One of the challenges I faced when I first started canning more seriously was finding the right tools to do the job well. Though the act of putting food in jars has been growing in popularity, most urban grocery stores don’t make a practice of carrying canning supplies, particularly year round (and I’m a firm believer in the idea that there are food preservation projects to be done every month of the year). And my very favorite wide-mouth half-pint jars? Impossible to find in stores, even on a trip out to Lancaster County, a mecca for home preservation enthusiasts.
Of course, there’s always the internet. However, I’ve found that it’s way too easy to buy a stinker of a product when you’re purchasing sight unseen and without trusted recommendations (I don’t know about you, but I read reviews obsessively). So awhile back, I began to look for a way to gather all my favorite canning tools, supplies and books up into a single place, to make it easy for you guys to get the good stuff, no trial and error required. And happily, I’ve found that place in OpenSky.
You may have heard about OpenSky already from some of your (other) favorite bloggers. Ruhlman recently announced his shop and Nick at Macheesmo opened up last month. Essentially, the goal at OpenSky is to give people that old-time shopping experience, in which buyers can engage with trusted shopkeepers and make purchases in confidence, knowing that they are being pointed to the very best products.
Right now, my shop has just over a dozen items in stock. But I promise you, the selection will grow. I’m working with OpenSky to get those wide-mouth half-pints in stock, as well as the quilted 12-ounce jars, as they’re just perfect for pickled asparagus (and oh happy day, asparagus season is coming!).
One thing I do have in stock right now is this instant read thermometer/timer from Taylor. Scott and I got ours as a wedding gift, and it is now one of my most used kitchen tools. It is magnetized so that it can live on the refrigerator and thermometer probe cord is nice and long. The thing I most adore about this gadget is the fact that it has a temperature alarm. This means that when you’re making a batch of jelly or marmalade, you can set the alarm to ring when the pot reaches 220 degrees.
While I don’t recommend turning your back on a boiling pot of jelly, this does mean that you can do quick clean-up tasks while the pot works toward set-temperature without fear of overcooking (in this case, it’s best to use a really big pot, so that you’re not worried about boiling over). I also rely on this guy when making yogurt (and I’ll be featuring that technique soon).
Really, I can’t speak highly enough about this thermometer, particular if you’re a fan of making summer jams without added pectin.
I’ll occasionally be letting you all know when I post new items in the shop. I hope you all find this useful!