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Strawberry Meyer Lemon Jam

This weekend, cook up a small batch of strawberry jam. I use Meyer lemons here, but any flavor enhancer is welcome!

Earlier this week, I hosted an hour-long Facebook livestream on the topic of jam making. I used a small batch of Strawberry Meyer Lemon Jam to demonstrate the no-additional-pectin approach.

I started with just two pounds of berries, used a scant two cups of sugar and flavored the whole thing with the zest and juice from two Meyer lemons. When the jam was finished cooking, the yield was two pints (you may be sensing a theme here). I canned up the finished jam in these cute half pint Anchor Hocking jars I got from Fillmore Container.

If you find yourself in possession of a couple of pounds of berries this weekend (there’s no shame in using a clamshell from the grocery store), consider making something similar. Oh, and if you can’t get Meyer lemons, try flavoring the jam with vanilla bean paste, grated ginger, a splash of balsamic vinegar, or even the juice and zest from some regular lemons or limes.

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Jam Making for the June Mastery Challenge

Hello Mastery Challenge participants! June is passing with alarming speed and so it’s well past time for this monthly introductory blog post. This time, we’re focusing on jam making, which is probably going to be one of the most familiar skills we dig into this year. After all, the majority of canners start their food preservation career with a batch of jam.

What is Jam?

For our purposes, we’re going to define jam as a fruit-based preserve that is sweetened. Sugar is the most traditional sweetener, but you can also use honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrates, or non-sugar sweeteners (just remember that jam made without any true sugar will not hold its color or quality for long). And, if you’re curious about making jam with these alternative sweeteners, make sure to check out my book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars!

What Style of Jam to Make?

There are no rules as to the style of jam you make. You can go large batch or small, conventionally sweetened or low sugar, added pectin or pectin free, and sweet or savory. If there’s a style you’ve been wanting to try and you’ve thus far avoided it in your preserving life, consider taking it for a spin.

The Recipes

There are more jam recipes in the archives of this site than I have time to count and there are yet still more in my cookbooks. Beyond that, there are hundreds of jam recipes online and in the many canning cookbooks out there. However, you really don’t need a recipe to make jam. Prep some fruit. Measure out approximately half as much sugar. Combine them until the sugar dissolves. Add a little lemon juice and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla paste. Cook it in a low, wide pan until it thickens.

However, if you want to work with a more proper recipe, here are some of my recent favorites.

This month, the deadline for submitting your projects to be counted in the monthly tally is Wednesday, June 28. I’ll have the form up next week for submissions. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #fijchallenge if you post your project to social media!

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May Mastery Challenge Round-Up: Cold Pack Preserving

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The May cold pack challenge is over and it’s time to round-up our results. This challenge wasn’t as popular as those in past months, which I sort of expected. Cold pack preserving isn’t as exciting as some of the other skills we’ve tackled, and for lots of you, it was hard to find good seasonal produce which was appropriate for cold packing. Perhaps it wasn’t the best choice for May. Live and learn!

This month, just 92 people submitted their finished projects. Asparagus was the most popular ingredient to cold pack (which is appropriate since it was in season in many parts of the country in May). Other popular varieties of produce last month were Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, green beans, jalapeños, okra, red onion, and tomatoes.

From the data that you all reported this month, it looks like most of you weren’t moved to make more than one batch. However, from the optional comments, it sounds like a lot of you are looking forward to trying out this skill later in the season when there’s more that’s appropriate for cold packing.

One thing that I found interesting was that many of the participants felt mixed towards cold packing at the start of the challenge. Which I get. It’s not one of the sexier food preservation skills.

Happily, those of you who tried it seemed to shift to the more positive end of the spectrum by the end of the month. Which is always what I’m hoping for!

Here’s hoping that the June jam challenge will appeal to a larger swath of folks and that our participation numbers will be back up in the next month!

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Veg

Fruit

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June Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, Mason Jar Lifestyle, CanningCrafts, and Mrs. Wages

Happy June, friends and readers! It’s the start of the month and so is time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them your appreciation for their support with your time and attention!  And if your company, shop, or family business is interested reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

In the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creators 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. I love pairing their straw-ready drink lid with a 24 ounce mason jar for the perfect summer iced coffee vessel.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. As always, their blog is an amazing resource for all things jar-related. Sign up for the salsa class I’m teaching in their space on August 19!

Our friends over at EcoJarz on board again this month. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graters, coffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. Make sure to follow them on social, because they host a weekly EcoJarz Fan Pic of the Week giveaway!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lids, straws, sprouting lids, and cozies to transform your mason jars into travel mugs, make sure to check them out!

Back after a few months away is CanningCrafts. Shop owner Alison sells an array of ready made and custom mason jar labels for all your various preserves, syrups, and backyard honey. I particularly love her line of labels encouraging people to return the jar! When next you need labels for a special project, check out CanningCrafts.

Our friends at Mrs. Wages are on the roster again this month. They make 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. If you need a little help getting your produce into jars, remember to seek out their products!

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Tartine All Day Jam Bars

From the very first moment I picked up Tartine All Day, I liked it a whole lot. My initial flip was at my local cookbook shop and after just a moment or two with the book, I raised my head and said to the owner, Jill, “I want to make everything in this book.” Were I an emoji, I would have been the one with hearts for eyes.

The thing that speaks to me so much in this book is that it is offers both easy, everyday things you can make with the things already in your fridge, along with the fun project cooking you might trot out on a unscheduled Sunday. Plus, there are a handful of approachable recipes for jams and pickles. Author Elisabeth Prueitt seems to really understand how many of us cook.

For those of you who pay attention to the world of cookbooks (or live in the San Francisco Bay Area), you will have heard of Tartine. It’s a cafe-turned-brand that has spawned multiple books, locations, and much frenzy among the food-loving set. However, unlike previous volumes, this book isn’t about recreating restaurant food. It’s about the cooking we do at home.

Because I knew that this was a book I wanted to write about, I reached out to the PR folks handling its publicity. They sent me a review copy and gave me permission to share a recipe from the book. I made a few suggestions and together we settled on the Jam Bars. Because a another method for using up jam is always (ALWAYS!) welcome.

This recipe functions in the same way most other jam bars do. You make a simple, crumbly dough, press about two-thirds into the bottom of the pan, spread it generously with jam and then scatter the remaining bits on top.

However, the beauty of this particular jam bar is in the details. Elisabeth offers gram measurements along with the cups, so you can plunk your bowl down on a scale and heap in your ingredients without dirtying lots of measuring cups. The dough is built in a single bowl. And she uses a combination of vanilla and almond extracts to flavor the base, which is somehow so much more delicious than a jam bar with just vanilla.

Another clever element is that she has you mix up the jam with some lemon juice and salt. This helps temper the sweetness of the finished cookie, and also helped thin out the jar of slightly overset jam I used nicely.

I’ll confess that I didn’t follow the directions perfectly. I used cashew butter rather than almond, because I have a jar I’ve been endeavoring to use up. And I somehow I managed to top the jam with an even layer of cookie dough, rather than scattering it prettily (it was just before dinner and I was hungry). But even with that small substitution and smaller error, they are still quite delicious (they’ll be going with me to a picnic tomorrow, so that I don’t end up eating them all).

If you feel moved to make a batch of Jam Bars from Tartine All Day, the recipe is below.
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Beeswax Food Wraps from Kentucky Home

This post is sponsored by Kentucky Home (makers of those nifty MasonToGo lids!). To learn more about their new beeswax food wraps, read on!

I started using beeswax food wraps four or five years ago in an attempt to give up my plastic wrap and plastic baggie habit. I was already solidly on the reusable container and jar bandwagon, but hadn’t quite figured out to store food that functioned best when wrapped or swaddled.

When I discovered the beeswax food wraps, I thought my food storage prayers were answered. And while I’ve happily used them from various brands and makers for years, I’ve always struggled a bit with their cost (they can be pricy, particularly if you’re paying for shipping!). That has led to me running a funny mental calculation whenever I’m putting away leftovers or packing food for the road.

I find myself questioning whether the item is worthy of one of my beeswax food wraps. If the item fails to pass muster, I find myself rooting around in the cabinet under the sink for a plastic produce bag to reuse or I pull down the roll of plastic wrap that I’ve been nursing for half a decade. However, thanks to the folks over at Kentucky Home, my beeswax food wrap equation has changed.

Earlier this week, they started selling beeswax food wraps in bundles affordable enough to allow me to simply use them without feeling like I should be saving them for good. Best of all, they’re made right there in Leitchfield, Kentucky by retired farmer Mr. Dale.

So, now that I’m no longer encumbered by worries over cost, how am I using beeswax food wraps? To cover bowls and dishes. While I have plenty of food storage containers with lids, sometimes I just want to throw the leftover grain salad into the fridge in the bowl in which it was made. You just form the wrap around the bowl and then press your hands into it for a moment to soft the wax enough to hold its shape (if you suffer from perpetually cold hands like I do, run them under warm water for a moment to help make the wax behave).

I also now feel free to use them to cover dishes bound for potlucks and other gatherings. While each time I hope that I’ll go home with the wrap I brought, if it does wind up in the trash at the end of the night, I don’t feel the same compulsion to dig for it.

They’re also great to cover cut pieces of fruits and vegetables. Lemon halves, partially eaten avocados, and half-used cucumbers have never looked better or stored more sustainably. If you’re working with a new beeswax food wrap, give it a good crinkling to help work the wax into the fabric and make the surface a little tackier. Then, to keep these bundled bits of produce neatly sealed, give the ends a firm twist and they’ll stay in place for days.

Another way that I like to use beeswax food wraps in to cover sandwiches and snacks that I’m packing for later. One of my errand running tricks is to go first thing in the morning so that the day doesn’t get away from me. When I tackle my to-do list like that, I like to pack a little peanut butter and jam sandwich to bring with me, rather than spend time eating breakfast at home (I’ll also bring a reusable coffee mug so that I can treat myself to a fancy cup without incurring the guilt of a disposable).

Another thing that beeswax food wraps do well is swaddle bread. Whenever I’m deep in a home baking phase, I find myself with needing something to keep my loaves from getting stale. I find that these wraps do a lovely job of keeping a homemade loaf of sourdough fresh for the time it takes us to eat our way through it.

Cleaning the wraps is also a breeze. Just use a little gentle soap and lukewarm water (no super hot water or you’ll start to melt away the wax). Oh, and keep them away from things like raw meat and poultry. When the wraps finally wear out (which they do after about a year of heavy use), they can be composted.

You can buy these affordable beeswax food wraps from Kentucky Home in two different configurations. A 12 pack of 7″ x 7″ wraps (perfect for wrapping up bits of cheese, half sandwiches, and halves of lemons, limes, avocados, apples and more) is just $19.97.

For those of you who want more options in the sizes of your beeswax food wraps, the 7 piece variety pack is your best bet. It comes with one 29″ x 29″ wrap, two 15″ x 15″ wraps, and four 7″ x 7″ wraps.

If you try them, make sure to check back in and share the creative ways you’re using them in your home!

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