Links: Berry Jams, Pickles, and Winners

It's apricot season! A half bushel is seconds is all mine!

Oh friends. Canning season is on so hard right now. I have 25 pounds of apricots spread out on baking sheets on my living room floor, and I have four pounds of super ripe peaches on my kitchen counter. There are dilly beans fermenting on the dining room table, and I put a finished half gallon of kosher dills into the fridge. I both love and am totally overwhelmed by this time of year. Now, links!

chalk top boxes offset

I missed announcing winners in the Ball Blue Book giveaway from last week, so I’m going to double up and include those here as well as the winners in the Chalk Tops giveaway.

So, first the Ball Blue Book winners. They are #6/Rebecca, #75/Barbara Durkee, and #297/Eileen.

The Chalk Top winners are #37/Susie, #89/Deb, and #198/Sarah. Thanks to everyone who entered both these giveaways. I’ll have another fun one up tomorrow!

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Canning with Taste of Home Cooking School & Cooking Up a Story

holding jar over canner

Friends! I have two fun video-centric things to share with you. The first is that back at the beginning of May, I spent a day in a video studio in Connecticut co-hosting a series of canning how-to videos with the folks from the Taste of Home Cooking School.

My co-host was the delightful Nicki Sizemore and we spent the day making strawberry jam, a mixed pickle, and other tasty things. The Canning and Preserving course we recorded that day is now available for purchase and costs just $15. If you learn best by seeing other people do and demonstrate, this is a good one for you.

The other video news is that there’s a new piece from Cooking up a Story that features me! Rebecca and I met up last summer when I was in Portland and she saved some of the canning goodness we recorded that day for this season.

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Cherry Kompot

cherries in colander

When I was 16, I went to Poland. It was the first time I’d ever been outside of North America and I was thrilled to be seeing more of the world. I went with a small group of fellow teenagers from my Unitarian church, to be native speakers at English immersion camp outside of Warsaw.

It’s been twenty years now since that trip and while many of the specifics have blurred, I still remember the meals clearly. They were served family style at long tables, with benches on either side. Breakfast and dinner were much the same, consisting of sturdy rolls, cheese, butter, yogurt, jam, sliced cucumber, fruit, and often some ham or sausage. We drank tea, milk, and water.

cherries in water

The main meal was served at lunchtime and always consisted of three simple courses. First there would be soup (I had my first chilled cucumber soup that summer). Then there would be cooked meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. To finish, a fruit-based dessert. And in the upper right hand corner of the place setting, you also had a small glass filled with lukewarm juice, with a piece of cherry or plum resting at the bottom. This was the kompot.

steaming kompot

The first time I was confronted by a glass of kompot, I was wary. It was unlike any beverage I’d had in the US and the soften fruit in the bottom gave me pause. After one taste, I was among the kompot converted. It was mildly sweet and refreshing, reminding me slightly of what Kool Aid might be if made with fresh fruit.

finished compete

A few weeks back, 20 pounds of cherries arrived on my doorstep, sent by the Washington State Fruit Commission as part of the Canbassador program. As I gazed at those cherries pondering how to best use them, a memory of the kompot popped into my head. After a few quick searches, I cobbled a recipe together and brewed up a batch of cherry kompot. After it had cooled a little, I ladled up a glass and it tasted of that summer 20 years ago.

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July Sponsors: Cuppow, iLids, Fillmore Container, MightyNest, Mrs. Wages, Fermentools, Orchard Road, and Preserving Now

Orchard Road lid patterns

It’s the first of July and that means that it is time to thank those companies who help sustain this blog. Truly, I couldn’t do it without their support. If you appreciate them as much as I do, please follow a link or two and show them that you care.

Cuppow is the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. They also recently expanded their product line to include branded jar coozie and they’ve teamed up with the EIO Kids Cup folks to bring the manufacturing of that kids drinking system onto US soil. I’ve been particularly digging their Cuppow in the Wild Pinterest board lately.

iLids is a Seattle-based small business that makes both storage and drink lids in both regular and wide mouth sizes for mason jars. Their storage lids are water tight and the drink lids can accommodate a straw. I love how many colors their lids come in!

Fillmore Container is a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and sells all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. They recently started carrying my beloved 4th Burner Pot, which pleases me to no end.

MightyNest is an amazing resource for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families. We’re partnering on a fun tutorial and giveaway later this month, focused on preserving fruit slices without any refined sugar, so stay tuned for that.

Mrs. Wages makes pectin, vinegar, and more canning mixes than I can count. Their website is an incredible preserving resource and I can’t say enough good things about their salsa mix. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Fermentools offers a brilliant fermentation starter kit that involves a heavy-duty glass pickling weight, an airlock, a lid with a reusable rubber seal, and mineral-rich salt. Get one (or several!) to help turn your CSA goodies into naturally fermented pickles.

Orchard Road makes mason jars, lids, and rings for home canners. Now in their second year of business, you should be seeing their jars in more physical stores. If you’re not finding them out online store is now open for business, so you can now order them straight from the source.

Preserving Now is a small business based in Atlanta, Georgia run by Lyn Deardorff. This summer, in addition to teaching her regular Canning Immersion Classes, Lyn has added a Summer Preserving Series at Serenbe in Atlanta and Nashville. Each class in the series features both a seasonal fruit preserve and a pickle or relish.

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget.

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CSA Cooking: Shredded Everything Salad

shredded salad

I have a problem with produce management. A big part of the issue is that when confronted by a lovely array of fresh vegetables at a farmers market, I forget entirely what it is I already have at home and fill my totes with more delicious things. Add an occasional CSA share to the situation and it’s madness.

Happily, I have a relatively simple solution for the overabundance. A giant shredded salad. The genius is two-fold. First, it takes all the difficulty out of eating a giant homemade salad because the bulk of the prep work is already done. Second, it keeps for about a week, so you can make a truly giant batch and eat it for days.

You start by pulling out all the sturdy vegetables you have in your fridge. In the case of this recent batch, that included radishes*, small white turnips*, sugar snap peas, fennel, green onions, cucumber, and cabbage (other good additions include green beans, golden beets, red and green peppers, carrots, celery, and asparagus).

shredded salad for dinner

Once you have a nice selection of veg, start chopping. You can use a food processor fitted with a slicing or shredding blade, but I find that a sharp knife and one of these inexpensive handheld slicers is all the gear I need for something like this. Your only goal is to cut the vegetables thinly and in relatively similarly sized pieces.

I tend to keep the finished salad in a big ziptop bag, so that I can squeeze the air out after portioning out a serving, but a big bowl with a tight-fitting lid also works. We eat it heaped on top of greens if they’re handy, or tossed with feta, cooked farro, and a drizzle of vinaigrette.

If Scott needs something to take to work for lunch, I make a simple batch of tuna salad and pack it on top of a bowl of this shredded salad. When he’s ready to eat, he stirs the tuna into the vegetables and it serves as both protein and a dressing of sorts. When in need of a potluck or picnic contribution, I dress it the same way I would cole slaw and it is good.

*Both from my June Philly Foodworks share.

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Giveaway: Chalk Tops from Masontops

chalk top boxes

One of the reasons that so many of us love canning jars is that they are so versatile. Sure, you can in them (and goodness knows, I certainly do). They’re also great to use as drinking glasses (during the summer, I try to drink at least three quarts of water a day and use a big green jar to help me keep track), as containers for leftovers, and to store grains, beans, and other pantry staples.

chalk tops on jars

As more people turn to canning jars for all sorts of tasks, more companies have sprung up to make the experience even better. One such business is Masontops. They started with a small line of products to make it easier to ferment in jars (their pickle pebbles and the pickle jar packing tool are both so smart, sturdy, and useful).

Recently, they added another product to their line. Called Chalk Tops, these storage (not canning) lids seal tightly with a conventional ring and can be written on again and again. I realize that many of you have made similar products by covering lids with chalk board paint, but I’ve found that those almost always end up with a dry finish that feels terrible to the touch. The lids made by Masontops are smooth, easy to write on, and erase cleanly.

chalk top boxes offset

This week, Masontops is offering up three sets of their Chalk Top combo packs for giveaway. Each set includes 8 regular mouth and 8 wide mouth Chalk Tops. They’ve also created a discount code for Food in Jars readers to use on their Amazon store. Use the code “FDINJARS” on an order of Chalk Tops, Pickle Pebbles, or the Pickle Packer and get 10% off your order.

Here’s how to enter the Chalk Top giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you use your mason jars. If all you do is can in them, that okay. But if you use them to hold your dish soap, pantry goods, leftovers, or morning coffee, I want to hear about it.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 4, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 5, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The Masontops folks send me a collection of their products for photography purposes. They did not provide any additional compensation for this post and all opinions expressed here are my own.