Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Rhubarb Jam with Apricot

This recipe for Rhubarb Jam with Apricot is one of the additional recipes on Grandma’s card for Rhubarb Jam. She wrote on her card about 3 other kinds of pie filling that would be good in her recipe for Rhubarb Jam, so I decided to try them all. I’ve already tried Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry, and next up is the Rhubarb Jam with Apricot, which would also be good. I’m sure this is a bit confusing but my original recipe for Rhubarb Jam on Plenty Sweet Life was from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. Then I found Grandma’s recipe card with her recipe written on it, along with the 3 different flavors she also thought would be good. That’s where the confusion is – the recipe for Rhubarb Jam from the church cookbook and Grandma’s original Rhubarb Jam (from my post for Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry) recipe on her card are basically the same, so I didn’t make that recipe again. Ok. I’m glad we have that straightened out! Whew!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Jam with Apricot

Mix together and let stand overnight:

5 cups rhubarb, chopped

3 cups sugar

Cook 20 minutes.

Stir in:

1 small package strawberry jello

1 can apricot pie filling

Pour into jars.

Store in refrigerator.

I let the rhubarb and sugar sit in the refrigerator overnight, covered with plastic wrap. This makes a nice amount of juice with which to make the jam.

After cooking the rhubarb and sugar mixture for 20 minutes, all you do is stir in the Strawberry Jello and apricot pie filling.

I use a wide mouth funnel to get the jam into the jars without spilling TOO much. There was enough jam for 2 pint sized jars and 3 smaller containers (a taste that went home with my kids).

You can see the chunks of delicious rhubarb in the jam. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.

I like to use the jam for a topping on yogurt. Don’t forget a little sprinkling of Granola on top, too.

Like most, if not all, of Grandma’s recipes, this jam is absolutely delicious with an apricot flavor that mellowed a bit the next day. It’s so easy to make, and great for a hostess gift if you’re spending a weekend at a cabin, heading to a barbeque, or just want to make someone’s day. We’re keeping it a “Nothing But Easy Summer” by making this easy to make, delicious Rhubarb Jam with Apricot!


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Preserving and Pickling Jalapeno Peppers

Preserving and Pickling Jalapeno Peppers is NOT something that Grandma would have done. I take that back. If she had GROWN jalapeno peppers, she would definitely have found a way to preserve or pickle them. I just don’t think she ever would have grown this kind of pepper. While she and Grandpa didn’t mind an occasional pizza (mostly frozen), these were Scandinavians to whom ketchup was spicy (so jokes the family). My garden is starting to produce peppers faster than I can use them, so I came up with this method for preserving and/or pickling them. I use the syrup for Refrigerator Pickles, but without the spices, and the jar goes into the refrigerator so I can keep adding peppers and they grow and/or we eat them. Sorry for using “and/or” so much, but I guess it’s necessary in this particular recipe. We want to pickle the peppers, but not make them pickles. Does that make sense? Maybe I should say, I want to preserve the peppers instead of pickle them. Regardless, this is an easy way to preserve and/or pickle the peppers so you can save them and use them longer.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Preserving and Pickling Jalapeno Peppers

Mix together in a microwaveable container (I used my glass measuring cup):

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup sugar

1/8 cup salt

Heat 45-60 seconds in microwave to warm and more easily dissolve the sugar and salt.

Whisk until sugar dissolves and set aside.


as many jalapeno peppers as you can get into a pint canning jar (I sliced them about 1/8″ thick – not too thin – and I got 10 peppers into this jar)

Put sliced peppers into a jar and top with lid and ring.

Pour syrup over top of peppers.

Screw on lid and ring and store in refrigerator.

Let sit at least 2 weeks (a month is better).

This is such a simple recipe and it’s so easy to do – I’m glad I decided to try it. We love jalapeno peppers, but we just don’t use them up fast enough. This is a great way to preserve them.

There are 10 peppers sliced in this pint canning jar.

I always label the lid so I know when I started the jar.

Here are the sliced peppers all ready for the refrigerator. You can see my next project in the background – the bags with 3 dozen ears of sweet corn ready to get into the freezer.

Here’s a bonus way to preserve your jalapeno peppers – freezing them! I just put the whole washed peppers onto a baking sheet in a single layer, freeze for about an hour . . .

. . . and put them into a zip top freezer bag. If you don’t freeze them this way, you could end up with a frozen ball of peppers that you can’t get at unless you thaw the whole ball – this enables you to take out one, two, or as many as you need at a time. Label the bag with the date and what they are and just take them out when you need them. You can cut them into halves and take out the membranes and seeds, or chop them into small pieces, but freezing them whole works well for what I use them for.

Here is the finished product! It looks like you can already see space at the bottom of the jar – just add more peppers when they are ready to pick in from the garden. I’m in Grandma and Grandpa’s camp when it comes to my taste in spicy, but my family loves a little heat (mostly the boys). I don’t especially love it when steam blows out my ears and my eyes are tearing up so bad that tears are flowing from my eyes. They loved these and proclaimed them “just right”. I guess that means not TOO hot or spicy, but obviously hot and spicy enough. These are delicious, and you’re going to love Preserving and Pickling Jalapeno Peppers for use all winter long.



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Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry

I have made Rhubarb Jam before, but today I’m trying Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry. When I made the first Rhubarb Jam on the blog, I used a recipe that I found in one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks. Then I was looking through Grandma’s recipe cards when I found what is essentially the same recipe written out by her. The only difference is that on the bottom of the card, she had written that using pie filling is good. Well, I mean really, we HAVE to try that! She says that apricot, blueberry, and strawberry pie filling are good. We know strawberry would be good because when making the jam, it calls for Strawberry Jello. I’ll have to try apricot sometime, too, just because I’m curious – how would that taste? Blueberry being my favorite – that’s the one I decided to try now. Would the blueberry overpower the deliciousness of the rhubarb? We shall see (as Grandma would say).

This sounds a bit odd, but here we go.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry

Let stand awhile (I let it stand overnight covered in the refrigerator) so it will give good juice:

5 cups rhubarb, chopped

3 cups sugar

Cook (20 minutes if we want to follow the other recipe for Rhubarb Jam).


1 small package Strawberry Jello

1 can blueberry pie filling

(I cooked the rhubarb and Strawberry Jello together for 15 minutes – no I didn’t read the other recipe first or I would have seen that you just cook the rhubarb alone first – then I cooked it all together with the pie filling for another 5 minutes. It turned out great anyway!)

Pour into jars and keep in refrigerator.

I let the rhubarb and sugar sit in the refrigerator overnight. It made a lot of nice juice, but didn’t really dissolve the sugar.

I added the Strawberry Jello and cooked it 15 minutes.

Add the blueberry pie filling and cook it another 5 minutes.

I only had pint jars available to me when I made this batch, but half pints would be great for hostess gifts.

I thought the blueberry might overpower the rhubarb, but it didn’t. You still get a definite rhubarb flavor in this jam. It is so good!

You can still see the pieces of rhubarb along with the blueberries in the jam. You need to try a batch of this jam now when rhubarb is plentiful and basically free. This recipe is very easy to do and pretty fast to make. The jam is great on toast, English muffins, angel food cake, pound cake, or ice cream. Any way you want to taste it, you’re going to LOVE this Rhubarb Jam with Blueberry!




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Peaches (Canned)

The month of August is the time of year when we start to put in supplies for the winter! I know that sounds like we’re pioneers trying to save food for the long, hard, cold winter, but that’s how I’ve always felt about it. My family used to do these things every year when I was growing up, and now everyone seems to be so into preserving local produce. It’s the way our grandparents preserved the fruit and vegetables from their own gardens and orchards back when they were young (and during the Great Depression), and they also make sure they had some fresh food in the middle of winter here in Minnesota. Now we’re doing it just because it’s the best way to get fresh and local food saved for later use. We know what’s in the food and we know where it came from. I love that. We’re starting to harvest vegetables from the garden and there are delicious fruits in the markets like berries, peaches, and pears to can or freeze, and there are apples to make into applesauce or desserts. There are so many fun ways to preserve foods, and it’s time to get busy, busy, busy!! Canning was a family chore. Both grandmas and my mom would all do it, and I would help them all with it. August was always a warm time of year to do this because none of the three homes had air conditioning. We’d fire up the electric fans and we’d be ready to work. It was always fun to do it together when everyone pitched in and made the chore go faster. Someone had to blanch the fruit and get it into the ice water bath to make the peeling easier, then someone had to do the peeling and cutting (I loved to snitch pieces of the fruit when doing this, but the more you snitched of the delicious fruit, the longer it would take, so snitching was out!), and someone had to be in charge of the canner and the timing. It was a bit of hard work, but a lot of fun and family time. Peaches (Canned) is a basic recipe that you can use to get your peaches ready to use later. They don’t last long when you buy them, as we all know, and once they’re ripe, it’s go time.

peaches canned

peaches canned 2

There are a couple of different sized batches here to choose from, depending on how many pints you want to get from your peaches. Lucky you! You get a bonus canned pear recipe here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peaches (Canned)

Mix together in a saucepan:

1 pint water

1 cup sugar

13 peaches (quartered, halved, or sliced)

Bring to a boil.

Put into clean, hot jars, top with a lid and a ring, and process according to the National Center for Food Preservation website.


It’s funny how something so simple can end up being so delicious!


You can use the boiling water/ice bath method for peeling, but if the peaches are ripe enough, you don’t really need to do that. Just peel them any way you want to.


So pretty. I love peaches.


Peeling and quartering takes a while, so I would do that first. The recipe calls for 13 peaches, but I thought my peaches looked a bit small so I used 15. I got 4 pints instead of 3 from those 15 peaches.


The National Center for Food Preservation shows two ways to make peaches: hot pack or cold pack, and I used hot pack here. That just means the fruit and syrup are hot when you put them into the jars.


Putting the fruit into the jars is definitely easier with a wide-mouthed canning funnel. I only had 4 jars of fruit, so I used my large stockpot instead of the canner. Put something like a silicone trivet or a folded up dishcloth between the bottom of the pot and the jars, if possible, to prevent cracking the jars.


Take the jars out of the canner or pot and let them cool on a rack. Listen for the pop of the lids to know that they’re sealed. If they don’t pop, they aren’t sealed and you’ll just have to eat them right away. Oh well, it’s not all bad when they don’t seal. Aren’t they pretty? All ready for the cupboard. Next winter when we need a bite of sunshine, I’ll take them out and we’ll have delicious peaches! Nothing better.




Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

I found this recipe last summer when I saw these beautiful little pears at the Farmer’s Market and I HAD to buy them. While searching the internet for what to do with these little beauties, I found this recipe for Seckel Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup at Sweet You can find the original recipe that I used here. I used one jar of them during the holidays and when it was my turn to have book club, I thought I would share the last jar of these sweet and spicy pears.


Seckel pears aren’t really common in these parts, and I love using local produce whenever possible, so that sealed the deal.


They were just so beautiful, I couldn’t resist!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Seckle Pears in Spiced Honey Syrup

(I used half of this recipe)

8 pears (enough for 2 quart jars)

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups honey

2 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

6 cardamom pods

(I didn’t have any star anise, so I just left them out. I also didn’t have cardamom pods so I used 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom and it seemed to work ok. Because I was short of spice, I still used 2 cinnamon sticks even though I made a half batch.)

Scrub pears well in hot water and remove any stickers.

Sterilize jars, rings, and lids.

You can find canning instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

For the honey syrup:

In a saucepan combine honey and water and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes and then turn off heat.

Fill each jar with pears (I cut the pears in half so they fit better).

Then put half the spices in each jar.

Carefully pour the honey syrup over top of pears leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.

Put on lids and rings and can according to instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

After canning, let jars sit for about an hour.

If they haven’t sealed, put in refrigerator and use within a month.

If the jars have sealed, put in a cool, dry place and use within one year.


I had enough for two pint jars of pears.


Even after canning, they’re just so beautiful! I’m glad I saved them for a special occasion.


At Christmastime we had these with brie cheese on a baguette and that was delicious. For book club, we had them with a Vermont aged white cheddar, which was also delicious. We came to the conclusion that they are indeed – delicious!


Another benefit of these delicious pears is that you can save the honey syrup and use it on your pancakes. I would suggest that you use them on these Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes. I hope this gives you the confidence to go ahead and try something new. When you see beautiful local produce, go ahead – get it and try it in something new! You won’t be sorry, and you won’t even need to wait to use it for a special occasion!



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Hot Bath Tomatoes

We had a garden every summer when I was growing up, both of my grandmas and grandpas had gardens every summer when I was growing up, and I have a garden every summer. There would be tomatoes coming out of our ears from these gardens (all except mine – I’ve lost all the sun needed to grow tomatoes – too many trees). We had to do something to preserve these tomatoes, so canning was the best option. Grandma did this every year, she taught my mom how to do it, and she taught me and my sister how to do it. Who knew that they were called Hot Bath Tomatoes – we just called them canned tomatoes!! We would have an assembly line going to tackle this huge project: someone would be putting the tomatoes into the boiling water to get the peel off easily, then someone would be putting the tomatoes into the ice water bath to stop the tomatoes from cooking too much. We would all have paring knives to peel the skin off of the tomatoes and cut them into fourths. Then the tomatoes were heated just to boiling and popped into the clean, sterilized jars, the rims were wiped clean with a damp towel, the lids were taken from boiling water and put onto the top of the jars, and at last the lids were screwed on. That was my favorite part back then, seeing the jars lined up and ready to go into the canner. If felt good to have helped make these things we would have to eat later in the winter. There was such a camaraderie with the whole family helping. It was hot work with the canner heating up the kitchen (it was usually done in late August or early September), and it was a lot of work to get it all done, but I LOVED it!!! I just loved it.

Hot Bath Tomatoes

These tomatoes are so great for making all of those sauces and soups later in the winter!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Hot Bath Tomatoes

Peel and cut tomatoes (for easier peeling, put into boiling water for 30-45 seconds, then into an ice bath to stop the cooking).

Bring tomatoes just to a boil.

Put into jars (quarts or pints) and leave 1/2 inch of head space at the top of the jar.

Put jars in canner, having water covering jars with 2 inches of water.

Boil for 45 minutes in canner.

You can find the recommendations for this on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Cool and listen for the “pop” of the lid sealing.


I haven’t canned tomatoes this year (I did make a batch of Grandma’s Tomato Soup), but I did do them last year and I have just one jar left.


You can see the tomatoes cut into fourths and how they make their own juice. There’s nothing but tomatoes in here!


We use a lot of tomatoes throughout the year in spaghetti sauce, lasagna, soups, hot dish, the list goes on and on. Canning tomatoes this way is a tomato saver AND a money saver!


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