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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).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sprouted Almonds in an Excalibur 5-Tray Dehydrator

Dehydration has long been one of the tools in my food preservation toolbox. I like to dehydrate herbs and ramp leaves, make tasty marinated and dried tomatoes, and put up some of my precious Meyer lemons by drying slices for future rehydration.

Recently, my dehydration game improved by several notches. The folks at Excalibur sent me one of their 5-tray dehydrators. It’s a huge step up from the stackable models I’ve used for so long. I’m totally delighted by it and have spent the last few weeks drying all the things.

It’s got five large trays that slide in and out (meaning no more working around a central column!) and that add up to a total of eight square feet in drying space. It has a digital control panel that allows me to set both the precise temperature (between 95◦F to 165◦F) and the duration of the drying session. And it’s relatively quiet (as far as dehydrators go, at least).

Truly, the only issue I have with it is that it’s kind of a beast in terms of its footprint. I don’t mind that, but it does mean that I’ve had to start running it in my living room, because it doesn’t fit comfortably in my kitchen. However, it’s a trade-off I’m very happy to make.

One of the first things I made with my fancy new Excalibur was a batch of sprouted almonds. I first tasted such a thing six years ago when I was staying with my sister in Texas and we were waiting for her first baby to be born. We were doing laundry at her friend’s house and while we waiting, she headed for their pantry and brought out a jar of almonds.

Different from almonds I’d eaten, these were crunchy and hollow on the inside. Raina explained that they were sprouted (and were wickedly expensive at their local co-op). I hurried to put the jar away before we ate all of them and filed the idea away to try and make them myself someday.

Fast forward six years and they’re a regular homemade favorite. They’re not hard to make (and truly, can be done even if you don’t have an dehydrator. But they’re better and easier this way because you can set them up and forget them for most of a day) and are so very delicious. You start by combining one tablespoon of salt with four cups of warm water and letting the salt dissolve.

Then you add two cups of raw almonds and let them soak overnight (don’t let them soak more than about 12 hours. After that, they start to ferment and get a little sour). The next day, you drain the almonds and arrange them on a dehydrator tray. Then you set it to 150◦F and let them do for 12-24 hours, until the almonds are completely dry. Once they’re dry, you funnel them into a jar and snack away.

Now, soaking and dehydrating almonds does also have the added benefit of making the almonds more nutritious and easily digested. But my primary motivation is the fact that it makes them so delicious.

Next week, I’m going to show you guys how I soak, sprout, dehydrate, and grind wheatberries into flour! But for now, I’d love to hear about your dehydrating experiences! Do you have one? What’s your favorite thing to make in it?

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Giveaway: Lock Eat Jars from Luigi Bormioli

Lock Eat jars from from Luigi Bormioli are the first jars designed with both canning and serving in mind.

Lock Eat jars with their brand embossing

You might not know this about me, but I get positively giddy when I discover new canning jars. The most recent line of jars to send me over the moon? The Lock Eat jars from Luigi Bormioli. They are sleek, easy to use, and have a very pleasing heft to them.

An assortment of sizes of the Lock Eat jars.

They’re the first jars designed with the understanding that they will have multiple uses in our homes. They work beautifully for all manner of boiling water bath canning, but are also perfect for portable meals. The lid detaches completely and once removed, you’re left with a smooth container that’s ideal for yogurt, grain salads, and smoothies.

Lock Eat jars designed for holding juice

They come in two different shapes, and a number of sizes. The juice jar shape is available in 8.5, 20.5, and 34 ounces, and the straight-sided jars hold 2.75, 4.25, 6.75, and 11.5 ounces. All the Lock Eat jars are made in Italy, and are safe for both the microwave (once the lid is removed) and the dishwasher.

A GIF of how to securely close Lock Eat jars.

The lid is really easy to lock into place as well. Holding the base of the jar firmly, you just push the stainless steel arm down until it slides into position.

Lock Eat jars in a canning pot

I’ve had a small assortment of the Lock Eat jars in my kitchen for a little over a month now and have used them for leftovers, dry good storage, packed lunches and canning. So far, I like them a whole lot.

Hot Lock Eat jars ready to be filled

Using them for canning feels very much like processing preserves in Weck jars. Before you start making your preserve, arrange your selected jars in a canning pot (I’m using the Lagostina Martellata pasta pot here – more on that next week). Remove the rubber seals from the lids and arrange the glass lids in the pot as well. Bring to a boil. In a separate pot, simmer the rubber seals to soften.

Lock Eat jars filled with grape jelly.

Once your preserve is ready, remove the jars from the canner and fill them to the bottom of the solid glass band that runs around the top of the jars. This is a little more headspace than one leaves when working with mason jars, but it makes sense once you remember that the lid sits in the body of the jar and so takes up some of the header space.

The lid of a Lock Eat jar

Once the jars are filled, you ease the rubber seals back onto the lids, taking care to ensure that the tab is positioned so that it won’t be in the way of the latch when you go to lock the lids into place.

Three filled and closed Lock Eat jars

Then you wipe the rims and the top interior of the jars, place the lids onto the jars and carefully lock the lids into place.

(If you’re curious about the contents of these jars, check back tomorrow, when I’ll be sharing a recipe for low sugar grape jelly.)

The Lock Eat jars play nicely with regular jar lifters, provided that you take care to place the lifter on the sides of the jars, rather than get them tangled up with the lid latch. Set them into your canning pot and process as your recipe instructs.

Using a jar lifter to move Lock Eat jars

Once the processing time is up, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. Once the jars are completely cool, you can check the integrity of your seal by carefully releasing the clamp, grasping the lids, and lifting. If the lids stay firmly in place, the jars are sealed and can be stored in the pantry. As always, any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

The rubber seals can be safely reused for canning as long as they remain springy and in good shape. If they seem to be losing their elasticity, you’ll want to order new ones prior to canning with them again.

Cooled and sealed Lock Eat jars.

Because they want to spread the word about their new jars, the folks at Luigi Bormioli are offering up five sets of Lock Eat jars for this week’s giveaway. Each of the five winners will receive an assortment of 14 food and juice Lock Eat jars, at a retail value of $125.

To learn more about Lock Eat jars and watch a video of them being used for canning, make sure to visit this page on the Luigi Bormioli website. Use the widget below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you like the looks of the Lock Eat jars, you can follow Luigi Bormioli on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #LBandME if you post about them.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Luigi Bormioli sent me the jars you see pictured here and paid a small fee to compensate me for my time and attention. All opinions remain entirely my own. 

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July 4th Picnic: Spiced Blueberries & Goat Brie

reflective spiced blueberries

Blueberries were one of the very first ingredients that Tenaya and I discussed when we first started talking about creating this 4th of July-themed cheese and preserve picnic. They typically come into season in our area in the last days of June and they can be transformed into all sorts of cheese-friendly preserves.

blueberries in a bowl

Instead of making jam, I opted to make blueberries in a highly spiced, slightly tangy syrup. I wouldn’t call them pickled blueberries, because they don’t pack a huge amount of pucker, but they have a small amount of apple cider vinegar in the preserving liquid to ensure that they taste zippy.

cooking blueberries

We paired these blueberries with a round of goats milk brie and it was an awfully good bite. They were also tasty gently mashed into the homemade graham crackers that Tenaya made. One of our friends who came over to help us eat the cheeses and preserves after our shoot was over was of the opinion that they would also make a very nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal. I wouldn’t disagree.

boiling berries

Like many of the recipes I post here, consider the listed spices as mere suggestions. You can change the flavorings without impacting the safety of the finished preserve. These would be equally good with vanilla beans, lightly crushed cardamom pods, or even some dried hot peppers if you like spicy things.

spiced blueberries and goat brie

You should get three pints of berries from this recipe, with approximately 8 to 12 ounces of liquid leftover. There are two really good things to do with this leftover goodness. You can store it in a jar in the fridge for adding to glasses of sparkling water. Or you can cook it down into a thick syrup that you can then drizzle over slices of toast spread thickly with fresh ricotta. The choice is up to you.

open spiced blueberries

More about our celebratory picnic tomorrow!

Continue Reading →

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Cheese and Jam for the 4th of July

cheese and preserve picnic

One of the things that I firmly believe is that my job here as the writer of this website is not just to offer up canning instructions and recipes, but also to offer up suggestions on how to use and enjoy the things you’ve made. After all, there’s no point in preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables if you never open the jars and empty them out again.

cucumber baguette raspberries

To that end, my dear friend Tenaya (aka Madame Fromage) and I dreamed up a little 4th of July picnic to share on our blogs that features a handful of cheeses paired up with preserves, crackers, and a slab of spicy pecan brittle. The cheeses are all from Trader Joe’s, so they’re quite widely accessible, and the preserves are mere suggestions. Feel free to take inspiration from what you already have on hand.

We know that we’re still a couple weeks out from Independence Day, but we figured posting this series now will give you the time to do a little preserving and make a plan for your own celebratory gathering.

three cheeses

All this week, we’ll be posting tidbits from our little cheese and preserve party. Over on her site, you’ll find the recipes for hearty whole wheat graham crackers and an easy shrub sparkler as well as tips on pairing cheeses with various jams, pickles, and other edible delights.

tenaya shooting the table

I’ll be sharing the recipes for the spiced blueberries and the pecan brittle, as well as pointing you to the cherry recipes that would best accompany this board (we used a jar of my sweet cherry chutney in the shoot and it was heavenly with all three cheeses). Make sure to check back all week long for all the celebratory fun.

Oh, and huge thanks to Margeux Kent and Peg & Awl for lending us all the pretty boards you see in the pictures above. I wanted to tuck one or two into my bag, but managed to keep my sticky fingers to myself.

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Butternut Squash Soup Concentrate

quart of butternut puree

Back in December, I roasted a butternut squash in order to make pasta sauce. I ended up with far more puree than I needed for the recipe and so stashed the remaining pint in the fridge. A day or two later, my mother-in-law was over and we were hungry for lunch. I went rummaging and found bread, cheese, and that puree.

butternut squash halves

I scraped the puree out into a small saucepan and added some chicken stock, a little lemon juice for brightness, and a some pepper (I use Better than Bouillon, so the chicken stock had plenty of salt). We ate the soup, toast, and cheese for lunch and both marveled at how good it was.

top of butternut puree

Since them, I’ve made a point of having a jar of butternut squash puree in the fridge for quick lunches. Over the weekend, I roast a butternut or two (the finished puree freezes nicely, so you can always make extra if you’ve got the space) until tender, and scrape off the skin. The warm squash goes into the blender (a food processor also works) with a little water and I puree it until it’s smooth. Then, I spoon the puree into a jar and pop it in the refrigerator.

butternut soup lunch

When I’m ready for lunch, I measure out a cup of the puree into my smallest pot, add a little bit of the chicken Better than Bouillon and about half a cup of water (there’s wiggle room here, depending on your desired soup consistency and how thick your puree was to start). Some days, I’ll add a little lemon zest and juice. Others, I’ll add freshly grated ginger and a little coconut milk. Yogurt, half and half, or sour cream also make really nice additions. As soon as it is warm, lunch is served.

little pot of butternut soup

Now, you might be wondering why I don’t just make a batch of butternut squash soup instead of this concentrate. It comes down to space, flexibility, and shelf life. I find it easier to make space in my fridge for a quart jar of concentrated puree than a larger jar of finished soup. I like that each day, I can make my soup taste a little different (I can also stir a little of the puree into other dishes, if the moment calls for it). And a puree made with nothing beyond squash and water lasts far longer than a soup that’s already been adjusted with dairy products.

Do you have any make-ahead staples that you’re particularly enjoying these days?

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