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Homemade Fig Mustard

Finished Fig Mustard - Food in Jars

I’ve been in California for the last week and I’ve spent most of that time sitting on my best friend’s couch, trying to recover from the flu. This was supposed to be the triumphant start to my book tour, but instead I’ve been forced to lay very low.

It’s been a lesson in flexibility and surrender, as well as a reminder that I’ve pushed myself too hard over the last year. However, thanks to a cocktail of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, decongestants, and Tamiflu, I am starting to feel human again. And so I thought I’d drop in to talk about mustard.

Fig Mustard in New Persian - Food in Jars

Mustard has long been one of my favorite condiments. I learned to love it when I was very young as an accompaniment to hot dogs and turkey bologna, and as an adult, eat it with cheese, sausage, and cold turkey. And I do so love a toasted cheese sandwich with spicy, flavorful mustard.

Dried Figs - Food in Jars

The inspiration for this particular mustard came from Louisa Shafia’s wonderful book, The New Persian Kitchen. I revisited my copy earlier this year because Joy and I were featuring the book on Local Mouthful and this mustard practically leapt off the page at me.

Toasted Mustard Seeds - Food in Jars

I marked it a couple months ago, but finally made it just a few days before I left for this trip (admittedly, I was stockpiling recipes so that I’d have some things to post here while I was away). I ended up tweaking the ingredients a little and streamlining the process.

Fig Mustard in Pot - Food in Jars

I increased the amount of acid a bit, both because I wanted the finished flavor to be a bit tangier and because I wanted to ensure that it would be safe for canning. I also opted to use an immersion blender for the pureeing process, rather than transfer the mustard to a blender or food processor. Beyond that, the recipe is all Louisa.

While I haven’t dug into my jars yet, I feel certain that this mustard will be magical on turkey sandwiches. I bet it would also work nicely as a glaze for roasted chicken legs and thighs.

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Meyer Lemon Lavender Jam

Meyer Lemon Jam Tower - Food in Jars

Oh friends. I meant to post this recipe weeks ago, but with the intensity and chaos of life lately, it got lost in the shuffle. We’re getting late in the season for Meyer lemons, but if you’re motivated, you should be able to find a few for this jam. If you’re in Philly, know that Sue’s Produce has them (for $4 a pound, but still).

Trimmed Lemons in Pot - Food in Jars

I made my first whole fruit citrus jam a few years ago, and continue to love it as an alternative to marmalade. You get all the zippy tang and flavor, without the hours of chopping and mincing (though if you love marmalade for it’s texture, this is no substitute).

Meyer Lemon Jam Jars - Food in Jars

To prep, you wash and trim the fruit. Layer it in a pot large enough to hold the fruit in a single layer and run enough water in to just cover the fruit. Set the pot on the stove, put a lid on it, and simmer the fruit for about 20 minutes, until the lemons are tender, but not falling apart.

Once they’re cool, you cut the fruit in half, scoop out the seeds over a sieve, puree the fruit, and cook it down with sugar and flavorings. In this case, I infused the fruit with some dried lavender, but I’ve been pondering a batch spiked with chiles.

Dozen Meyer Lemon Jam - Food in Jars

The applications for a jam like this vary. I’ve had great success pairing it with fresh, creamy cheeses like ricotta or farmers. If you leave it a little bit runny, a drizzle into a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and granola is terrific. It can also be used to lend acid and sweetness to stir-fried chicken or shrimp. Heck, if you left the lavender out, I can see it being a delicious dipping sauce for homemade chicken fingers.

On the beverage side, you could stir a spoonful into a mug of hot water when your throat is scratchy. Or use some in a hot toddy in place of honey. There are just so many options.

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Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

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Food in Jars is Seven Years Old Today!

Seven Years

Hard though it may be to believe, today is the seventh anniversary of the very first post on this blog (it feels like it’s been both much longer and far shorter than that). I started this site when I knew I would be leaving my job as the lead blogger of Slashfood. I wanted to create an online home for myself so that I could remain involved in the food blog community once that gig was up.

I had no idea then that I would be starting something that would evolve into a robust, fulfilling, and occasionally maddening career. I am grateful every day for this patch of internet and all that it has brought into my life.

I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the most popular posts I’ve published over the years. Do you spot your favorite among these ten? If not, what post did you love the best?

tomato sauce

1. Why You Can’t Can Your Family’s Tomato Sauce – Ever popular and ever contentious, this post tries to give people a basic understanding of how pH works in canning.

runny jam

2.How to Save Runny Jam – Canners everywhere struggle with this issue, and never is it more clear than in the comments section of this post!

small tomatoes

3. Five Ways to Preserve Small Tomatoes – These remain my favorite ways to put up grape, cherry, and Sungold tomatoes. The recipe for pickled grape tomatoes at the end of the post is both entirely fussy and truly delicious. I highly recommend it.

canning pot trivet rack

4. New to Canning? Start Here: Boiling Water Bath Canning – It took me years to get a post detailing the steps of boiling water bath canning up on this site, but the one I finally produced is something about which I continue to be proud. I still mean to pick that New to Canning series up someday.

tomato jam

5. Tomato Jam – It’s the first recipe to make the list and is truly the most deserving of all the recipes I’ve published here. If you still haven’t tried it, earmark it for this summer.

salt for canning

6. On Substituting Salt in Pickling – A useful post, but one that could probably use a revisit for clarity’s sake.

jam drips

7. How to Ensure That Your Jam Sets – Useful information, though sometimes jam just won’t set, no matter what you do!

curried zucchini pickles

8. Six Ways to Preserve Zucchini – Curried zucchini pickles! Chocolate zucchini bread! Zucchini butter with garlic and thyme! So delicious!

jalapenos in jars

9. Unfancy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers – Utilitarian canning at its best.

garlic dill pickles

10. Garlic Dill Pickles – They don’t hold their texture perfectly, but the flavors are spot on. I’ve taken to making these as refrigerator pickles, to retain their signature crunch.

Comments { 29 }

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter + OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender

Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!

Finished Maple Bourbon Apple Butter - Food in Jars

My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).

OXO Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender - Food in Jars

My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.

Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring an new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed.

OXO Core Clip - Food in Jars

Guys, the OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.

Chopped Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and lets not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.

Cooked Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely OXO immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.

OXO Blending Apples - Food in Jars

No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.

The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.

OXO Blender in Action - Food in Jars

As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter Overhead - Food in Jars

The OXO On Digital Illuminating Immersion Blender isn’t the only small kitchen appliance that OXO has brought to market lately. There’s also an illuminating hand mixer, a pair of motorized toasters, and a line of coffee makers and water kettles (several times lately, I’ve found myself at Williams-Sonoma, petting the 9-cup coffee maker). I look forward to seeing what OXO creates next!

Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Low Sugar Apple Ginger Butter

A light, silky apple butter with shot through with fresh ginger. Try it with latkes instead of plain applesauce.

Apple Ginger Butter - Food in Jars

Back in October, Janet sent me two boxes. One contained an assortment of apples and the other was filled with fragrant, fuzzy quince. I laid the fruit out on big, rimmed sheet pan and spent a day admiring it (and sniffing the quince for the pleasure of their rosy scent).

apples for butter - Food in Jars

Soon though, it was time to get down to the business of preserving. There were enough apples for two recipes (we’ll talk about the quince later). I transformed half the apples into a batch of maple sweetened butter (like this one, but with several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar stirred in at the end for extra tang). The remaining six pounds became this light, gingery butter.

apple butter on the stove - Food in Jars

I’ll confess, I’ve gone back and and forth inside my head, debating as to whether or not to actually call this recipe a butter. You see, most of us think of fruit butters as intensely dense things, brown from spices and hours on the stove.

This apple and ginger preserve is light in color and silky in texture. It is zippy and bright where a traditional butter is earthy. But jam isn’t quite right. Neither is jelly, conserve, sauce, or puree. Until I come up with a better name, butter will just have to do.

apple ginger nectar - Food in Jars

If you decide to make this preserve, make sure to save those cores and peels left over from prepping the apples. Heap them into a saucepan, add more fresh ginger, and fill the pot with water.

Let it simmer away on the back burner for an hour or so, until the peels are soft and translucent. Once strained, you’ll have an apple-ginger nectar that is delicious sipped warm or chilled. It’s an almost effortless way to get all the goodness from your apples that you can.

Apple Ginger Butter close - Food in Jars

In this, the season of latkes (Hanukkah starts on December 6!), I can think of no higher calling for this butter than a top a disc of fried potatoes. However, if latkes aren’t your thing, don’t think you can write this one off. It’s awfully good stirred into a bowl of steel cut oats and I can’t stop imagining it layered into shortbread bar cookie.

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