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May Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, McDonald Paper, Mason Jar Lifestyle, and CanningCrafts

Happy May, dear readers! It’s the start of the month and that means that it’s time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention!  

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. There’s nothing better for iced coffee season (it’s finally here!) than a Pint & Half jar with a wide mouth Cuppow.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. They’ve got all those gorgeous Amber Ball jars in stock, if you’ve been looking for some.

Our friends over at EcoJarz are another stalwart sponsor. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. If you’re looking to get into fermentation this spring, their fermenting kit is a useful and affordable option!

New to the Food in Jars family is McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supply. Based in Brooklyn, they are open to the public and sell all manner of culinary supplies. Restaurant supply stores are a great way to get affordable, durable kitchen gear (including jars!)

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 lidsstrawssprouting lidsfermentation weightsairlockstea light converterscozies, they are there for you.

Next up 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. Make sure to subscribe to the CanningCrafts newsletter, because you’ll get a 10% off coupon code!

And if your company, shop, or family business is interested in 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!

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Jars on Vacation Ireland Edition

Last month, Scott and I spent 12 days in Ireland. This trip proved to be exactly the vacation we both needed and I came home feeling refreshed in a way that I haven’t been in ages. We spent our time exploring historic sites, walking many miles a day, and eating as much Irish butter as two humans can reasonable hold.

Since Ireland is a very jar-friendly country, I thought it was high time to bring back the Jars on Vacation post. Here are just some of the jar images I shot while away!

Our first night, we stayed at Ghan House in Carlingford. The room had a charming tea service, complete with jar of shortbread cookies. Scott was quite pleased.

The next morning, the breakfast featured a lazy Susan with an impressive nine homemade preserves.

While in Cork, we wandered into Sostrene Grene (a shop I desperately wish would come to the US). I really wanted one of these hobnailed jars, but knew that it would be hard to get home.

Heinz pickles in Belfast. Why don’t we have all these lovely varieties here?

Le Parfait!

Kilner!

All sorts of fermented goodies at the Midleton farmers market.

I wish my canned cherry tomatoes remained so intact!

McClure’s pickles in Ireland!

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Rhubarb Hibiscus Jam + Fillmore Container Livestream

Want to see this Rhubarb Hibiscus Jam in action? Join me this Saturday, April 28 for a livestream demo on the Fillmore Container Facebook page. I’ll show you how to make it from start to finish and will answer all your canning questions!

As I type, my living room windows are wide open to let in the light and air of spring (street noise and city dirt come along for the ride, but they’re a price I’m willing to pay at the moment). After what felt like an interminable winter, it’s such a relief to shuck off all the heavy, warming things for both clothes and foods that are crisper and lighter.

For me, the appearance of rhubarb is one of the most welcome signals that easier days are on the horizon. I spotted some while in Ireland earlier this month and kept my fingers tightly crossed that some would be waiting for me when I got home. And it was!

Earlier this week, I scooped up two and a half pounds at my local produce market. As he rang up my total, the clerk asked me if I was going to be making a pie. When I told him it was destined for jam, he seemed a little disappointed (perhaps he was going to ask for a slice?).

Once home, I cleaned the rhubarb, cut away the sad ends, and cut it all into half inch-wide slices. It filled my largest measuring cup, which felt just right in terms of the batch size I wanted.

In years passed, I would often combine rhubarb with a fresh vanilla bean, but because vanilla is so scarce and expensive these days, I reached for my jar of dried hibiscus flowers, instead. I had a feeling they would compliment the tartness of the rhubarb and would help enhance its ruby glow.

I combined most of the rhubarb with two cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of the hibiscus flowers (they went into my biggest tea ball, but cheesecloth would also work) and let it all macerate overnight.

I held about 1/2 cup of the rhubarb back from the pot, to stir in at the end. Rhubarb collapses as it cooks and I wanted the finished jam to have some texture. By holding some back to stir in at the very end, you end up with a bit more elemental rhubarbness in the jam.

I did use a bit of Pomona’s Pectin to help bolster the set and help corral the runny juices. However, if you’re someone who prefers a softer set jam, you could leave it out.

For those of you who like to learn by seeing rather than reading, I will be demonstrating how to make this jam this Saturday (April 28, 2018) at 7 pm eastern time on the Fillmore Container Facebook page. I’ll walk you through the process, show off those gorgeous new amber jars, and will answer all your questions live.

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Cookbooks: Southern From Scratch

I have spent more than a few moments in my life wishing that I came from a place or background with a well-defined food culture. My culinary identity is a decided hodgepodge of mid-century Jewish cooking, hippie whole grain, and 1980s west coast home cooking. While the food that issues forth from these influences is reliably good and occasionally exceptional, it isn’t really grounded in place or culture.

Because I feel culinarily untethered, I often find myself gravitating to cookbooks that offer insight and exposure to more rooted ways of bellying up to the stove or kitchen table. One such book that appeals to me both on this level, and on the preserving front, is Ashley English‘s latest, called Southern From Scratch.

This is Ashley’s most personal book and it does a gorgeous job synthesizing her own food experiences with the Southern kitchen know-how taught to her by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Truly, from the moment you open up the cover, you feel like Ashley is there, guiding you along through the recipes.

This book is organized by pantry category (Pickles & Relishes, Sauces & Vinegars, Fats & Meats, etc.). Within in chapter, you’ll find a collection of master recipes (depending on the chapter topic, you’ll find as few as four and as many as twelve). Each master recipe then has a couple-three sub-recipes, designed to help you make the most of it.

There’s quite a lot in this book that speaks directly to my preserve-loving heart. There’s the Sweet Onion Relish (page 35 – I’m forever on the hunt for the best onion preserve), Muscadine Jelly (page 71 – we get these for a brief window each summer), Chile Sauce (page 107 – this recipe has a particularly lovely headnote), and the Southern Shakshuka with Hoecakes (page 123 – this just sounds delicious).

I think you all are really going to like this book!

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New Amber Jars from Ball Canning + Discount Code from Fillmore Container

Curious about the new amber Ball jars? Use the code “BALL5%OFF” on Fillmore Container to get 5% off all Ball jars.

Spring is here! The birds are chirping. Daffodils are blooming. New-born lambs are gamboling. And this year’s line-up of specialty mason jars from Ball Canning are now available.

This year, these specialty jars come in three sizes (pint, quart, and half gallon) and are made of sturdy amber glass. Unlike previous colored jars, these amber ones are designed to block 99% of harmful UV rays, which can help maintain quality, color, and fragrance in preserves, dried herbs, and tinctures.

One thing I like about these jars is that they glass is so opaque that it doesn’t appear to discolor the contents of the jar, it simply conceals (unlike previous generations of colored jars, which left your preserves looking a little sickly).

I also appreciate how thick and sturdy the glass feels (while I haven’t pulled out a measuring device, I believe that the walls might be a bit thicker than in other Ball jars). The only downside to their opacity is that if you use them for canning, you really need to label the jars well, because you’re not going to be able to intuit the contents without opening the jar.

This week, I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container, to show you how these jars perform in a canning situation and offer a discount code (read on!), in case you want to get some of your own. I cooked up a batch of this strawberry ginger jam and processed two of the three pints the recipe made in these new amber jars.

The reason I chose to use these jars for strawberry jam is that it’s a preserve that is notorious for its tendency to discolor, particularly if made with lower amounts of sugar. My hope is that six months from now, these jars will still be vividly bright.

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container to tell you about these new jars, rather than with Ball Canning. The reason is this. Ball isn’t selling jars or appliances directly to consumers anymore. If you’ve been over to Fresh Preserving lately, you might have noticed this.

However, Fillmore Container has one of the largest selections of Ball jars available online (and they are a family-owned company based right here in Pennsylvania), making it easy for you guys to get your hands on these jars.

This week, you can use the code “BALL5%OFF” to get 5% off all the Ball Jars that Fillmore Container sells. This coupon is valid April 23, 2018 through April 30, 2018. You do need to be logged into a user account on the Fillmore Container site for the coupon code to work (an account is free to set up) and the discount does not apply to shipping.

I definitely feel like these amber jars have a place in my kitchen and pantry and I’m happy to have them as an option. What are your thoughts?

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor and provided the jars pictured in this post at no cost to me. 

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Cookbooks: Bring It!

I have long believed that when it comes to entertaining, most people can roughly be broken down into two groups. There are potluck people and dinner party people. My friend Cindy is most decidedly a dinner party person. She likes to control the menu and create an experience for her friends. I am more of a potluck person. I love the uncertainty of inviting people to bring with them whatever they’re moved to make.

I have definite opinions of what makes a good potluck dish (ideally something that can be served at room temperature and can be eaten from a plate with a fork). I’m forever curious about the recipes that other people prefer for potlucks and so make a point of checking out new potluck cookbooks whenever one is published.

The latest book on the topic to come to market is Ali Rosen’s Bring It! Ali is the force behind Potluck Video, a video series that you can find online and on NYC Life on Thursday nights.

This book is broken up into seven chapters. It opens with an introductory section that offers tips on How to Bring It. From there, it moves into Hors d’Oeuvres and Dips, Salads, Casseroles/Pastas/Tarts, Meats and Fish, Veggies and Grains, and Desserts.

There’s plenty of appealing food in this book (though I find the photography style a little unsettling. The lighting feels excessively artificial). In addition to the dishes pictured throughout this post, I’ve marked the Grits Casserole (page 106), the Cherry Tomato Tart (page 117), and the Farro with Charred Vegetables (page 188) as things I hope to make.

If you’re someone who attends regular potlucks and needs new inspiration, this book will certainly be of use!

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