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Giveaway: Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer

Five years ago, I wrote about the Roma by Weston Brands. It was the first electric tomato strainer I’d ever encountered and it totally changed how I preserved tomatoes. I went from someone who did mostly whole, peeled tomatoes to someone who did 30 or 40 quarts of puree each season.

As much as I loved it, that original model did have some issues. The body was so light that when you pushed the tomatoes through, it would tilt precariously (a problem I remedied by perching my elbow on the body to keep it level). It also splattered badly when you pushed the tomatoes through, because there was nothing covering the screen.

I am delighted to say that Weston Brands has thoroughly redesigned their electric tomato press and this new model (the Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer) is terrific. The body is heavier and less prone to tipping. There’s a screen cover to prevent splatter. It has a 250 watt motor which flies through food. It can go in reverse if something gets stuck. And it assembles so easily.

For my unit’s maiden voyage, I used it to quickly puree applesauce (it’s still a little early to be doing tomato sauce around here). I quartered every apple in the house, heaped them in a big pot (peels and cores included), and cooked them until soft. Once I started, it took all of five minutes to mill all those apples.

If you’re looking for something to make your tomato preservation easier, I definitely recommend it! This week, I’m giving away one Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer to a lucky Food in Jars reader. I hope it transforms your tomato process as much as it did mine. The giveaway is open to US residents only. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Weston Brands provided the review unit you see pictured here at no cost to me and are also providing a second giveaway unit. All opinions are my own.

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Giveaway: OXO Jam Making Essentials

Are you on the search for equipment to elevate your jam making game? Look no further than these tools from OXO and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a set!

I often think of July as the pinnacle of the jam making season. It is the moment when berries, peaches, currants, cherries, plums, and even early apples are all competing for space at markets and in our kitchens. I find that the secret to being able to make the most of the abundance is to be prepared with sturdy, durable equipment. To that end, I’ve teamed up with my friends at OXO to show you some gear that can help make your jam making efforts a little easier.

Most critical is a good pot to cook your jam. Some people like using copper preserving pans while others prefer enameled cast iron. While those are both good, my preference is always a low, wide, stainless steel pan that can hold about 8 quarts. Stainless steel is a non-reactive metal, so it will never impart a metallic flavor into your preserves (copper is reactive and can leave your jam tasting tinny if you don’t use enough sugar).

Stainless steel is also the most forgiving surface. If you burn your jam in an enameled cast iron pot, you might be able to soak and scrub the burned spot off, but the finish will never be the same. When you burn in stainless steel, elbow grease and steel wool will eventually make you whole again.

Right now, the jam pan in constant rotation in my kitchen is the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Pro 8 Quart Covered Casserole (OXO | Amazon). It is similar is size, shape, volume, and performance to my favorite All-Clad jam pan, but at a third of the price. I often briefly simmer small stone fruit and let them cool before pitting to make the process easier, and the glass lid makes it easy to see when to turn off the heat. It’s also got volume markers up the side of the interior, which helps you have an idea of what your yield is going to be. All in all, it’s an excellent pan.

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Giveaway: Decorative Lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

An assortment of decorative lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

In my household, mason jars are our default vessels. Canning is certainly one of their primary uses, but we also employ them for storing leftovers, corralling LEGO collections, stashing office supplies, arranging flowers, and displaying rocks gathered on vacation. They are truly all-purpose containers.

Decorative lid with grab handle from Mason Jar Lifestyle

One issue that I’ve run into in the past when using mason jars for all manner of things is that sometimes, you get weird olfactory cross-contamination when it comes to the lids (ask me what happens when you store Q-Tips under a lid that once protected pickles).

Assortment of decorative grab handle lids

To keep this weirdness at bay, I’ve got a small assortment of decorative lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle that are not designed for food use. This means I keep them expressly for all the other things that I stash in jars, thus keeping the cotton balls free of relish memories and ready to serve another day. They also can fit over the flat lids on most jars, if you want to use them to dress up jars you’re giving as gifts.

Decorative flower frog jar lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

If you find yourself in the market for decorative lids, I highly recommend checking out the assortment that Mason Jar Lifestyle sells. They’ve got everything from lids with vintage styling (galvanized or oil-rubbed), lids with handles (you can tuck a flat canning lid into these if you are desperate to use them in your pantry), flower frogs, and so much more.

Decorative lid with grab handle from Mason Jar Lifestyle

This week, I’m giving away two sets of decorative lids (winners get to choose an assortment of eight lids) here on the blog and another set over on Instagram. Make sure to enter in both places to increase your chances of winning!

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Disclosure: Mason Jar Lifestyle is a Food in Jars partner and this giveaway is a component of our partnership. Their continued sponsorship helps keep this blog afloat. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.

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Giveaway: Printable Jar Labels from Worldlabel

Looking for affordable, beautiful labels for your canning jars that you can easily customize and print at home? Look no further than Worldlabel!

I confess that when it comes to labeling jars, I can be a bit lazy. My first line of labeling defense is typically a quick scrawl with a permanent marker. I write the contents of the jar and the month and year it was made across the top of the lid. This is done to ensure that I keep things like tomato jam separate from the pizza sauce (two preserves that look nearly identical once in the jar).

Often, my first act of labeling is also my last. I’ve been known to give these unadorned jars to my cousins and neighbors without a second though. However, as I move further into my life as a canner (this is my 11th active canning season! The mind boggles!), I find that I do really like having the option of giving people preserves with more detail on the label.

I’ve also been considering the possibility of making limited edition batches to sell, which would require nicer labeling that I currently can muster.

Happily, just as I was pondering ways to up my label game, I got an email from the folks at Worldlabel. They sell a huge assortment of blank labels that can be endlessly customized. They’ve got lots of templates that you can use to design your own labels, or you can use their assortment of free, pre-designed printable label templates.

I wanted to keep things simple for my first attempt at creating my own labels and decided that I would simply make Food in Jars logo stickers that I could use to dress up my jars (and potentially also use to dress up the packages of books I occasionally send out).

The folks at Worldlabel sent me 2 inch round labels (in both white and craft) and rectangular shipping labels (also in white and craft). I opted to try the white rounds first and headed over to Worldlabel to find the right template. They offer them in a variety of file formats (Word, PDF, Illustrator, etc) and identifying the one I needed was really easy.

Once I had the right file, I opened it up in Word (I am not a designer), and dropped in my logo file. I had to do a little bit of tweaking, but it wasn’t hard. Then, it was just a matter of saving and printing.

I’m pretty pleased with how approachable it was and how cute my labels look.

Now, if you don’t have a cute logo to drop into a template, fret not. The folks at Worldlabel have a really robust assortment of already-designed labels that you can download and print at home. They also curate a highly useful Pinterest page where they collect free printables that will work with their labels.

I think my finished labels turned out really well and I can’t wait to start using them. And while the company did send me this package of labels at no cost so that I could play around with them, 100 sheets of these labels costs just $18.75. That works out to less than $.19 a sheet, which is pretty darn accessible for even the tightest budgets (far cheaper than the name brands you get at office supply stores).

Because Worldlabel wants to help canners feel empowered to create their own labels, they’re also sponsoring a giveaway. Five lucky readers will each win 20 sheets of labels that they can customize. Use the widget below to enter!

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Worldlabel paid to appear in this space and provided the labels pictured above at no cost to me. All thoughts and opinions are honestly conveyed and entirely my own.

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Comestible: A Print Journal About Food

Years ago now, on a visit to Western Mass, a friend and I sat around her dining room table and dreamed of creating a scrappy journal dedicated to home cooking and eating. It was going to be in the spirit of the zines of our youth, would be published a few times a year, and would strive to build community and pay its writers.

As you might guess, we never managed to pull this concept from dreamspace into reality. However, fellow food writer Anna Brones imagined a publication along similar lines and has brought hers into being. Called Comestible and launched in 2016, it is a 100% reader supported publication, with no advertisements. Printed twice a year, each issue is 64 pages, 5.25 x 7.75 inches and printed on recycled, FSC-certified paper in the Pacific Northwest.

Each issue includes original stories, artwork, and recipes. The spring/summer issue that’s currently available (and is pictured throughout this blog post), features work along the theme of reclaiming and includes stories by Andrea Bemis, Sara Bir, and many others.

You can order the current issue, buy back copies, and pick up prints of Anna’s paper cut art work here.

You should also head over to my Instagram account, because this week I’m giving away a 2018 subscription to Comestible. The winner will get the issue featured here, as well as the fall/winter edition (it will arrive in October).

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Cookbooks: Eating From the Ground Up

I the kind of cook who tucks vegetables into nearly everything I cook. My turkey chili always includes wilted Swiss chard. I prefer my eggs perched on a bed of sauteed spinach or zucchini. And if I’m making a sandwich, I pile it high with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and ribbons of carrot. This habit of mine doesn’t always thrill my husband (he grew up with a mother who was less of a produce pusher than mine), but after 10+ years together, he’s gotten used to it.

All that said, I confess to having a somewhat limited repertoire of vegetable dishes. I rotate through steaming, roasting, and sauting most things. This gets the job done, but can lead to a certain weariness. However, recently my vegetable cookery has received a much-needed shot in the arm.

This is all thanks to Alana Chernila’s gorgeous new book, Eating From the Ground Up. Many of you might be familiar with Alana’s previous books, The Homemade Pantry and The Homemade Kitchen, as well as her blog (it shares a name with this new book).

What I love about this book is that it tackles vegetables from a number of different directions, all with delicious results. The book opens with a section entitled Barely Recipes. These are ideal for busy weeknights, when you need to get dinner on the table and value speed and flavor.

After that, you’ll find A Pot of Soup (filling and deeply savory), Too Hot to Cook (perfect for deep summer, when it doesn’t take much to make a flavorful meal), Warmth and Comfort (many of these make a main dish out of veg), and the final chapter, Celebrations and Other Excuses to Eat With Your Hands (with a title like that, it needs no additional description).

This book should be on your shelf if you keep a backyard garden, shop farmers markets, subscribe to a CSA share, or simply love vegetables. It’s one that I know I’ll turn to again and again.

Thanks to Clarkson Potter, I have a copy of this lovely book to giveaway this week. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book and the giveaway copy at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided and all opinions are entirely my own.

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