a bit more spicy and add some more jalepenos. So if you are a big fan of very veeeery spicy, then I would suggest adding more of a kick with more jalepenos in this recipe.
Find the salsa recipe I used here. I got the recipe from Food.com and it is simple and you can’t go wrong with the amazing taste!
For the tomatoes I used about half fresh tomatoes and half canned crushed tomatoes. This was simply because I ran out of the fresh 😛 But hey, it worked out okay! I chopped all of my ingredients very fine in order to have a smoother salsa versus chunky but you could go either way. This recipe made 7 pints for me.
Homemade Apple Butter
Ooooh my goodness…this stuff is amazing! My husband could not stop “sampling” it to make sure it tasted okay 😉 Thankfully we had a couple of jars to keep for ourselves! The other best part about making the apple butter is that it was SO simple! You literally throw a few ingredients into your crock pot and let it go! The most time consuming part was just peeling and coring the apples but that of course didn’t take too long either.
Find the apple butter recipe I used here. I found this recipe at Money Saving Mom’s blog through Pinterest and it is fantastic! She even offers some adorable free printouts for apple butter labels! However, I decided to make my own.
After the apple butter was completely done we decided to throw it all in the blender and puree it up so that it was completely smooth. This totally depends on preference so you wouldn’t have to do this but I really loved the smoother texture. This recipe doesn’t mention anything about canning but we wanted to be able to preserve them so we just put them in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes.
Blueberry Chia Seed Jam
This is also a really good recipe! My only advice is definitely do not make it when blueberries are out of season and the only ones you can get are in the grocery store for about $4 for an itty bitty container! And it STILL did not make all that much for me. But hey, it’s okay, I just used some little adorable 4oz jars so that I could have more.
Find the blueberry chia seed jam recipe that I used here. I also found this one through Pinterest at Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.
The best thing about this jam is that it is healthy and doesn’t have any bad additives or extra sugar! Instead of using extra sugar or pectin that is often used in homemade jams, this one just adds honey and lemon juice along with the blueberries and chia seeds. I doubled this recipe since it doesn’t make very much. However, if you are just making it for yourself it would be the perfect amount.
As you can see, I also had some fun decorating the jars, making some labels and putting them in gift baskets! I just added a kitchen towel and a mini spatula and it makes a great gift!