Preserve Recipes Turn a Bountiful Harvest into Holiday Gifts in a Jar

Get a Head Start on Holiday Gifts with 8 Food Preservation Recipes

Promoted by Harvest Right
Preserve Recipes Turn a Bountiful Harvest into Holiday Gifts in a Jar

Reading Time: 8 minutes

You could have a pantry full of superior edibles made from preserve recipes that make convenient, thoughtful gifts in a jar from your pantry or freezer.

Want to avoid the traffic, crowded stores, and expensive prices when shopping for holiday gifts? Here’s how. Use these preserve recipes to keep seasonal foods when they’re at their peak. You could have a pantry full of superior edibles made from preserve recipes that make convenient, thoughtful gifts in a jar from your pantry or freezer. The bonus? No need to run to the mall for last minute gifts. A gift from the hands is a gift from the heart! Whether you’re a newbie at “putting foods by” or an accomplished cook when it comes to fruit, nut, and vegetable preserve recipes, harvest is the time to bring these preserve recipes to your kitchen. You can create memorable, one-of-a-kind edible gifts in a jar from preserve recipes that say “I love you,” “Welcome,” “Thanks,” or “Just Because.”

When I was learning how to make fruit and nut preserve recipes, my mom would pick up books on food preservation recipes for me, including a cherished one on meat preservation methods. At harvest time, we’d set aside a “canning weekend,” adapting preserve recipes from those books. (Mom had me write notes in the margins of the preserve recipes and when I see those notes today, I am transported back to my mother’s kitchen. Precious memories!) By the time she left, the shelves in my antique pie safe looked like they were groaning under the weight of preserved foods.

The average family wastes $2,275 worth of food each year!

Free Guide from Harvest Right and learn how to save that money, keep the food almost as nutritious as the fresh state and be prepared at the same time. Learn about these benefits and more at

The preserve recipes for some of these gifts in a jar use specific food preservation methods like water-bath canning. This allows the jars to be stored for months in the pantry. These preserved foods travel well, so they make excellent gifts in a jar for those in our armed forces or for folks who live far away. Other recipes are easily stored in the freezer until ready to be eaten.

Cinnamon Cider Applesauce

We have several old apple trees here on our little patch of heaven. Each year, we harvest enough Jonathans to make this applesauce.

Cinnamon cider applesauce and other harvest preserve recipes

Except for red delicious, which tends to lose flavor when cooked,  just about any apple will work. The sweeter the apple, the less sweetener is required. Or leave the sweetener out altogether.

Instead of cooking the apples in water, I use organic apple cider for a boost of nutrients and great flavor. Even today, home canned applesauce is considered on of the best survival foods. Apples can help regulate blood sugar, and the fiber is good for your digestive system. Cinnamon is a tasty addition that can help lower cholesterol.


  • 5 pounds apples
  • Apple cider
  • Sugar, honey or stevia (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)


  1. Wash, stem and quarter apples; do not core or peel. Cook in a large covered pot over medium heat stirring occasionally until soft, with just enough cider to keep them from sticking. I use my potato masher to hurry the process along.
  2. You could also use a slow cooker, either on low or high heat.
  3. Press apples and juice through a food mill to separate seeds and peels from  the pulp. Place pulp in a large pot.
  4. Add sweetener.  A good rule of thumb is about 1/4 cup sugar or two tablespoons honey per pound of apples.
  5. Bring applesauce to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking. Reduce heat; simmer five minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
  6. Add cinnamon to taste. For five pounds of apples, I usually add a heaping tablespoon.
  7. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. Remove air bubbles by taking a knife and running it around the inside edge of the jar. Wipe rims with a clean wet cloth. Adjust two-piece caps.
  8. Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
  9. Remove jars from canner. Let cool and store in the pantry.

Yield: Approximately four pints.

Variation: Cranberry Applesauce

Cranberry applesauce

Add a couple cups of fresh cranberries to the apples at the start of cooking time. Adjust sweetener.

Any extra apples get oven dried or freeze dried for healthful gifts and snacks. Oven-dried apple slices shrink and lose a little color as they dehydrate. They keep very well up to a year in the pantry.

Freeze-dried apples will still look and taste about the same as when they were fresh. They look especially appetizing. Freeze-dried items are pantry stable for up to 25 years.

I love the fact that either of these can be “stacked and packed.”  Thoughtful gifts in a jar for the athlete or hiker on your list.

Dried apple slices

Maple Walnut Syrup

Maple walnut syrup

This gourmet treat can be made with any nuts. I like walnuts since they’re a good buy in the fall.  The recipe can be doubled.

Write on the gift tag to heat until warm before using. Package with an ice cream scoop. If you make homemade vanilla like I do, include a small bottle as well. This is also delicious as a topping for baked Camembert or Brie.


  • 1-1/4 cups  clear corn syrup
  • 1-1/4  cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups roasted nuts, chopped very coarsely
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Combine syrups, water, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
  2. Stir in nuts and cook five minutes more.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims with a clean wet cloth. Adjust two-piece caps.
  5. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
  6. Remove jars from canner. Let cool and store in the pantry.

Yield: Three jars, 8 oz. each

Spiced Honey

Several times a year, our beekeeper brings me organic, raw honey.  That’s what I use in this very special recipe. This recipe doubles easily.

This spiced honey is not only delicious on a goat cheese-topped baguette as an appetizer (sprinkle with a few lemon thyme leaves), it’s a healthful home remedy for upper respiratory ailments. Both the cinnamon and cloves have antiseptic qualities. Honey is already predigested for instant energy and the lemon is a good immune system booster.


  • 1 large lemon
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 3 sticks cinnamon, 2” each
  • 3 cups honey


  1. Cut lemon into six slices and stick two cloves in each slice.
  2. Put lemon slices, cinnamon sticks and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove lemon slices carefully.
  4. Place two lemon slices and one cinnamon stick in each hot jar.
  5. Ladle honey into hot jars, leaving 1/4” headspace. Wipe rims with a clean wet cloth. Adjust two-piece caps.
  6. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
  7. Remove jars from canner. Let cool and store in the pantry.

Yield: Three jars, 8 oz. each

Pecan Praline Syrup

I like to pack this in a small basket with a jar of maple walnut syrup. A delicious duo for those nut lovers in your life!


  • 2 cups dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan pieces, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a large pan over medium heat, combine syrup, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Boil one minute.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and stir in pecans. Simmer six to eight minutes.
  3. Stir in vanilla. Ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
  4. Wipe rims with a clean wet cloth. Adjust two-piece caps.
  5. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner.
  6. Remove jars from canner. Let cool and store in the pantry.

Yield: Four jars, 8 oz. each

Blueberry Hotcake Syrup

Blueberry hotcake syrup

Stock up on seasonal blueberries by freezing, uncovered, in single layers on baking sheets until frozen solid. Then pack into freezer containers.  Berries will pour out easily.

This is a fun set of gifts in a jar to give in a towel-lined basket alongside a container of homemade hotcake/pancake mix. On the gift tag, note that the sauce should be warmed before eating.


  • 1 quart blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2-1/4 cups cool water divided into 2 cups and 1/4 cup
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar or honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Whisk together 1/4 cup water and cornstarch. Set aside.
    In a large pan, add blueberries, two cups water, sugar or honey and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and stir until blueberries start bursting open and mixture thickens.
    Ladle into containers, let cool and seal.
  3. Freeze up to four months. Can be stored in refrigerator up to three weeks.

Yield: About four containers, 8 oz. each.

Raspberry Chipotle Refrigerator/Freezer Jam

Go to taste on this, adding more or less heat/peppers. This mixture may be a bit loose at first but it sets up nicely. This is delicious dolloped on top of a Western omelet.


  • 3 tablespoons dry pectin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with seeds removed if desired
  • 12 oz. bag frozen raspberries, thawed but not mushy or a heaping 3 cups if using fresh berries


  1. Combine pectin and sugar in a bowl, whisking to blend.
  2. In a food processor, put in peppers, raspberries, and pectin mixture. Process until smooth.
  3. Pour into a bowl and let sit for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Ladle into containers, leaving 1/2″ headspace and seal.
  5. Freeze up to four months or refrigerate up to three weeks.

Yield: Four containers, 4 oz. each

Two Berry Freezer Jam

Two berry freezer jam

I like to nestle this in a small basket with a jar of natural peanut or almond butter.


  • 1 pound each raspberries and blackberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice. Let stand for two hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  2. Put fruit mixture in large pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to prevent sticking.
  3. Mash with potato masher to a thick puree.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook until mixture begins to thicken, 15-20 minutes should do it. Don’t overcook or jam will be too stiff.
  5. Ladle into containers, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Let cool on counter and seal.
  6. Store in freezer up to four months.

Yield: Four containers, 8 oz. each

Freezer Pickles

Freezer pickles

I have friends who are passionate about these bread-and-butter type freezer pickles. The right mix of sweet and tangy flavors and a whole lot of crunch! My sister, Sonia, gave me this recipe years ago. She told me to make lots because everybody loves them!

Give with a gift certificate for a honey-baked ham.  Note on gift tag that pickles should thaw overnight in the refrigerator.


  • 2 quarts thinly sliced Kirby, pickling or English cucumbers
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 2  teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1-1/2 cups cider vinegar, 5% acid
  • 3 cups sugar


  1. Combine cucumbers, onion, pepper and carrots. Stir in salt, celery and mustard seed.
  2. Mix vinegar and sugar together. Pour over cucumber mixture. Stir to combine. Sugar will not dissolve all the way.
  3. Cover and refrigerate three days, stirring each day. This allows sugar to dissolve completely.
  4. Leaving 1” headspace, pack in freezable containers, making sure the pickles are covered in juice. Seal and freeze up to six months.

Do you have favorite recipes that you make each year as gifts in a jar?  Would you be so kind as to share? I would love to hear about the stories that go along with the recipes as well!

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