Holiday cooking and gifting time!!!

Gift basket Fancy


Gift basket Sweet

Sweet Gifts

Gift basket Simple

Simple gift

Gift basket Tasty

Gift Basket

Almost every family has a tradition of cooking certain things at this time of year. Most all are celebrating church holidays. Almost all are exchanging gifts with someone. Well I am going to change things up in your eating and gift giving ideas. Don’t stop making cookies, or fudge or whatever is your special item. But here are a few things that really don’t take long and are the kind of gift that everybody will look forward to. I know that home canned food gifts take longer than say a set of ear rings in a small box with a bow, but the food just might be a favorite. When you give someone food verses a store bought item, the food says that this is something for your family to enjoy. It is different!

Supplies for cooking

Supplies for cooking

Supplies 2

Supplies for cooking

Now you have to decide what to make. Apple Butter is always a hit, maybe pepper relish or jelly with a recipe to turn your sugar cookies into a jelly cookie. Maybe your have something you have made earlier in the year. Whatever way you go, get busy and get everything you need in one trip to the store. Make a list:

just the right tools for canning

Just the right tools for canning

Ball jars

Canning jars

Canning jars, sugar, pectin, fruit or juice to make jelly with. Or if you are doing a relish, all the items you need for the relish. Butters need fruit, sugar and spices as well as a big crock pot. You might pick up a few other little items that will make your work easier.

Canning pot with rack included.

Canning pot with rack included.


A real canning pot and rack and a jar grabber and blades for jar bubble removal if your are doing relish or pickles. These items are usually found in the same spot you found the jars. If not you will find everything you can think of in a old fashioned hardware store, not one of those mega stores that takes 30 minutes to find someone to ask where something is.


Supplies laid in now the fun starts, cooking time.

Colored jars with straws still in

Colored jars with straws still in

Apple Juice

Apple Juice from apples not concentrate

The easiest thing to make is jelly because butters and relishes or pickles take much prep time. So lets start with something simple like Apple Jelly: I made the name different colors because with a little pack of food coloring we will make jellies all different colors. So pick up a pack that says Natural Food Dye or Coloring. I say natural because you don’t want anything artificial in the jars. In a large cooking pan add 3 1/2 cups apple juice (bottled will work, but make sure it is real juice not concentrate and water). 5 cups cane sugar (cane always works best in place of sugar that does not say cane). It says Cane Sugar on the package. 1 package of pectin (if you have a Kroger’s the store brand is the best! Check your store for food pectin vs chemical pectin. Last ingredient is 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Combine Juice, and lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a boil. Add sugar and bring back to a boil for  1 minute. Ladle the liquid into cleaned canning jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the top.

Also used for egg coloring at another time of the year

Also used for egg coloring at another time of the year

Now open your food dye and place one or two drops into a couple of jars, open another color and do the same. Combine colors to get other colors. Add 1 drop red to 1 drop yellow to get orange. 1 drop red and 1 drop blue to get purple. After adding the drops take a straw and mix each jar. Rinse the straw between colors. Now you have a rainbow of apple jelly.

Take a damp paper towel and carefully clean the rims. Now place a sterilized dome and ring on the top. Finger tighten the rings (that means not too tight or not too loose). Place jars on rack and put rack into a pot of boiling water that covers the top of the jars by at least two inches (also important). Boil 10 minutes. Remove the rack and place the jars on cooling racks or dish towels. Let set for at least 3 or 4 hours. During that time you will hear a popping sound. That is the dome sinking and sealing. When completely cool check the jars to make sure all have popped. If you find some that did not, they have to be re processed. Remove the ring and dome. Throw the dome in the garbage, the ring can be used again. Re clean the rim and place the new sterilized dome on top and tighten the ring. Boil again for 10 minutes and cool. The last step in important. make a label for your jars. You can use the labels that come with the jars or make some on your computer and printer. It’s up to you. Be sure to put on the jars what the ingredients are, some people have food allergies!! Add a bow or put into a basket with other things and you have a gift that will make someone very happy.

Adding jelly

Adding jelly

Jelly Cookies: Now to make those sugar cookies or peanut butter cookies with jelly on the top. Make your cookies your usual way, from scratch or from the frozen food section, either ways works. Place on cookie sheet and cook in oven the right temperature. When the cookies are about 2 or 3 minutes from being ready, open the oven and pull out the sheet with the cookies. Take a damp spoon and make a pocket on the cookie top. Next take a small amount of jelly and fill the pocket. Place back in oven and finish cooking. When they are finished you have Jelly Sugar Cookies or Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies. How about that, not hard from start to finish. I will agree that it has taken a little more time than I said, but not as long as going to the store and shopping for a gift and standing in those long lines.

Apple Butter Gifts

Apple Butter Gifts

Apple Butter was covered in one of my earlier blogs. Here is a link to it: go back and take a look, while you are looking at older blogs look around in my blog files, I have over 50 other blogs that will give you great cooking idea to give or eat. Just click on a item or search in my blog role.

A Time of the Season means Time To Cook. Check it out because there are other recipes that go along with gifting. Many different holidays are happening this time of year, not just Christmas or Hanukkah. So many different friends or neighbors need a gift. Apple Butter fits in just about every bodies diet or foods to eat. So it is a perfect gift either in a basket with other personal items. Just put a bow on top and you have a great gift for your office. Low cost and everyone loves apple butter.


Jar Dollies

Gift Basket

A piece of fruit from the craft store


Can you make this?


A dollie and a piece of ribbon


A piece of wrapping paper and a ribbon or string


Cloth and a string

Making gifts you need a few ideas how to wrap or fix your jars for a gift. It is not hard, just a small amount of cloth and scissors and a little twine or string. Here are some ideas on how to decorate your gifts. Try one and you will see just how easy it is to make your jar look like a gift. In case you have a Secret Santa gift to get, why not make it something you have made! It will be easy and fast just add a bow on top.


Well I have run out of space for this blog. The mail man/woman is coming. So I have got to cut this off. Seems like I  just get started good and boom the old word count at the bottom of my page says Too Many Words!!!!

New tower

New tower

Before I forget, I know it has been a very long time since my last blog, but I have a good excuse. My computer went belly up, it died a slow and painful death and with it many of the things I had saved to the wrong place (not on my external hard drives). I have two 1 terabyte hard drives that I use for music and photos and important documents. I would recommend this for everyone. Well anyhow, I bought a new tower and had to buy all new programs to go with my new operating system. Seems my ancient programs did not work very good with the modern computers. I am now back up and running while still learning.

Don’t forget…. let me know what you would like to make or any ideas you have for the next blog. I do take requests they are free, I don’t even have a “Tip Jar”.

Also if you have any questions you would like me to try to solve. Just drop me a note at  Please feel free to SHARE my blog on Facebook or Twitter or even, or any place else you can think.

I want to get as many people exposed to the good things as possible. So share and ask your friends to share, PLEASE. They just might give you something that they made to say thanks for the share. Don’t keep my blogs a secret, pass the word on to your friends, neighbors and family members.santa-hat

Don’t forget, if someone asks you can you can it? 


Reply                                Yes I Can Can It!










About Pete Austin & The Austin House

My wife, Mary Lynn and I had a very sucessful canning business for over 15 years, called The Austin House Jams & Jellies. We had to close it due to pure health. I will be writing a blog about some of the recipes, and how to use them. Also some of the interesting, funny, weird things that have happened in our traveling with the business. If you follow me, you will see that I look at things just a little different than others. If you look at the header at the top of the page, you see that I am looking at things. Making sure eveything looks as good as possible.
This entry was posted in Apple, Apple Butter, Award Winning, Best of Show, Canning Jars, Canning Salt, Cider Vinegar, Citrus Fruit, Cookies, Cooking, Dollie, Family Tradition, Food Gifts, Food Preservation, Fruit Butters, Georgia National Fair, Gift Basket, Holiday Cooking, Holiday Gifting, Home Made, Hot, Hot Pack, Jar Dollie, Jelly Cookie, Key Lime Juice, No artifical ingredients, No preservatives, Old Fashioned, Preserves, Secret Santa Gifts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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