Thanks to all of your for your comments! I’m so delighted to have helped demystify the process of making marmalade for so many of you.
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I’m just tickled that so many of you liked my canning gift guide (and the attached giveaway). Thanks for all the terrific comments! (There are a lot of Weck lovers in the crowd!)
The winner of the giveaway was Annie, who’s comment made me laugh when I went to match the random number up with the winning name. She said, “Great stuff, Marisa. Thank you! Can’t wait for the generator to spit out my number!” Well Annie, spit out your number it did. I’ll be emailing you shortly to get your details!
Still to come this week I’ll have at least two (if not three, depending on how demanding my day job is) more “Gift in a Jar” posts, as well as my local meal for the Dark Days Challenge. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear how your holiday preparations are going (I passed out jars of Apple-Cranberry Jam, Apple Butter and the Rosemary-Maple Nuts at my family’s Hanukkah party last night to a crowd of excited cousin)s.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about what you preservers out there can put in jars and gift to your friends and loved ones. However, I think that you all also deserve a few treats under the tree or menorah*. Here’s are a few of my favorite canning helpers, from cookbooks, to the best floursack towels out there, to my very favorite 2-quart measuring cup. My thought is that you can send a link to this post to a generous spouse, parent or best friend with a note that says, “I’d like number 2, please!”
Additionally, as my way of saying thank you to all of you who keep coming back, leaving comments and generally making the process of writing this blog a joy, I’m going to be giving away one of those 2-quart measuring cups. Mine’s an older model, but I find that I use this vessel more than any other bowl in my kitchen. This giveaway will be open for entry until Saturday, December 12th at 11:59 p.m. Just leave a comment to enter (one entry per person, winner to be picked via the random number generator).
Starting from the top left corner…
1. Putting Up: A Seasonal Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition This is one of the best canning books out there and is great for beginners, as it contains all the instruction you need to get started canning.
2. A Stainless Steel Jar Funnel. I like the metal ones better than plastic. Looks better and is sturdier in the long run.
3. Weck Canning Jars. These European jars are beautiful and functional. Extra thoughtful gift givers will also pick up a set of plastic snap-on lids, which turns these into the best leftover vessels I know.
4. A Set of Graduated Measuring Scoops. I prefer using a 1-cup measure like the one pictured when filling jars with hot jam. It gives greater control than a ladle does, and is the exact right amount for a half pint jar. The rest of the measuring cups are useful too.
5. Floursack Towels. Canning can be messy business so it’s always good to have a stack of clean towels on hand. I like these white floursack towels, as they are absorbent, fairly lintless and can be bleached clean when you’re all done cooking.
6. Ball Utensil Kit. This is an easy way to get a new canner started, or to help an experienced preserver refresh their collection of tools (that jar lifter takes a beating after years of use).
7. My Beloved 2-Quart Measuring Cup. I think I’ve said enough about this item. I just love it.
8. A Good, Sharp Knife. I’m a big fan of my Global, but any sturdy, sharp knife will do. When you’re processing a bushel or two of fruit, you want to use the best tool for the job.
9. A Roomy Stock Pot. Instead of buying a pot designed expressly for canning, invest in a good stock pot. That way, it can also work as your pasta or soup pot. But slip a rack in the bottom and voila, it’s a canning pot.
10. Wide Mouth Half-Pint Jars. I adore these squat, easy to fill jars. For some reason, they’ve become impossible to find in stores (I often order a couple dozen and keep them stashed under my couch, for when they’re the only jar that will do).
What are your favorite canning tools? What would you like to see under the tree?
*Yes, I do know that Hanukkah gifts don’t go under the menorah.
We’ve got a winner in the Chocolate for Breakfast giveaway. The randomizer selected #6, which is commenter Apple Tree, who’s husband has been inspired to can of late in part by this site (I do love hearing such things). I’ll be in touch and will ship the book out to you soon.
Coming later this week: homemade butter, pickled daikon and honey sweetened applesauce.
I’m a little later than I’d hoped in getting up the pear butter winner, but having one’s wedding just five days away tends to derail even the most heart-felt intentions. However, I do have a winner to announce and it’s none other than “Another Marisa,” the commenter who has renamed herself so as not to get confused with me. Yay Marisa! I’ll be emailing you shortly to get all your details so that I get you this butter sooner rather than later.
Now, I want to warn you all that posting is going to be sort of poky for the next couple of weeks or so. I’m getting married to my favorite guy this coming Saturday and so my brain is almost entirely filled with last-minute details, travel schedules and a concerted effort to shake the cold that’s been trying to gain foothold in my sinuses. I have a post on canning whole tomatoes that I’m going to try and get up before the big day, but I make no promises.
However, I do want to say, for those of you who are still battling the zucchini glut, that they make wonderful, if slightly less crisp pickles. I made a batch of seven pints recently, using the exact same brine that I use for my garlic dills and they are wonderful. They are particularly good in sandwiches, because they are a bit more yielding to the tooth than many cucumber pickles. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by squash, it’s a good way to conquer at least three or four good-sized zukes (yellow squash also works).
Three cheers for Whitney, who’s number came up in the Raspberry Jam giveaway last night. She’s a lucky girl, as it’s very, very good stuff.
* * * * * *
Last Friday, I had the day off from work, and so my friend Shay and I took a drive out to Lancaster, to look for jars for my wedding (we’re planting tiny herb plants in a variety of jars as gifts for our guests) and visit her parents. I found an amazing cache of jelly jars (the ones that you can’t really use anymore, as they were designed to be sealed with wax) for $.15 each at the thrift store in Mount Joy, which got me much closer to the needed 60 jars. I also returned home with a 2 1/2 gallon ziptop bag, stuffed absolutely full of basil from Shay’s mom Ty’s garden.
Ty hasn’t had the greatest tomato year because of all the rain we’ve gotten, but it’s been a stellar year for basil production. Her herb garden is absolutely bursting with fragrant, vividly green basil. No matter how much I cut, it was nearly impossible to make a visible dent. So Friday night, I made an improvised pesto. I used lots of garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese, but skipped the nuts (I didn’t have any pine nuts, and determined that I wanted this basil sauce of mine to be as flexible as possible). I ran my food processor for nearly half an hour and came away with more than four pints of pesto (that’s a hell of a lot). I packed it into 4- and 8-ounce jars (leaving plenty of headspace) and tucked it into the freezer.
I’m so looking forward to adding it to pastas, soups and eating it spread on bread all winter long.
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