Colors in Jars

canning by bird and bicycle

I am still new to preserving and canning food in jars. I don’t know everything, but I do know what I like. As a maker, I like to experiment. As a Taurus, I am a rule follower and like to not mess with food safety or the “rules” of canning home foods. The combination of cooking and canning is a wonderful chemistry experiment, with delicious results! However, I do add lots of sugar, honey, vinegar, and all that to make sure my jams and salsas and pickles will be perfect in every jar.

I love doing a lot of work one day, to eat amazing foods for months to come. I love having the taste of hot summer days in the middle of grey winter clouds. I love having sweet treats that are very easy to prep to give to my family and friends. The benefits of canning and preserving food are truly wonderful, and the colorful jars you get are a delight. Let’s start with the rainbow, Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. OH MY GOSH doesn’t violet jam sound fantastic? I may need to figure that out.


Hot Pepper Jam

hot pepper jam by bird and bicycle

Can you see the suspended peppers in this jar? The orange base with the minced bits of hot and bell peppers are so bright and fun. You can see I didn’t skim a ton of foam off the jam before ladling it into the jars, it is the light yellowish orange rim on top of the jam. It isn’t harmful at all, so no worries there.

hot pepper jam - food in jars - bird and bicycle

This jam is impressive, easy to make, very affordable ingredients, and a great instant snack. I tend to reheat this jam for about 15seconds in the microwave and mix it with goat cheese. The hot pepper spread is amazing on fresh bread of crackers. So delicious!

Tomato Jam

vanilla tomato jam by bird and bicycle food in jars

This vanilla tomato jam is the magic of my entire canning season last year. I was trying to replicate the tomato jam my grandmother made every summer. She would send home the little jars of her super sweet tomato jam, a bright red orange color that was almost sheer on toast. I don’t have her recipe, but this one was a great attempt. This tomato jam is an intense red, the vanilla beans I used giving it a heavenly scent. I can’t wait to make more of this next year. The liquid pectin came out super solid to make this a very smooth spread. I only made four jars of this jam. I gave one to each of my sisters and have saved this jar in the back of my cupboard all winter. I can’t wait for the rainy day when it’s time to crack this baby open.

Plum Jam

plum jam by bird and bicycle - preserving jam

Plum jam is by far the easiest fruit to preserve. Plums seem to grow in everyone’s backyard, are cheap and you don’t even peel them. A little secret: I didn’t like plums until I made this amazing plum cake. Once I made the cake, I made more plum jam than was probably ever necessary. Plums. There are many types of plums, and each have their own uniqueness, but they all have these fibers in them as you can see from the picture. You don’t really notice them when eating, but to me they are gorgeous. Plums are red to purple, and always surprise me when their flesh is yellowish green.


Nectarine Jam

nectarine sauce by bird and bicycle

This is my spiced nectarine jam. It is chunky and spiced with ginger, cloves and cinnamon. I wanted a thick compote from this, so I left half the nectarine’s in very large spoon sized chunks. I love the spices mixed in, creating a sense of warmth. The spices I used absolutely colored and darkened these nectarines, to a rich almost rust or burnt sienna. Matching food to colors of the rainbow is challenging.

Honey-Roasted Nectarine Compote

honey roasted nectarine compote - preserving food in jars by bird and bicycle

I am pretty sure I used a recipe in the Food in Jars book for this. Oh, here is the honey roasted nectarine compote recipe I used. I bought that book, along with checking out and reading about 5 or 6 canning books this past summer. Her blog has fantastic recipes, go there for real information on canning and preserving foods. The honey roasted nectarines had an extra step (the roasting part) but it was so worth it. I eat half a jar in one sitting. They are pure magic.


Peach Sauce

peach sauce bird and bicycle food in jars

This peach sauce is one of the best and most beautiful things I produced last summer. I love my local farm stands, and I was lucky to get a giant box of peaches and some vanilla beans. The dark brown flecks are from the vanilla bean, scrapped and boiled with the fruit. It smells like heavy and is magical on pancakes or in a peach melba. I bet it would rock a smoothie too. The golden color and heavy scent of peach takes me back to July.


Ok, that is enough of my pantry exposed for today. I will continue the rainbow tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “Colors in Jars

  1. So many beautiful preserves! I’ve never had tomato jam – only heard it mentioned on cooking shows! I never expected vanilla in it though!
    I notice you don’t have the screw-on ring lids on your jars – is that just personal preference? I always assumed they were necessary, but clearly not?

    • What an excellent question! I don’t store my jams with the rings on them, that way I can easily see any discoloration or signs of spoilage. I am a part of a small 3 person family. We don’t even eat a jar a week and I bet I have 100 jars! So the rings sit in a box until I need them to boil the food. Also, canning has taught me to add a vanilla bean to everything. I love them.

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