Jennifer Latham

Processing pickles and jams so that they will keep at room temperature can seem daunting if you’ve never tried it. But let’s face it: refrigerator preserves are convenient and delicious, but they’re not great for those of us who are perpetually short on fridge space. And then there’s the problem of abundance—refrigerator storage is simply not enough for those of us who have an overactive plum tree to contend with, or those of us who simply cannot pass up a good deal on a box of peak-season peaches or tomatoes. Luckily, processing canned jams and pickles at home is relatively easy once you get the hang of it and perfectly safe if you stick to trusted recipes and take a few simple precautions. Here’s a medley of our favorite sweet and savory canning recipes. Get started with these, and you’ll have a well-stocked pantry of homemade preserves in no time.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

For most of us, garlickly dill pickles are a platonic form from which myriad pickles emanate, both excellent and mediocre. The key to success: Start with farm-fresh Kirby cucumbers and leave them whole for the crispiest texture. Process them with a 50/50 pickle brine, plenty of garlic, and healthy pinches of dill seed, peppercorns, and chile flakes.

Canned Whole Tomatoes

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Has your garden produced a glut of tomatoes? Suffering from sticker-shock after spying the price of San Marzanos at the store? Here are step-by-step instructions for canning tomatoes in a stockpot or pressure canner. The benefits are easy to see: cost savings, flavor and ingredient control, and, of course, the pleasure of eating locally grown tomatoes long after the season has ended.

Rustic Apricot Jam

Serious Eats / Jennifer Latham

This recipe yields a very chunky, rustic jam that relies entirely on the fruit’s natural pectin—in concert with sugar, lemon juice, and heat—to set perfectly. 

Pickled Seckel Pears

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

Pickled fruits are on the unusual end of the preserving spectrum, but we can’t get enough of these sweet-savory pears. Diminutive Seckel pears are available in markets from early autumn to mid-winter, which makes this pickle a particularly good gift for the holiday season. Pickled cranberries are another good winter option—and a wonderful Thanksgiving table condiment. If you’re looking for a summer-season fruit pickle, see our recipe for pickled nectarines.

Spicy Dilly Beans

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

A bit of heat from red chile flakes and plenty of garlic flavor come through with these crunchy, dill-scented green beans. Because beans are sturdy little suckers, they retain their crispness through the boiling water bath process. Even months after canning, dilly beans will be crunchy and intensely flavorful. For another crisp pickle that’s great to make during fall and winter, try our recipe for dilly carrots.

Summer Blueberry Jam

Serious Eats / Jennifer Latham

This delicious blueberry jam made from peak-season blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice couldn’t be more simple to make. The key is to add some under-ripe berries as well, which provide more pectin to set the jam, as well as extra acidity and tannins for a more complex flavor.

Pickled Brussels Sprout Halves

Serious Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Most preserve recipes are born out of the need to preserve an abundance of summer produce for leaner winter months. These zingy Brussels sprouts are a good canning project for colder months, whether you overestimated your brassica needs for Thanksgiving or have a desire to try an unusual and very tasty pickle. For another recipe that’s perfect for cold-weather preserving, try pickling oyster mushrooms.

Concord Grape Jam

Serious Eats / Lucy Baker

Homemade concord grape jam bears only the slightest resemblance to the sticky-sweet supermarket kind. This jam has a deep, concentrated grape flavor that’s equally tart and sweet—perfect for filling a PB&J and an excellent choice for fall harvest-inspired gifting. For a recipe that sacrifices some of this jam’s superlative flavor for a simpler, one-step cooking process, check out easy grape jam.

Bread and Butter Pickle

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

These are an American classic for good reason: Sweet, sour, and tangy bread and butter chips are the perfect crunchy accompaniment to burgers, barbecue, and practically any sandwich you can dream up.

Homemade Plum Jam

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

This recipe comes to us from Kenji, who was inspired to write about his efforts to keep up with an especially prolific plum tree in his yard. Macerating quartered plums overnight reduces simmering time, which helps preserve their flavor. Running only half of the jam through a food mill gives the finished jam a spreadable texture with nice, juicy chunks of plum.

Pickled Spring Onions

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

Fresh spring onions make for good eating. They’re great sliced in half and grilled or caramelized until silky and tossed with pasta. They also happen to make an excellent pickle. A few forkfuls of these onions can dress up just about anything, from cheeseburgers to crostini and salads.

Bright and Fruity Strawberry Jam, Your Way

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Food preservation expert Christina Ward created this strawberry jam recipe to be as versatile and riff-able as possible. Her suggested tweaks include some curve balls. Swapping out the traditional lemon juice with another source of acid (sherry vinegar, anyone?) or spiking the jam with a healthy glug of Prosecco allows you to create a unique preserve that will put the half-forgotten jar of Smucker’s seedless in the back of your fridge to shame. For a strawberry preserve that includes a classic, tart companion, try making strawberry rhubarb jam.

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

This recipe is our go-to method for putting up an ephemeral spring treat. As Marisa McClellan notes, fiddleheads “taste like a cross between asparagus and a green bean,” so it’s no wonder they make a fantastic pickle. For a springtime pickling project that yields similar results without the need for foraging (in the woods or at the farmers market), there’s always pickled asparagus.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Serious Eats / Lucy Baker

Somewhere between a conventional lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon is plump, juicy, and surprisingly sweet. This simple Meyer lemon marmalade showcases the fruit’s bold, bright flavor, and it’s the ideal topping for blueberry muffins or cornbread. If you have designs on other citrus fruits, check out our recipe for fresh grapefruit marmalade. For a preserve that’s a bit further off the beaten path, this tequila sunrise number takes on a deep jewel tone from the addition of pomegranate juice.

Bourbon Peach Jam

Serious Eats / Lucy Baker

This simple, flavorful peach jam pairs the fruit with a hint of bourbon, cinnamon, and vanilla. The minimal simmering time and plentiful lemon juice keep the flavor fresh and balanced.

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