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A Trip to Fishers, IN with Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products to Fishers, IN, where I spent an action-packed day and a half with three other bloggers to peek behind the scenes and participate in Can-It Forward Day festivities.

I flew in to Indianapolis and met up with Linda and Kathryne, of Garden Betty and Cookie and Kate, respectively (Heather from Whipperberry arrived a little after we did). Our first stop was Minnetrista in Muncie.

Minnetrista is the original Ball family homesite and now houses an extensive collection of artifacts and archival material from the Ball family as well as East Central Indiana. If you’re a jar lover, it’s most certainly worth a visit, but if you can’t swing a trip, start by browsing their collection database online (try the random image search. It’s fascinating).

Their collection includes vast number of unique jars, tea sets, old jar molds, and even a small collection of Bob Ross painting (happy little trees!) I particularly loved the story of the jar pictured above. They were made specially for the Southern Methodist Orphan Home during the Great Depression.

The Home distributed them to residents of Waco, TX and asked that each household fill one or two jars while they were putting up their harvest. This way, the orphans had plenty to eat, even during the leanest of years.

After our tour of Minnetrista, we had dinner at Thr3e Wise Men in Muncie. We had a ton of food, including some seriously delicious fried pickle chips.

After dinner, I snuck away for a couple hours to see an old friend who moved to Muncie a several years ago. I met his kids, held their youngest (just a week old!), and caught up on their life.

The next day started bright and early, with breakfast with the Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products team. After we were fed and had coffee, it was time to take a tour of the packaging plant. I kind of loved the toe protectors we were given to wear (they looked oddly good with my red clogs). Not pictured were the neon vests, hard hats, safety glasses, and earplugs we were also assigned.

Ball® jars are made primarily in a factory north of Muncie, and then they’re transported (stacked and strapped to pallets, like you see pictured above) to the facility in Fishers. This is where they’re checked over, given lids and rings, grouped into boxes, and wrapped in plastic.

The machine they use to put the lids and rings on the jars was fascinating (it was kind of steam punky), but sadly it is proprietary equipment and so I couldn’t take any photos or video of it work its magic.

They process Ball®, Kerr, Golden Harvest, and Bernardin (Canada!) jars in that facility. This is also where they package jars up into smaller lots for various retailers. When you see a fancy jar end-cap display at your grocery store, it probably started life in Fishers.

Looking out at row after row of jars, I couldn’t help but imagine a game show for canners in the style of Supermarket Sweep. Winner gets to run around and grab all the jars they can in just 60 seconds (sadly, it’ll never happen. But it’s fun to dream!).

Once our tour was over, we had a short canning class with Jess Piper. She’s a member of the customer support team at Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products and if you reach out to them with a question or issue, she may well be the one to help you resolve your query. Jess also does the bulk of the on-camera presentations for Ball, is a certified canning expert, and is a delightful human.

You might think I’d feel silly taking a canning class, but I always find it useful to hear how other people present canning information. One tidbit I picked up is the fact that mason jars are designed to withstand a 90 degree F temperature change, but more than that and you risk thermal shock. I hadn’t know the exact temperature range before. Never stop learning!

After our class, we had lunch and then got down to the business of filming the Can-It Forward video segments. My segment was going to be the last to air and so we were the last to film. We demonstrated Habanero-Apricot Jelly (made with dried apricots and perfect for off-season canning!) and Sriracha Ketchup and then used them in a recipe (you’ll have to watch the segment to see what we made!).

The time flew by and before I knew it, we were done. Everyone piled into the bus and we headed to dinner. There had been talk of going to the Indiana State Fair afterwards, but it had been a full day and we were all ready to tumble into our respective beds after dessert came.

The Preserving Summer Canning Series we filmed aired throughout August. You can watch Kathryne, LindaHeather, and me over on the Ball® Fresh Preserving Products Facebook page. Make sure to let me know what you think!

Disclosure: I am a paid partner for Newell Brand, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Red Currants, Dry Canning, and Family Traditions

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is back with another post from her canning trenches. This time, she’s sharing her experience trying dry canning (aka open kettle canning) with her Canadian relatives. -Marisa

As I’m sure is the case with many of you readers, I first learned to can thanks to recipes and tips here on Food In Jars.

Marisa’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and clear, well-researched recipes and instructions have always made it easy to understand the principles of safe and delicious canning. Ever since then, I’ve felt confident in putting up seasonal produce and even developing or tweaking recipes of my own, knowing that they were based on safe, tested, well-researched information. And I’d never known anyone who practiced home preserving any other way.

That is, until I paid a visit to family in Quebec earlier this month.

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Wild Blueberry Jam with Berries from Maine

A few weeks ago, I did a slightly crazy thing. On Friday morning, I packed up my car, did some quick grocery shopping, and spent eight hours driving to Maine to teach a class at Frinklepod Farm. I got there around 10:30 pm, tumbled into a cozy bed tucked into stone room in a majestic barn, and woke up to a gorgeous morning, ready to teach.

I spent seven hours setting up, teaching (such a delightful group of students!), and cleaning up (thankfully, I had plenty of help from Flora and MaryJo) and then hopped back in the car and drove myself home. All told, I was only there for about 16 hours. I wish I’d managed to spend a little more time in Maine, but the craziness of late summer didn’t allow for me to spend any more time away from home.

Despite the shortness of my visit, I did manage to bring a little bit of Maine back home with me. Three perfect pints of intensely flavorful wild Maine blueberries.

Now, we get plenty of cultivated blueberries here in Philly, but these tiny wild berries are a different beast. Sturdy, tart, and intensely flavorful, they make gorgeous jam. They are also a little fiddly to separate from their stems (which is why, if you look closely, you’ll see a few stems. I lost my patience with trying to remove them all).

I used a ratio of three parts fruit to one part sugar for this batch (calculating by weight). This means, if you have access to wild blueberries and don’t have the exact amount that I used, you can still proceed with what you’ve got.

I might need to drive to Maine again next summer, so that I can make more of this tasty jam. (The jar labels pictured above are from site sponsor CanningCrafts and the jars are from site sponsor Fillmore Container).

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Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Time is running out on cherry season but there’s still time to make this Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade! And if you can’t find Meyers, regular lemons will also do (thought get organic if you can!).

Seven jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Back in early July, the good folks from the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers sent me a giant box of cherries as part of this year’s Canbassador program (8th year! Crazy!). I shared a recipe for spiced cherry preserves and another for sweet cherry ketchup, and then life got a little crazy (vacation! work travel! an endless cold!).

lemons and cherries for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I promised I’d share recipes for the final two things I made with my cherry shipment, and I’m going to fulfill half that promise tonight with this recipe for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade (I can’t find my notes from the cherry black raspberry jam, so that recipe may be lost until next season when I can take another stab at the combination).

I’m also motivated to get this recipe up because while sweet cherries are still available fresh, I hear that they’ll be around stores for no more than another week or two. So while we’re on clock here, it is still possible to make this preserve this year!

Ingredients in the pot for Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I’ve made a lot of different things with sweet cherries over the years and I’ve found that the preserves I like the best are the ones in which I aggressively temper their sweetness with tart, tangy, and sour flavors (case in point, these lightly pickled sweet cherries).

In the case of the this marmalade, I use a full pound of Meyer lemons to bring the pucker. These particular lemons were grown by the always-delightful Karen of Lemon Ladies Orchard and I hear she’s got a few summer lemons available, should you need to get your hands on some.

a close up on the jars of Sweet Cherry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I approach this recipe over the course of two days. On day one, the cherries are stemmed, heaped in a pan with a cup of water, and simmered until soft. Then they’re left to sit overnight until cool. Simultaneously while the cherries do their initial cook, the lemons are cut into slivers, placed in a roomy bowl and covered them with two cups of water. They also soak overnight (this helps soften the rind and makes for a more pleasing finished texture.

The next day, you pinch the pits out of the cherries, add the lemons and their water, along with four cups of sugar. Finally, you boil it all down into a pleasingly sweet, tart, and spreadable marmalade that married seasons and flavors beautifully.

Oh, and one last thing. Should you want to see what some of the other Canbassadors have done this year, make sure to follow the Washington State Stone Fruit folks on social media, as they’ve been sharing all the posts. Here’s where you can find them.

FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest

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Small Batch Nectarine Lime Jam Recipe

On the hunt for a quick, satisfying preservation project? Look no further than this small batch nectarine lime jam recipe!

I love making tiny batches of jam (I often wish I could write a second volume of Preserving by the Pint, because I so enjoy developing small, quick preserving recipes). This one is a three ingredient job, made with just 1 1/2 pounds of nectarines (thanks Washington State Stone Fruit Growers!), a scant cup of sugar, and the zest and juice from a small lime.

Cooked down in a stainless steel skillet, it needs no more than 15 minutes on the stove. You can either process it, or funnel it into a jar, pop it in the fridge, and eat it until it is gone. Fast. Easy. Good.

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Indiana Peach Chutney Recipe

A vintage recipe updated for modern palates and kitchens, this take on Indiana Peach Chutney is a little spicy, perfectly sweet, and is ideal for preserving peach season.

Six jars of Indiana Peach Chutney

I woke up Sunday morning, itching to get rid of some cookbooks. At least once a year, I like to sort through my absurdly large collection and move some things along. My criteria for letting go of books is pretty simple (if a little haphazard).

If I’ve never cooked from it, I pull it from the shelf and flip through. If nothing strikes my fancy, it goes in the outward bound stack. If spot something that tickles my culinary creativity, I drop a marker in the book and either put it back on the shelf or, if it’s something I want to make in the immediate future, I put the book on my desk.

The Best in American Cooking, the book that contains the recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney

I had spent the previous couple days in Indiana for the Can-It Forward Day festivities, and so when I evaluated whether I was going to keep my copy of Clementine Paddleford’s The Best in American Cooking, the recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney caught my eye.

It also spoke to me because I had a fridge full of peaches and nectarines from the latest shipment from Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and needed to start moving that fruit into jars.

The original recipe for Indiana Peach Chutney

Of course, I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter. To begin with, I don’t have the patience for a process that requires one to poach the fruit in a sugar syrup until translucent (I used a combination of peaches and nectarines, and didn’t peel any of them, either).

Next thing to go was the two styles of raisins (I had dark ones in abundance and so that’s what I used). Finally, I couldn’t abide the idea of adding food coloring. I was certain that whatever color it ended up being would be totally fine.

Indiana Peach Chutney ingredients in the pot

If you tuned in to Monday night’s livestream (catch the next one on Monday, August 21 at 9 pm eastern), this is the recipe I used to demonstrate steam canning (I promised it a bit earlier than this, but such is life).

The finished flavor is gingery, a little bit spicy, and very fruity. Like many other chutneys, this one is going to be great with cheese, perfect as a bright condiment alongside grain bowls, and delightful on a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

Close up on jars of Indiana Peach Chutney

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