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Stocking Stuffers for Canners and Jar Lovers

piles of lids

I realize that it’s getting down to the wire for these gift guides, but I’ve been meaning to pull together a list of jar toppers, accessories, cozies, and other pieces of jar related gear and this seems like an opportune time to do it. Of course you can order these online (and links are provided), but if you need these by December 25, check out your local co-op markets and kitchen stores.

iLids and BNTOS

Lids, Adaptors, and Drink Toppers

  1. Cuppow & BNTO – One of the first makers of mason jar add-ons, they make the classic Cuppow drink lid and the BNTO jar adaptor. Simple and useful.
  2. EcoJarz – They make stainless steel and silicone drink toppers, as well as a lid with a larger hold that can be sealed with a silicone pop-top.
  3. iLids – They make drink lids and storage lids. Their drink lids are a single piece that screw on to the jars, which is a departure from the Cuppow and EcoJarz designs.
  4. Tulid – These leakproof lids have an internal silicone seal that can be removed for cleaning. If you have someone in your life who often takes leftovers to work in pint jars, these lids would significantly improve their quality of life.
  5. Blossom uCaps – These one-piece silicone lids snap onto regular and wide mouth jars. They come three flavors: a flower frog, a sipping cap, and a storage lid.
  6. reCAP – They make leakproof pour lids (so good for stuff like maple syrup and teriyaki sauce), as well as a spray bottle lid and a pump dispenser that fit mason jars. They’ll also be bringing their Flip Cap to market sometime next year.
  7. Nuby Silicone Sippy Cup – Transform regular mouth jars into sippy cups. I gave one of these to my sister and she uses it all the time for my nephew.
  8. Mason Tap – This lid attaches to a regular mouth jar with a conventional lid and allows you to dispense syrups, sesame seeds, and other messy or drippy things.
  9. The Mason Bar Company – They make flat plastic lids for straws and jar cuffs made from either leather or vinyl.
  10. Classic Flower Frog – I picked one of these up at a junk store many years ago, but you can get reproductions easily enough.
  11. Sprouting Lid – Make your own sprouts in a wide mouth mason!

camano coffee grinder

Appliances and Tools

  1. Progressive International – They have a Mason Jar series of tools that are packaged on shatterproof jars, but will also fit wide mouth canning jars. There’s a dressing emulsifier, a nut chopper, and a citrus juicer.
  2. EcoJarz – In addition to their line of drink toppers, EcoJarz also makes a bunch of tools that fit in or onto a jar. They’ve got a grater/slicer pair, a shaker whisk ball, and the DOSE pour over coffee system.
  3. Mason Shaker – Turn your regular mouth mason into a cocktail shaker.
  4. Mason Jar Coffee Grinder – If you’re seriously coffee dependent, it’s not the quickest road to coffee, but the form factor is highly appealing.
  5. Kraut Source – They’re still working to fulfill their Kickstarter incentives, but you can enter your email address on their website to get an email when this mason jar fermentation press will be available for general purchase.
  6. Pour Mason – A pour over funnel that fits onto wide mouth mason jars.
  7. Fermentools – Fermenting air locks and glass weights designed to fit wide mouth masons.
  8. Ball Canning Spice Shakers – Ball has started making a bunch of jar add-ons in recent years, but for my money, these spice shakers are some of the most useful.

mason-ry koozie

Cozies

  1. Koverz – Neoprene sleeves for 12 and 24 ounce jars. Keep your iced coffee cool!
  2. Holdster – Slick leather sleeves for wide mouth pints. Perfect for the hipster coffee lover in your life.
  3. Eco Sleeve Silicone Sleeve – These were originally designed to work with disposable drink cups, but fit mason jars nicely. They’ve been discontinued, but The Pint & a Half shop has all the remaining inventory, if you like the form factor.
  4. Mason-re Silicone Koozie – A molded silicone sleeve for the modern wide mouth pint jar (they don’t fit the older, squatter wide mouths). Right now, only the black sleeve is in stock, but I hear they’ll have more soon (with and without the embossed logo).
  5. Jar-Z – Similar to beer/soda can koozies, but designed to fit mason jars.

basket of lids
Other Stuff

  1. Taper hooks – Turn your regular mouth quarts into lanterns.
  2. Chicken Waterer – An oldie, but a goodie.
  3. Solar Powered Lights – The fit on top of your jars and help you light up the night.

Which one would you like to see in your stocking this year?

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Ginger Spice Delights from Holiday Cookies

Holiday Cookies cover

I have not done a lot of baking for gift giving this season. The sum total of my holiday output has been the caramel popcorn I wrote about last week, a batch of this burnt sugar toffee, and these ginger spice cookies. I picked up two pounds of pecans yesterday that are destined for brittle, and then I’m declaring myself done.

mixing cookie dough

Of course, I could always cost along on my stash of jams and chutneys for holiday giving without making a single additional thing, but it feels somehow more complete to offer a small sweet treat alongside a jar or two.

Holiday Cookies spine

The popcorn, toffee, and brittle are all long time favorites, but these ginger cookies are a new addition to the holiday rotation. The recipe is from Holiday Cookies, a book that rounds up the top recipes from the last three decades of the Chicago Tribune’s annual cookie contest.

finished ginger cookies

There are a number of sugar cookies, shortbreads, and chocolate confections, but this recipe for Ginger Spice Delights spoke to me most. They are made with oat flour, whole wheat flour, applesauce (preserves in action!), and a minimal amount of sugar. I do like a slightly virtuous cookie, particularly one that is spiced with plenty of ginger and orange zest.

I will say, they aren’t the most beautiful cookie, but they do go so nicely with a mug of tea (and if you need to sweeten them up, a dollop of jam would do the job nicely).

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Giveaway: New West Knife Works Paring Knife

NewWest vertical

It used to be that when I traveled for the holidays, I would always take care to pack a sharp knife or two into my checked luggage. No matter where I was spending Christmas, I knew I’d end up doing some cooking and would inevitably be frustrated by their array of slicers and choppers.

Thankfully, I don’t have to chance my favorite knives to the whims of TSA anymore, because a few years back, I started a personal campaign to improve the situation in my parents’ and sister’s kitchens. That way, when I go to visit them, I don’t end up moved to tears by the state of their cutlery.

NewWest paring knife

If you find yourself in similar straits when traveling to visit family, consider doing your part to improve the state of their knife drawer. If they’ve got good knives gone dull, a simple sharpener like this one will help save your sanity.

If their knives are just plain lousy, consider giving them one well-made knife. You’ll save your own sanity and take care of the gift list in a single swoop.

NewWest handle

One such maker of beautiful, present-appropriate knives is New West Knife Works. Their blades are light, strong, and hold and edge. The Fusionwood handles are lovely to look at and to hold (do know that the factory that made their handles burnt down earlier this year, so if you like the looks of the Fusionwood, make sure to get one soon as inventory is low).

Because it’s the holiday season, I have one Fusionwood paring knife to give away to one of my readers. This is the last giveaway of 2014, and I’m so happy to be able to offer such a good one! Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite holiday and/or end of year tradition. Do you make the same cookie each year? Do the latkes get cooked in the same pan? Is there a solstice ceremony you particularly love? Do you gather with the same people to watch football on New Year’s Day?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, December 20, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, December 21, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: New West Knife Works is the sponsor of this giveaway and they have provided two paring knives. One for me for photography purposes and another for the winner. Additionally, they are currently a Food in Jars sponsor. However, all opinions expressed in this post remain entirely mine. 

One last thing! The folks at New West Knife Works have a sister brand called MTN Man Toy Shop. If you are still looking for the perfect gift for the mountain man in your life, it’s worth a gander.

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Pickled Cranberries for Ball’s 25 Days of Making and Giving

pickled cranberries pint

I am a devoted to the belief that when it comes to holiday giving, a homemade gift (preferably edible), is best. I come by this attitude honestly, as my parents have a tradition of pairing my mother’s homemade jams with quart jars of my dad’s famous pancake mix to share with their friends, family, and neighbors.

I’ve been filling little flat rate boxes to send off some of my favorite far-flung people, and when my local family gathers on Saturday for our annual Hanukkah party, I’ll be carrying a sturdy crate full of jams and pickles so that everyone can pick their favorite.

pickled cranberries pint horizontal

This year, I’ve teamed up with Ball Canning to share a seasonal recipe as part of their 25 Days of Making and Giving campaign. All across the internet, bloggers have been posting their favorite gift in a jar creation to help inspire your handmade holiday. For my part, I’ve decided to share an updated and improved version of my pickled cranberries.

I initially wrote a recipe for pickled cranberries back in the days when I was writing about pickles for Serious Eats. However, I’ve found that the yield wasn’t perfectly consistent and readers sometimes struggled to find some of the ingredients I called for. This new and improved version makes exactly 4 pints of preserves (which you can either can in pint jars, or spread across half pints, for an increased gifting yield) and uses things you should be able to get at the grocery store or local spice shop.

pickled cranberries

The finished pickle is a lovely thing to serve alongside roast meat or with a cheese plate, and if you’re going to pack it up in a box to ship across country, I highly suggest that you include a note telling the recipient to stir the liquid into sparkling water or a gin and tonic.

Win Canning Supplies during Ball Canning’s 25 Days of Making and Giving

This recipe is part of Ball Canning’s 25 Days of Making and Giving—each day throughout December, Ball will be sharing a new gift-in-a-jar recipe or tutorial designed for holiday giving Make sure to check back each day throughout the month for a new, fun way to handcraft your holiday gifts. You can also follow Ball Canning on Facebook or Pinterest to stay on top of the daily posts!

During the 25 Days of Making and Giving, Ball is giving away daily prizes to those who enter on the contest website (you can enter every day)! Each daily entry is also included in the grand prize drawing for a FreshTech Automatic Canning System.

Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Ball Canning. However, all the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

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Links: Bourbon, Linzer Bars, and Winners

I've got three different ferments going on in this lunch!

Every Sunday night, I sit down to write up these links and marvel at the fact that a whole week has passed. The pace at which time passes leaves me absolutely dizzy. This weekend flew by in a whirl of grocery shopping, holiday errands, and Ikea trips (my mother-in-law moved to an apartment just 15 minutes away from us last week and as it goes with any move, she needed things to make the new space work for her). It was close to 8 pm when we returned home from assembling her new furniture. Never in my life have I been more grateful for take-out burritos. Now, links!

to go jar stack

The winners in last week’s ToGoJars giveaway are:

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The 2014 Class of Preserving and DIY Books

stack of 2014 preserving books high res

A couple weeks ago, I gave away a short stack of preserving books and promised that I’d be back soon with a more comprehensive list of this year’s canning, pickling, and DIY books. Today is the day for that post and as I went through my bookshelves to pull the various volumes, I was reminded that this has been an incredible year for books in this category.

This year’s list features 20 books, some of which I’ve written about previously and others that haven’t gotten any blog love as of yet. Some I bought, and some came to me as review copies (and honestly, at this point I really don’t remember which is which). For each book, you’ll see that I link to both Amazon and Powell’s (because my liberal guilt is such that I can’t only offer a corporate behemoth option). The Amazon links are affiliate ones, the Powell’s links are not.

2014 preserving books 1

  • On the top of the stack is Hugh Acheson’s funny little book, Pick a Pickle. The recipes are good and interesting, the instructions for sealing jars are not (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Next up is Leda Meredith’s book Preserving Everything. Leda is a wild edibles expert and has created an exceptionally comprehensive book that offers instruction on canning, fermenting, pickling, freezing, and more. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • The Put ‘em Up! Preserving Answer Book came out this spring and is final volume in Sherri Brooks Vinton’s excellent canning trilogy. It has a tremendous amount of detail and would make an excellent gift for a nervous new canner.(Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Quench, Ashley English’s seventh book, came out this fall and opened up a new world of homemade beverage possibilities. It runs the spectrum of soft and hard drinks, and includes a guest recipe from me!(Amazon | Powell’s)
  • If you were to judge a book by it’s cover, you might skip Andrea Weigl’s Pickles & Preserves (at first glance, it seems like a quiet little book). However, that would be a mistake. This slim volume contains fifty classic Southern preserves and should be in every canner’s collection. (Amazon | Powell’s)

2014 preserving books 2

2014 preserving books 3

  • I learned to make shrubs thanks to Michael Dietsch’s 2011 Serious Eats piece on the topic. As far as I’m concerned, he was one of the primary instigators of this trend and knows more about the world of delicious vinegar-spiked syrups than anyone out there. I’ve been eagerly awaiting his book, Shrubs, since hearing he was working on it and am so delighted to have it in hand. It does not disappoint! (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • My sister started drinking kombucha a decade ago. She’d offer me sips and I’d decline with a shudder. However, over the years, I’ve gone from a kombucha hater to someone who makes batches of it at home on a weekly basis. Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman has been a most helpful addition to my brewing flow. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Fresh & Fermented by Julie O’Brien and Richard Climenhage is another book that strives to help you go beyond simply making fermented foods to incorporating them into all manner of recipes. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Kirsten and Christopher Shockey’s Fermented Vegetables is such a great guide to home fermenting. I love the step-by-step pictures, coupled with stories from their lives. The best pickle I made this summer (brined dilly beans!) came from this book. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Asian Pickles is the ideal book for anyone who wants to start expanding their pickle repertory. Written by Karen Solomon, this book wraps its arms around whole continents worth of pickles. (Amazon | Powell’s)

2014 preserving books 4

  • Ivy Manning’s Better from Scratch is a book that hasn’t gotten nearly enough love this year. It contains sweet preserves, savory salsas, a few cured proteins, crackers, and more. It’s a good gift for DIY dabblers who don’t want a single-subject book. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Arranged by month, The Farmer’s Kitchen Handbook by Marie W. Lawrence is bursting with recipes that will help you put up and use up the bounty of the season. Just know that if you need your cookbook to have lots of full page photography, this one isn’t a good fit for you. There are lots of images, but they’re thumbnails. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther isn’t solely devoted to pantry staples, but it has a lovely chapter towards the back called “From the Larder” that includes a terrific selection of pickles, relishes, and preserves that is worth the cost of admission. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • I can’t say enough good things about Cathy Barrow’s long-anticipated book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry. It is THE book for people who want to do a deep, thorough dive into building a from-scratch pantry. (Amazon | Powell’s)
  • Finally, Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade by Rachel Saunders. A meticulous preserver and writer, Rachel has written the definitive book for people who stare at their pantry and wonder, “what else can I do with this besides smear it on toast.” A must-own for an avid canner. (Amazon | Powell’s)
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