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Jars on Vacation Ireland Edition

Last month, Scott and I spent 12 days in Ireland. This trip proved to be exactly the vacation we both needed and I came home feeling refreshed in a way that I haven’t been in ages. We spent our time exploring historic sites, walking many miles a day, and eating as much Irish butter as two humans can reasonable hold.

Since Ireland is a very jar-friendly country, I thought it was high time to bring back the Jars on Vacation post. Here are just some of the jar images I shot while away!

Our first night, we stayed at Ghan House in Carlingford. The room had a charming tea service, complete with jar of shortbread cookies. Scott was quite pleased.

The next morning, the breakfast featured a lazy Susan with an impressive nine homemade preserves.

While in Cork, we wandered into Sostrene Grene (a shop I desperately wish would come to the US). I really wanted one of these hobnailed jars, but knew that it would be hard to get home.

Heinz pickles in Belfast. Why don’t we have all these lovely varieties here?

Le Parfait!

Kilner!

All sorts of fermented goodies at the Midleton farmers market.

I wish my canned cherry tomatoes remained so intact!

McClure’s pickles in Ireland!

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New Amber Jars from Ball Canning + Discount Code from Fillmore Container

Curious about the new amber Ball jars? Use the code “BALL5%OFF” on Fillmore Container to get 5% off all Ball jars.

Spring is here! The birds are chirping. Daffodils are blooming. New-born lambs are gamboling. And this year’s line-up of specialty mason jars from Ball Canning are now available.

This year, these specialty jars come in three sizes (pint, quart, and half gallon) and are made of sturdy amber glass. Unlike previous colored jars, these amber ones are designed to block 99% of harmful UV rays, which can help maintain quality, color, and fragrance in preserves, dried herbs, and tinctures.

One thing I like about these jars is that they glass is so opaque that it doesn’t appear to discolor the contents of the jar, it simply conceals (unlike previous generations of colored jars, which left your preserves looking a little sickly).

I also appreciate how thick and sturdy the glass feels (while I haven’t pulled out a measuring device, I believe that the walls might be a bit thicker than in other Ball jars). The only downside to their opacity is that if you use them for canning, you really need to label the jars well, because you’re not going to be able to intuit the contents without opening the jar.

This week, I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container, to show you how these jars perform in a canning situation and offer a discount code (read on!), in case you want to get some of your own. I cooked up a batch of this strawberry ginger jam and processed two of the three pints the recipe made in these new amber jars.

The reason I chose to use these jars for strawberry jam is that it’s a preserve that is notorious for its tendency to discolor, particularly if made with lower amounts of sugar. My hope is that six months from now, these jars will still be vividly bright.

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve teamed up with Fillmore Container to tell you about these new jars, rather than with Ball Canning. The reason is this. Ball isn’t selling jars or appliances directly to consumers anymore. If you’ve been over to Fresh Preserving lately, you might have noticed this.

However, Fillmore Container has one of the largest selections of Ball jars available online (and they are a family-owned company based right here in Pennsylvania), making it easy for you guys to get your hands on these jars.

This week, you can use the code “BALL5%OFF” to get 5% off all the Ball Jars that Fillmore Container sells. This coupon is valid April 23, 2018 through April 30, 2018. You do need to be logged into a user account on the Fillmore Container site for the coupon code to work (an account is free to set up) and the discount does not apply to shipping.

I definitely feel like these amber jars have a place in my kitchen and pantry and I’m happy to have them as an option. What are your thoughts?

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor and provided the jars pictured in this post at no cost to me. 

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Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Deals

Hello friends! For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. We were just four for dinner last night, with a bigger family gathering still to come.

I wanted to take a moment to round up some of the Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals that some of my favorite jar and canning-centric shops are offering.

If I spot any other deals throughout the weekend, I’ll update this post. Happy shopping!

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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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