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Online Canning Tools and Tidbits from Ball Canning

Interactive Canning Map June

This summer, I’m partnering the lovely folks at Ball Canning, to help spread the word about their new tools and products. Today, I want to take a moment to zero in on the online tools they’ve released this season, all designed to help inspire you to gather some produce and pull down your canning pot.

First up is their recently launched Tumblr, called Freshly Preserved Ideas. This page is bursting with ideas, recipes, and hypnotic gifs (truly. I’ve watched this one loop at least a dozen times). You’ll find introductions to the team of Fresh Preservers as well as the new recipes for summer preserves that we’ve all been tasked to dream up (the first of my recipes is Blackberry Lavender Jam).

Another fun tool is the Interactive Canning Map (that’s what’s pictured at the top of the page). It shows the various regions of the country and what’s currently in season in those areas. Clicking on the various images of fruits and vegetables will take you to preserving recipes that utilize those ingredients.

And just today, Jarden Home Brands (parent company of Ball Canning) released survey results in which they found that 40% of gardeners plan to preserve half or more of the food they grow this season and 44% freeze it for later use. A whopping 77% of gardeners have canned, frozen or dehydrated foods to preserve them, and 33% of those preserving gardeners are millennials.

Here’s hoping you all find some of those tools useful!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. My partnership with Ball Canning is a paid one. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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Lightly Pickled Sweet Cherries

Lightly pickled sweet cherries in jars

Sour cherries are one of my very favorite things to preserve. Sadly, thanks to a late freeze back in April, it is proving to be a very bad year for stonefruit in the Philadelphia region. Sour cherries are proving to be very hard to come by.

two and a half pounds of sweet cherries in a colander

Instead of bemoaning the 2016 sour cherry situation (though I must confess, I was able to get some from my friends’ community garden, so I’m not totally without them this year), I decided to take some of the sweet cherries from the Northwest Cherries shipment, and do what I could to give them a flavor profile similar to that of a sour cherry.

quartered cherries in the sink

I measured out two and a half pounds of the sweet cherries and using my trusty paring knife, cut them in quarters and wiggled out the pits (I don’t like using cherry pitters, because I resent how much cherry flesh you lose with every pit. Quartering them is fiddly work, but so much more of the fruit ends up in the pot).

lightly pickled sweet cherries in a stainless pot

Once the cherries were prepped, I combined them with sugar, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice and let them sit until all the sugar was dissolved. Then I set the pot on the stove, brought it to a boil, and cooked the fruit until the cherries were tender (but not falling apart) and the liquid had thickened slightly.

Lightly pickled sweet cherries in jars close-up

Towards the end of cooking, I took a tiny taste of the syrup in the pot and was so happy with the results. Bright, sweet, and just tart enough that you feel a pleasant shiver in the back of your throat. This is one for sparkling water, paring with cheese, or eating with a pork chop.

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Sponsored Post: Durable Mesh Produce Bags from the MightyFix

Five mesh produce bags and MightyFix info cards

Years ago, I went through a stage where I was seriously gung-ho about going green. I bought an indoor composter, replaced my sparkling water habit with a SodaStream, and got a few sets mesh produce bags to replace the plastic ones I always picked up at the grocery store.

Five mesh produce bags fanned out

Trying to make compost in my living room was a disaster and I use my SodaStream imperfectly (like so many others, I have something of a LaCroix addiction). But the mesh produce bag habit stuck. I keep them by my front door and grab a few any time I know a stop at the grocery store or farmers market is in my future.

MightyFix produce bags in use

Our friends at MightyNest want to help you get your reusable produce bag habit started and so are offering a MightyFix deal for all new subscribers. The first month (which normally costs $10) will cost you just $3 instead. That means that if you sign up for MightyFix today, you’ll pay just $3 for the first month and you’ll receive a set of 5 reusable produce bags as your first FIX. As those same bags normally cost $11 + $5.95 in shipping, it’s a pretty darn good deal.

Mesh produce bags hanging with produce

If you’ve missed my earlier posts about the MightyFix, it’s a monthly subscription service that sends full sized non-toxic products for the kitchen and home. It costs $10 a month and ships for free. What’s more, anything you want to add to your monthly order from MightyNest will also ship for free.

MightyFix Button

So, to recap. If you’re new to the FIX and you’re ready to hop on board, use this link to head over to MightyNest (it’s got the discount code already applied). If that link gives you trouble, use the code FIJPRODUCEFIX at check out instead.

You’ll get these mesh produce bags as your first FIX when they sign up for the subscription service. The cost of the FIX is $10 a month and the products are always valued more than $10. Your first month is $3 and you’ll get a set of five mesh produce bags valued at $11 + $5.95 in shipping. You just can’t beat it.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. MightyNest is a regular Food in Jars partner and occasional sponsor. They sent me the produce bags pictured here. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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Cookbooks: Batch

The cover of Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

I think of myself as minor expert on canning and preserving books. In addition to having written three of my own, I have a working familiarity with nearly everything that’s out there and so whenever I’m asked to recommend books for specific purpose, I flip through my mental file and offer up a few options.

The spine of Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

Need help with small batch fermenting? Amanda Feifer’s Ferment Your Vegetables is the best option. Looking for thoughtful recipes with a modern, Southern twist? Kevin West’s Saving the Season is for you. Domenica Marchetti’s Preserving Italy will help you recreate your Italian grandmother’s pantry. And Karen Solomon’s Asian Pickles is brilliant and self explanatory.

The waterbath preserving spread in the cookbook Batch

I’ve also found myself suggesting Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s new book Batch a great deal lately (if their names sound familiar, it’s because they are the bloggers behind the website Well Preserved).

This book is essential for anyone who wants a huge, exuberant, smart, gorgeously designed, and vibrantly photographed book that deals with seven styles of food preservation, offers recipes for using the food you’ve preserved, and helps you make the very most out of every scrap of food you grow, buy, and forage.

The introduction to the fermenting section of the cookbook Batch

I particularly like how they’ve structured this volume. The first quarter of Batch is designed to help you build the skills you’ll need in the balance of the book. It’s here that you’ll learn about waterbath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting & smoking, and infusing. Joel wrote the bulk of the book’s text and his writing telegraphs calm knowledge and reliable expertise.

The introduction to the Peppers chapter of the cookbook Batch

The remainder of the book is organized around 25 ingredients, laid out in alphabetical order. Starting with apples and ending with tomatoes, each ingredient chapter helps you make the very most of seasonal produce with recipes to preserve, store, and consume.

A page featuring Batch-It recipes in the cookbook Batch

One of the brilliant elements in this book is the Batch-It approach. The recipes are grouped so that it becomes easy to make two or three things in concert with one another rather the traditional approach that silos each project. I find that having read my way through this book, I now am constantly thinking about how I can couple my preserving activities.

Falafel lettuce wraps in the cookbook Batch

Another thing that makes this book so uniquely useful is the way in which the recipes for using the preserves are nested into the ingredient sections. Some put the preserve to work as an active ingredient and others demonstrate how a side of sauce or chutney can easily enhance a simple plate.

Back cover the cookbook Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

Along with being a reliable and useful resource, Batch is a pleasure to glance through. Dana is an artist and designer, and both her creative eye and her work are found throughout Batch’s pages. Every time I open it, some new element catches my eye.

If you’re an avid canner and you’ve not added it to your bookshelf yet, I highly encourage you to add it to your wish lists and shopping carts!

Disclosure: I bought the copy of Batch you see pictured above. I count Joel and Dana among my friends, but the opinions offered here are offered on the basis of their exceptional book, not our friendship.

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Opinel Bread and Jam Set Giveaway

Opinel bread knife, peeler, and spreading tool.

Years ago, I picked up a little folding Opinel knife at some long-forgotten kitchenwares store. I bought it on a whim (driven by a romantic vision of lazy summer picnics), but unlike many spur-of-the-moment buys, this little knife has proved its worth many times over.

A seeded baguette, being sliced by an Opinel bread knife.

In reality, that knife hasn’t been on a great number of leisurely picnics. Instead, it’s been in the food bag for nearly every day-long adventure and road trip we’ve taken over the past five or so years. It has been pressed into service in under-equipped kitchens, has helped divvy sandwiches at rest stops, and has played a role in many an impromptu foraging expedition.

A seeded baguette, a butter dish, a jar of jam, and various Opinel tools.

So, when the nice PR rep for Opinel got in touch a couple months ago to ask if I might like to try some of their other products, I sent off a hasty yes. We settled on a little trio of useful tools to feature here. And so, for the last month, I’ve been using their sturdy bread knife, a sweet little spreading knife, and a quick, super sharp peeler.

A butter dish, an Opinel spreader, and bread with jam.

Much like the folding knife that has been such a workhorse, the knife, spreader, and peeler are simple, well-made, and incredibly useful tools. What’s more, if you’re visiting friends this summer, paired with a jar of jam, the spreader or the butter knife would make a really nice hostess gift.

Opinel bread knife, peeler, and spreading tool in their packaging.

Thanks to the nice folks at Opinel, I have a the blue-handled set of bread knife, spreader, and peeler to give away to one lucky Food in Jars reader. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite impulse buy.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 25, 2016. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 26, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Opinel sent me the tools you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and has also providing the giveaway units. The tools were provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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Upcoming Events: Omega Institute! Cornwall Public Library! Valley Variety!

farmers market cabbages

Happy summer, friends! I hope you all had good weekends, bursting with good food and father’s day celebrations. I’m dropping in this morning with a quick reminder of some of my upcoming events. I head to the Hudson Valley on Friday morning and I’ll be in the area through the holiday weekend for a family wedding. As is my habit, I’m combining vacation with a workshop, a library event, and a hands-on class.

Tuesday, June 21 (Maywood, NJ)
I’m headed up to the Maywood Public Library in Maywood, NJ for a free canning demo and book signing. I’ll be making a small batch of Strawberry Cocoa Jam and will answer all your burning canning questions. The demo starts at 7 pm and will last about an hour. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 (Rhinebeck, NY)
This is my weekend-long canning workshop at the Omega Institute. We’ll make 10-12 preserves and will dive deep into the minutia of food preservation. There are actually a few spots still available in the workshop and we welcome last-minute registrations. Details and registration information here.

Tuesday, June 28 (Cornwall, NY)
I’ll be at the Cornwall Public Library in Cornwall, NY for a canning demo and book signing. The demo starts at 6:30 pm and the program will last about an hour. Afterwards, I’ll have copies of all three of my books available for sale and, as always, I’ll be delighted to sign them.

Wednesday, June 29 (Hudson, NY)
Two years ago I taught a workshop at Valley Variety in Hudson, and I liked it so much that we’re doing it again! This time, we’ll be making two recipes from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars (Vanilla Peach Jam and Tomato Chutney) and digging in the details of preserving with natural sweeteners. I’m also bringing an assortment of preserves from my pantry, that shop owner Chuck will pair with cheese and wine. The class is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm and costs $50 per person. Register here.

For my complete calendar, click here. 

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