How to Make Homemade Grassfed Ghee

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones checks in today to show us all how to make gorgeous, homemade grassfed ghee. Looking at these pictures, I can almost smell the nuttiness of the melting butter! -Marisa

Butter melting into homemade grassfed ghee

During my years as a local foods buyer for the CSA at Greensgrow Farm and Fair Food Farmstand here in Philly, I brought home my share of produce that was still delicious but no longer sellable. Those leftover, cosmetically damaged, or too ripe to sell fruits and vegetables kept my fridge full. My proximity to occasional stashes of “seconds” even spurred me to learn how to preserve those goodies for later use.

I’m no longer bringing home flats of half-moldy strawberries to pick over or sacks of so-ripe-they-burst figs on a regular basis. But my work with local farms and food makers still yields the occasional bounty of perishable product that can be turned into something delicious and shelf-stable.

The most recent foodstuff in need of a little TLC came from my friend Stefanie, cheesemaker and owner of Valley Milkhouse and one of the two area cheesemakers (along with Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm) with whom I run the CSA-style cheese subscription Collective Creamery.

I’dd gone up to Stef’s farmhouse in the Oley Valley, about 90 minutes northwest of Philly, for an evening meeting and spent the following day helping out in the cheese room. When I was ready to head back to the city, she sent me on my way with a very special treat: a half-full five-gallon bucket of cultured butter that was a little past its prime — but the only ingredient I’d need to make a big batch of homemade grassfed ghee.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 4 }

Quick Pickled Balsamic Strawberries

Today’s guest post comes to us from Erin Urquhart, blogger at Putting Up With Erin. She’s stopped by to share her recipe for Quick Pickled Balsamic Strawberries. Welcome to Food in Jars, Erin! 

baskets of strawberries for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

Strawberries are like gold at my farmers market. I’ve been known to spend as much as twenty minutes in line, waiting to get my hands on some locally-grown strawberries (and I have my suspicions that many of you have done the same).

Like locally grown heirloom tomatoes, strawberries are at their peak for a limited amount of time. It takes time and dedication to wait out the other shoppers in order to get the best pick, particularly if you want to have enough to can. I like to put up at least a dozen jars of various strawberry preserves and pickles to get me through the year. They take time and energy, but they’re always worth it.

fresh thyme for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

In years past I’ve played with canned strawberries, pickled green strawberries, strawberry jam , and strawberry whole grain mustard. With only a week left to get my quick-pickled entry in for the Mastery Challenge, I decided to spice it up a bit and try quick pickled balsamic strawberries.

What I love the most about quick-fridge pickling is that it affords you a bit more adventure in your recipes due to modern refrigeration. Even better, because these berries never take a trip through a boiling water bath canner, they hold their texture and shape nicely.

slivered strawberries for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

A familiar combination for strawberry jam, the acid in the balsamic vinegar is a perfect compliment to the sweet berries. There’s no need to buy an uber fancy balsamic vinegar for this recipe. Get something that you’d buy for making quick vinaigrettes.

mustard, thyme and balsamic brine for quick pickled balsamic strawberries

I used a $7 commercially produced organic balsamic vinegar that I picked up from the local food co-op. And because I wanted the pickles to have even more flavor and interest, I decided to get funky by substituting soy sauce for salt, and adding fresh thyme leaves and whole mustard seed to the mix.

quick pickled balsamic strawberries in their jars

The result: a sweet and tangy pickled strawberry backed by the depth of the balsamic vinegar. Enjoy this balsamic strawberry pickle as a mid-day snack with ricotta cheese, cracked black pepper, and some citrus zest, OR simply add a spoonful of pickles to a light field greens salad.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 11 }

Giveaway: “Make Your Own” Cleaning Kits from The Optimist Co.

Homemade cleaning products, compiled in my kitchen using the kit from The Optimist Co. have been in regular use in my kitchen for nearly two years now. They are effective and, thanks to the clear instructions on the bottles, incredibly easy to make. Plus, I love the fact that instead of carting home new spray bottles from Target or CVS, I’m reusing the ones I’ve already got.

Recently, The Optimist Co. founder Devin Donaldson (who started the company after conventional cleaning products left her with a nasty asthma attack) got in touch and asked if I might like to try a second kit. At first, I was confused because I’ve been entirely pleased with the first kit and the two products they make.

But Devin reminded me that it’s possible to do more than just make Time to Shine and Bright Side with the goodies in the box. And so I started thinking about other cleaning products that might be useful in the kitchen.

The first thing that popped to mind was a bottle of pre-made produce rinse. With farmers market and CSA season rapidly approaching, I know that very soon I will have a lot of pretty dirty produce on my hands. Instead of regularly filling the sink with a little white vinegar and water, having something that I can spritz over lettuces, zucchini, and strawberries sounds pretty darned appealing.

For this one, I used 12 ounces of water, three tablespoons of white vinegar and ten drops of the lemon essential oil from the kit (for both the sunny scent and the extra boost of antiseptic that it provides). A quick shake before using and my produce has never been cleaner.

The second thing that occurred to me was something that would help out with cleaning the kitchen floor. As many of you know, my kitchen is pretty tiny. Because there’s so little floor real estate, I rarely pull out a mop to get the job done (to be honest, I don’t think I even have a mop anymore). Instead, I do a lot of after-dinner spot cleaning (supplemented by the occasional, all-out, hands and knees scrub with a sponge and bucket of soapy water).

For that cleaner, I used 14 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of castile soap, and 7 drops of the eucalyptus essential oil. It’s powerful enough to help cut through splatters of cooking grease, but not so soapy that I have to follow up with several rounds of rinsing. And I love the earthiness of the eucalyptus (we had eucalyptus trees in our back yard when I was very young and as a result, their scent forever feels comforting and home-like to me).

In order to encourage the Food in Jars community to think DIY and explore what The Optimist Co. kit can do in your homes, Devin is offering up three of her Make Your Own Cleaning Products Kit for this week’s giveaway. Please use the widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comments { 86 }

Upcoming Classes & Events: April, May, and June 2017

We are hurtling towards the true start of the canning season (at least up here in the mid-Atlantic region. I know lots of you down south have been canning for months) and so my teaching season is starting up as well. I’m not teaching nearly as much as I have in past years, so if you want to take a class with me, make sure to mark your calendars and sign up! As always, my full calendar can be found here.

Saturday, April 29 (Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill)
(THERE ARE JUST THREE SPOTS LEFT IN THIS CLASS) In this two-hour, hands-on workshop at the Morris Arboretum, you’ll learn the basics of pickling. I’ll walk you through the steps of pickling carrots in a vinegar brine and fermenting cucumbers in a salt water brine. Marisa will also show you how to safely preserve the vinegar pickles using the boiling water bath method. All students will go home with the recipes and canning details, as well as a jar of carrot pickles made in class that day. $40/45. Register here.

Sunday, May 7 (Headhouse Square, Philadelphia)
This is the final opening day for the Headhouse Square Farmers Market (they’ll now be doing year round!). I’ll be there from 10 am to 2 pm, along with fellow local authors Tenaya Darlington and Amanda Feifer, selling and signing books. If you don’t yet have a copy of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, come and pick one up.

Monday, May 8 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Grain Bowl class will teach you how to turn the contents of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into hearty and wholesome grain bowls. This class will focus on essential techniques, including different ways to cook grains, using the blender to make quick sauces, and how to combine flavors and textures for a satisfying spring meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

Thursday, May 11 (Haddon Township, NJ)
I’ll be at the Haddon Township branch of the Camden County Library system for a free jam making demo. I’ll show you how to make a batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam, sweetened with honey and set with Pomona’s Pectin. Bring your questions! 6:30-8 pm. Free.

Sunday, June 11 (Hillsdale, NY)
I’m teaching not one, but two classes at the Hillsdale General Store Home Chef. This is going to be a fun and satisfying day of canning. If you can swing it, I highly encourage the canning curious to join me for both classes.

11 am to 1:30 pm – An introductory canning class! We’ll make strawberry preserves and strawberry chutney and will dig into the details of boiling water bath canning. $55. Register here.
2:30-4:30 pm – Pressure canning! Join me for an in-depth pressure canning workshop. We’ll make onion jam with rosemary and balsamic vinegar and will safely can it in a pressure canner. $75. Register here.

Saturday, June 17 (Philadelphia)
In this hands on pickling workshop at Greensgrow in Kensington, we’ll make both shelf stable and fermented pickles. You’ll go home with a useful handout and the two jars of pickles you made in class. 12-2 pm. $35. Details and registration info here.

Tuesday, June 20 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Salad class will teach you how to turn the bounty of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into delicious satisfying entree salads. This class will focus on essential techniques, including whipping up a quick homemade dressing and how to combine flavors and textures for the perfect summer meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

 

Comments { 0 }

Links: Pickled Strawberries, Green Onion Kimchi, and Winners

This week has been a bit of a mess in my world. Just when I got myself clear of a 48 hour stomach bug, I managed to slide an inch-long splinter into the ball of my left foot, necessitating a trip to urgent care. I managed a pot of soup and some simply homemade pizza, but otherwise we’ve been surviving on scrambled eggs, bagged salad, and take-out. May this week be a little easier. Now links!


This Monday night (April 24, 2017), I’m going to do a Facebook Live broadcast on the topic of quick pickling. Join me at 9 pm eastern time and bring all your quick pickle questions!

Finally, our five winners in last week’s Cuppow giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Comments { 3 }

Cookbooks: The Quick Pickle Cookbook

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post rounding up some useful cookbooks to help inspire us all during this month of quick pickles. In my research for that post, I came across a new-to-me book on the topic called The Quick Pickle Cookbook.

Written by Food & Wine alum Grace Parisi, this slim volume came out last fall and is a delightful addition to my personal pickle resource library. I think many of you will feel similarly.

The book is divided into two sections, with vegetable pickles coming first and fruit pickles coming second. Scattered amidst the pickle recipes are dishes designed to help you put your pickles (and their leftover brine) to work.

Some of the recipes I’ve marked to try include the Smoky Okra Pickles (page 47), the Pickled Pepper Romesco (page 85), the Bourbon-Pickled Blackberries (page 97), and the Lime-Chile Pickled Pineapple (page 135).

If you’ve really enjoyed this month’s quick pickle challenge, consider adding this one to your library for future idea fodder!

Comments { 1 }