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Giveaway: Anolon Vesta Cast Iron 7 Quart Casserole

I bought my first piece of enameled cast iron cookware in the spring of 2007. It was from TJ Maxx and cost all of $40 (which felt like a fortune on my grad student budget). It was lime green, held about five quarts, and I thought it was the nicest thing in my kitchen. Heartbreakingly, the enamel began to chip and crack after only dozen uses.

Since then, I’ve had a number of pieces of enameled cast iron from a number of different makers, but continue to search for the unicorn of this category. A piece that is affordable enough that I can recommend it to someone on a grad school budget, that doesn’t chip easily, holds enough to feed a crowd, and is great for cooking down jams, fruit butters, and sauces.

Friends, I think I’ve finally found the mythical creature of enameled cast iron cookware and it’s known as Anolon’s Vesta Cast Iron 7 Quart Casserole. The outside is an elegant coffee color and the interior sports a matte black enamel interior. The underside of the lid is studded with raised nubs that are designed to channel flavorful liquid back into the food as it cooks. It conducts heat evenly, cleans up beautifully, and is far more affordable than other enameled cast iron pots of comparable size.

Now, if this pot looks familiar, that’s because I featured the braiser from this line a couple of years back. And while I still regularly employ that braiser, this seven quart casserole is the pot that’s taken up permanent residence on my stove top. I’ve used it for at least eight batches of jam, chutney, and compotes, as well as several rounds of soup and pasta sauce. It’s a work horse and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

If you watched my livestream earlier tonight, you saw me scooping chutney out of this very pot! And happily, this week the folks at Anolon are letting me give away one of these highly useful, totally durable, and perfectly elegant casseroles away to a lucky blog reader! Use the widget below to enter!

For more information about Anolon and their cookware, follow them on social media. Here’s where you can find them.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Disclosure: Anolon is provided both the casserole you see here and the one I’m giving away at no cost to me. All opinions expresses are entirely my own. 

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Giveaway: Mrs. Wages Tomato Prize Pack

I look forward to tomato season all year. Because I don’t have a garden, it always starts for me when the hot house tomatoes appear at my local farmers market. Then, there comes a trickle of small tomatoes like sungold and cherry tomatoes. And then finally, the torrent. Tables heaped with heirlooms, slicers, and sturdy paste tomatoes.

Because I know that tomato season is fleeting, I make a point of canning at least 100 pounds of tomatoes each season (and sometimes more!). I can them whole, make puree, and cook pans of tomatoes down into thick, flavorful pastes. I also like to employ a little help and so occasionally turn to a package of Mrs. Wages salsa or pasta sauce. Made from spices, dehydrated herbs, citric acid, and salt, these packets are such a time saver and create a finished product that makes my home cooking delicious.

This week, I’m giving away a whole assortment of Mrs. Wages Tomato seasoning mixes. The basket will contain an assortment of mixes, including classic salsa, ketchup, and much more. If you’re interested in a chance to win this giant package of tomato canning goodness, use the widget below.

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Giveaway: Grater Set from EcoJarz

When I first started canning and collecting jars, finding cool jar accessories was nearly impossible. Happily, in the last ten years, a world of nifty accessories and adapters has exploded onto the scene. One of my favorite makers of useful things for mason jars is EcoJarz. They make drink lids, storage lids, and food prep accessories out of high quality stainless steel and food-grade silicone.

This week, I’m giving away one of their grater sets. This handy kit comes with a slicer lid, a grater lid, two silicone seals, a stainless steel ring, and a wide mouth half pint mason jar. It allows you to grate, slice, and store the excess easily.

If you want to win this nifty set, please use the widget below to enter!

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Giveaway: Maple Syrup from Tree of Life Maple Farm

This week’s giveaway comes to us from the Babiarz family at the Tree of Life Maple Farm. They are a small organic maple farm based in Northwestern Maine, just a few miles from the Canadian border. All the maple products they sell come from their sugarbush, which they tap while the trees are still frozen. This allows them to gather the cleanest and clearest sap as thaw arrives.

The Tree of Life syrup is available in three different colors. Each color has its own unique properties while retaining its essential maple qualities. The lightest syrups are generally made earlier in the season, while the darker hues typically come later.

Tree of Life Maple Farm sells their syrup in a variety of packages. They offer glass bottles in a handful of different sizes and shapes for gift giving, as well as in more conventional plastic jugs for those of us who like to cook and bake with our maple and want something a little easier to juggle in the kitchen.

They also sell some of the most gorgeous, light maple sugar I’ve tried (and I used a lot of the stuff while working on Naturally Sweet Food in Jars).

The team at Tree of Life believes that maple syrup is good for so much more than just pancakes. It’s something that is equally delicious in coffee, yogurt, baked goods, and more. And one lucky winner will get a chance to try some of their delicious syrup. This week, we’re giving away one 500 ml glass jug of Organic Golden Maple Syrup and one 500 ml glass jug of Organic Dark Maple Syrup to share. Please use the widget below to enter!

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Giveaway: Le Parfait Familia Wiss 750 mL Canning Jars

A little over a year ago, when I was traveling up the west coast promoting Naturally Sweet, I stopped in at Down to Earth in Eugene for a demo and book signing. Before we got started, I took a moment to wander through their canning section. They had all the familiar jars and tools, but they also had a massive array of Le Parfait jars.

I wanted to fill the car with an array of those graceful, sturdy jars, but sadly, I was 3,000 miles from home and driving my parents’ station wagon. I was fairly certain that they would not appreciate it if I rolled up to their house with a wayback full of French preserves jars and asked them to keep them in the garage until I could find a way to get them back to Philadelphia.

Now, Le Parfait makes several lines of jars. Most of us are familiar with the Super Jars with their rubber gaskets and locking lids (I particularly love their Super Terrines for dry goods). And you may have used or spotted their Jam Jars (they have lug lids and look much like the jars you buy Bonne Maman jam in). But it was their Familia Wiss line that most captured my attention.

The reason that I was so charmed by Familia Wiss is that they are functional canning jars that are incredibly durable and beautiful. They have really wide mouths, making packing and filling a dream. They come in a wider array of sizes than regular mason jars (200, 350, 500, 750, 1000, and 1500 mL). And I found the sealing system so smart and reasonable.

Instead of using a lid and ring like our standard two-piece system, these jars use a flat lid and a fully encapsulating lid. The metal is heavier, they’re less prone to rusting, and seal that’s produced is incredibly strong. When you open up the jar to eat the contents, you can discard the flat lid and just use the cap for storage (they also sell bright orange plastic lids that fit these jars, which are a fun option for storing pantry items).

Once you understand how the basics of how the lids work, you can approach these Familia Wiss jars the same way that you do any other mason jar. You want to use new lids for each round of canning (and they can be ordered here). They should be clean but don’t need to be boiling prior to use. And like any other jar, once the jar has cooled and the seal is achieved, you can remove the outer lid and store the jars with just their sealed flat lid.

There is one downside to the Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars and that’s their cost. They come at a higher price than we’re typically accustomed to paying for canning jars. At first I bristled at the idea of paying more for jars, but I’m starting to think that they’re worth the price.

For one thing, they’re so much stronger than the grocery store jars. I hear from people on a near-daily basis about brand new Ball jars breaking in the canner. I can’t imagine that ever happening with a Le Parfait Familia Wiss jar. They are just so darn tough. And since I know that canning is something I’m going to continue to do across my lifetime, investing in gear that will pull its weight for the long haul doesn’t bother me.

The other thing is that I believe that working with higher quality jars leads to a more thoughtful approach to food preservation. Sometimes I preserve simply because I got a good deal or I start to feel that summertime panic that everything is currently in season and I MUST. PUT. UP. However, as I strive to be more conscious and preserving with an eye towards using up (rather than stockpiling), choosing the strong, beautiful jars that happen to be a little more expensive feels like a good choice.

This week, I’m partnering with the Le Parfait folks on a promotion and a giveaway. Two lucky people will each win a set of four 750 mL Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars (use the widget below to enter). These jars hold the same volume as the pint and a half jars that so many of us find particularly useful!

If you want to try some of the Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars and don’t want to take your chances on the giveaway, you can head over to Amazon, browse the size options, and use the code FOODNJAR for 5% off your order (the code is good through the end of July).

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Giveaway: Anchor Hocking Jars from Fillmore Container

Love learning about new jars? Read on for details about the line of Anchor Hocking canning jars, available from our friends at Fillmore Container, as well as a chance to win a case to use in your own kitchen!

When it comes to gathering vessels for preserving, I have always been something of a magpie. I like to use jars of different shapes and from different makers. The result is a pantry that gives off a sense of happy, appealing chaos (of course, it’s only an appearance. I always know what’s in there, down to the very last item). It also allows for a preserves closet where you almost always have exactly the right sized jar for dinner prep, potluck preparations, or a gift basket.

Thanks to our friends at Fillmore Container, I’ve recently added a new line of jars to my kitchen and I am quite pleased to have them. Made by Anchor Hocking, these sturdy, squared off jars are an affordable, pleasing option for any home canner. If you have any vintage Anchor Hocking jars in your collection, the shape and heft of these jars will be familiar (though sadly, these are not quite as graceful as the ones our grandmothers knew and used).

These Anchor Hocking jars come in three sizes – quarts, pints, and half pints. Fillmore sells them without closures, which allows you to choose from a world of possibilities. They have regular mouth openings and so can be sealed with Ball brand lids and rings, with open stock lids and rings from Fillmore, or with one-piece lids designed to be used on jars with continuous threads (if you’re curious how to can at home using one-piece lids, check out my tutorial).

Having canned a bit in these jars over the last few weeks, I can tell you that they perform beautifully. They are true to size, strong, and seal well. I also really appreciate the fact that the slightly square shape offers up four smooth sides for labeling. If I were canning for a baby or wedding shower, I’d stock up on the half pint size, order some custom labels from CanningCrafts, and offer up the prettiest party favors this side of Pinterest.

This week, the folks at Fillmore are sponsoring our giveaway. One lucky winner will get a case of the Anchor Hocking jars (jar size is winner’s choice), a dozen lids and rings, and a $25 gift card, good on the Fillmore Container website (perhaps you’ll want to use it to get a copy of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars!). This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor. Their participation my sponsorship program helps keep this website afloat. They sent the jars pictured in this post for review and photography purposes and are also contributing the prize, both at no cost to me. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here remain entirely my own.

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