Master Food Preservation Blog

Food Preservation Blog

July 2020 - July Pie Filling!

Happy Summer!

I hope you’re into full swing preserving the wonderful fruits and vegetables available surrounding us now. Last night I had the most delicious local peach, which of course means I’ll be putting peaches up soon! I love the process of thinking through which method I’ll use .. freeze? canned with sugar? Ccnned without sweetener? jam?

There are many preservation methods to capture the very essence of what makes a freshly harvested fruit or vegetable so delicious! Thus, I try to use a variety of canning styles, not just make every fruit into a jam, for example. So that’s one of the reasons I especially love canning pie filling. Well.. that and with eyes to the future… picture January when it’s cold and snowing and you take your jar of pie filling off the shelf, pour it into a store-bought pie shell and bake it into a fresh summer pie!

Here’s a Peach Pie Filling recipe that adds the thickener at the time of canning. If you’d like Pie Filling recipes like this for other fruits or if you’d like Pie Filling recipes that do not use thickener at time of canning please email us at MONROEMFP@CORNELL.EDU

CANNING PIE FILLINGS using Clear Jel at time of canning.

From “So Easy to Preserve” published by the Cooperative Extension University of Georgia

This recipe use Clear Jel. This starch produces the correct thickening, even after the fillings are canned and baked. Clear Jel must be used, there is no substitution. (Do not use corn starch, flour or Instant Clear Jel). Clear Jel typically isn’t found in traditional grocery stores. It can be found online or often at stores that sell ingredients in bulk.

**TIP** Clear Jel does not dissolve in a heated liquid. Premix the Jel and cold liquid to dissolve the Jel, then proceed with recipe.



Ingredients 1 Quart Jar 7 Quart Jars
Fresh sliced peaches 3 ½ cups 6 quarts
Sugar 1 cup 7 cups
Clear Jel (no substitute) ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon 2 cups + 2 tablespoons
Cold water ¾ cup 5 ¼ cups
Cinnamon (optional) 1/8 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Almond extract (optional) 1/8 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Bottled lemon juice ¼ cup 1 ¾ cups

HOT PACK – Select ripe, but firm peaches. To loosen skins, submerge peaches in boiling water for approximately 30 to 60 seconds. Then place in cold water for 20 seconds. Slip off skins. Cut peaches into ½” wide slices. To blanch, place up to 4 cups of fruit at a time in one gallon boiling water. Boil each batch for one minute after the water returns in a boil. Remove fruit from the blanch water, but keep the hot fruit in a covered bowl or pot while the Clear Jel mixture is prepared. Combine sugar, Clear Jel and cinnamon in a large saucepot. Add cold water and almond extract. Stir to dissolve the Clear Jel then cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil sauce 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Fold drained peach slices into the thickening mixture and continue to heat mixture for 3 minutes. Fill jars without delay leaving 1” headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process immediately in a Boiling Water Bath. Pints or Quarts ….................................. 30 minutes.


June 2020 - When There's an Abundance & When There's an Absence

I hope you're enjoying the first harvests of our growing season and home preserving often! We've had such beautiful weather lately, it's just a pleasure going to the farm stands and public markets to see what local produce is becoming available.

Last week I spent a very long day making 9 batches of strawberry jam to join the 1 batch of rhubarb agave spread already on my larder shelves. And recently I saw that the first of the local vegetable, peas have finally arrived, but I haven't canned any yet. I'm not sure I will, because to be honest, this year I'm really looking forward to our local zucchini!

It seems zucchini gets a bad reputation because it's always available in abundance and few people ever choose it as their favorite vegetable. So I've decided in keeping with this crazy year, why not welcome zucchini with open arms? I love this Zucchini Relish recipe from Ball. It's delicious and can be used on your favorite hots and hamburgers just like a typical store bought relish. Imagine it alongside those pickles we'll be making next month!


Zucchini Relish 

yields about 4 half-pints

  • 2 cups chopped zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet green pepper (about 1 small)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper (about 1 small)
  • 2 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  1. Combine zucchini, onion, green and red peppers; sprinkle with salt; cover with cold water. Let stand 2 hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly. 
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. 
  3. Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes. 
  4. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Speaking of this crazy year, have you also had trouble finding pectin in local grocery stores? My go-to pectin is Sure-Jell Low Sugar and I was not able to find any for all those batches of strawberry jam. I found just 2 jars of Ball Low Sugar and thus switched some batches to Strawberry Agave Jam, because that recipe calls for Ball pectin (and you'll recall we can't switch pectin brands within a recipe).

The good news with the absence of pectin? It must mean a lot of you are canning this season and that is great!

The other good news? We can still make jam without pectin! Here's a recipe from the University of Georgia's Cooperative Extension.

No Pectin Berry Jams 

(for using blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, dewberry, gooseberry, loganberry, raspberry)

yields 7 or 8 half-pint jars

  • 9 cups crushed berries
  • 6 cups sugar
  1. Sterilize canning jars. 
  2. Combine berries and sugar. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. 
  3. Cook rapidly to, or almost to, jellying point, depending upon whether a firm or a soft jam is desired. 
  4. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. Pour hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in boiling-water bath.

I'd love to hear what you're preserving this summer, please send an email and let me know! 

Michele Conners, CCE Monroe Master Food Preserver,


May 2020

Michele's Larder...
Blue Ribbon Winning Strawberry Jam Recipe

Our local farm stands and farmers markets are open and that can only mean one thing -- fresh, homegrown strawberry harvest is almost here! Here's my go-to strawberry jam recipe that has won blue ribbons in county fairs and scored a 96/100 Honorable Mention one year at the New York State Fair. It pops with flavor, holds beautiful color and smells like a true summer strawberry.

It's the "For Less or No Sugar Needed" recipe found in the pink Sure Jell Pectin box.

Yup. It's not my grandmother's recipe that I tried to recall. It's not created by a home blogger who tried to be creative. It is not the hippest looking recipe, but it is a sanctioned recipe tested and retested to ensure a safe and reliable home preserved jam or jelly.


My Blue Ribbon winning Jam recipes follow the Cooked Jam Directions in this PINK Sure Jell Pectin box.

  • They're written to be the same recipe and directions for many fruit flavors
  • Be sure to read well through the (7) steps.
  • Take note of ingredients and quantities needed for the fruit you're using.
  • The kitchen supplies you'll need (measuring cups, saucepan, jars, lids and rings, etc..) are also listed for you.

The recipe sheet in this Less or No Sugar pink Sure Jell Pectin box also gives recipes for Cooked Jelly, Freezer Jam, Freezer Jelly and Cooked Jam directions using Splenda.

Sure Jell also has a yellow box of Pectin that provides directions for full sugar recipes. This also produces a great jam or jelly.

So why am I not simply providing the recipe here for you? Only for the fact that to ensure reliable finished jars of jam or jelly, you must use the pectin called for in the recipe. If you have pectin on your shelf (still within Use By Date) or if you need to purchase pectin, use the directions provided with that pectin.

Any of these are safe, reliable, tested pectin, recipes and directions:

  • Sure Jell premium Fruit Pectin(s)
  • Certo Liquid Fruit Pectin
  • Ball Real Fruit Pectin
  • Pamona's Universal Pectin


  • Tip #1 - don't follow one recipe and use pectin from another, don't mix together different pectins, always check the Use Before Date on whichever pectin product you buy.
  • Tip #2 - I tape the recipe to the inside of one of my kitchen cupboard doors. It makes it easy to quickly see the quantity of ingredients I'll need to buy.
  • Tip #3 - all pectin requires some type of sweetener, even in the smallest quantities. It's part of the food science behind getting jam/jelly to set.

If you're new to making jam or jelly, this wonderful labor of love, don't be nervous. Follow the directions and ingredient quantities provided with your pectin choice. You've got this!

We also have support for you -
Email me questions or let me know how you did at

Experienced canner and want to substitute another sweetener for white sugar? Let me know, I'll email you a chart from Ball.

I look forward to the canning season with you!

Last updated July 24, 2020