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Washington State Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums

Every summer for the last eight years, I’ve teamed up with the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. As one of their Canbassadors, they send me boxes of fruit. I take those cherries, peaches, nectarines, and plums into my kitchen and then share how I transform them into various batches of jams, pickles, butters, compotes, and conserves.

This year, they sent me three separate shipments of fruit. In late June, it was 18 pounds of sweet, juicy cherries. At the beginning of August, two flats of fragrant peaches and nectarines. And right around Labor Day, a box of sturdy Italian plums (they are a perennial favorite in my kitchen).

I made a bunch of really great stuff with all this fruit, but as the intensity of the summer ratcheted up, I’ve not done as good a job at getting those recipes from my kitchen scratch pad to this site. So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve created individual posts for each of the unshared recipes (to make them more easily searchable) and then I’ve rounded them all up here. Much of these are out of season for this year, but perhaps you’ll remember one or two for next year.

Cherries

Peaches and Nectarines

Italian Plums

And for anyone who’s keeping track, here’s what I’ve made in past years with my Canbassador fruit.

If you want to see what some of the other Canbassadors have done this year, make sure to follow the Washington State Fruit and Northwest Cherries folks on social media, as they’ve been sharing all the posts. Here’s where you can find them.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

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Preserving with Mrs. Wages Pickled Okra and Vegetables Mix

This post is written in partnership with my friends at Mrs. Wages. Hope you enjoy!

This is it, friends. The last big push of the summer canning season. This is the time of year when I do things like make big vats of peach butter (cooking down as I type), scramble to get my hands on the last of the tomatoes, and I take canning help wherever I can get it.

Recently, one of my favorite canner helpers is the Pickled Okra and Vegetables spice mix from Mrs. Wages. It came to my rescue last week, when I was short on time and creativity, but had produce spilling out all over my kitchen.

The beauty of a mix like this is that is allows me to put myself on auto-pilot and just follow the instructions written on the back of the packet.

With this recipe, you prep all the veg. I used carrots, okra, cauliflower, and peppers, just like the instructions told me.

While you’re working breaking down your vegetables into pleasingly similarly sized bits, you pour a bunch of vinegar into a large pot and bring it to a boil.

Look at those peppers! Aren’t they pretty?

This packet makes seven quarts of pickles, so make sure you have a canning pot warming and your jars are prepped.

When your veg is chopped, your jars are warming, and the vinegar is boiling, add the spice mix to the pot.

You can either toss your vegetables together in a big bowl and pack them into jars, or you can heap them into the brine and warm them up a bit (this transforms the pickle into a hot pack preserve, and helps you squeeze a bit more produce into your jars).

Once the veg and brine is divided between the prepared jars, you wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process. And boom, seven quarts of colorful, delicious pickles (I took a jar to a party last week and they were a big old hit).

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Bake a Difference with OXO For Cookies for Kids’ Cancer + Oatmeal Muffins

It’s that time of year again, when the folks at OXO host a blogger campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. The goal is to help raise both awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. For every blogger who dedicates a post to the topic, they donate $100 to the cause.

I participated last year, sharing my story of losing a friend to cancer when I was in middle school, and making a batch of tasty cookie bars from Dorie’s Cookies.

This year, I’m offering up a batch of muffins rather than cookies, thankfully, I’m told that they’ll still count. And if you missed Shianne’s story last year, consider hopping over to that blog post to read it.

OXO sent me their Non-Stick Pro 12 Cup Muffin Pan, a dozen Silicone Baking Cups, and Baker’s Decorating Tool and told me to be creative. I spent a little time worrying about doing that decorating tool justice before realizing that one should always write what they know (as it were).

And so I opted to adapt a simple oatmeal muffin recipe from the classic and invaluable King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and use the filling tip on the decorating tool to give them a plum butter center. It worked better than I’d even hoped. Next time I’m invited to a brunch potluck, I know what I’ll be bringing!

I’m not someone who typically goes in for fancy decorations on baked goods of any stripe (I’d be a terrible contestant on the Great British Bake Off), and so it was my first experience using a decorating tool. I was happy to discover that it was really intuitive to use and fun to booth. I predict that there will be more jam-filling and piped frosting in my future thanks to this devise.

Oh, and if you don’t have a nifty tool for filling your muffins with jam, they would be equally good if you split them and simply gave them a healthy dollop.

Disclosure: OXO sent me the tools you see above. No additional compensation was provided for this post. 

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Giveaway: Mrs. Wages Pickle Sampler Pack

This week’s Pickle Sampler giveaway comes to us from long-time Food in Jars sponsor Mrs. Wages. I’ve been doing a bit of work with the folks from Mrs. Wages for the last seven(!) years and one element of our annual partnership is that they always offer up one or two awesome baskets of their mixes, spices, and starters for me to give away to my wonderful readers. This summer is no exception!

This is the first of two baskets of canning helpers that I’ll be giving away from Mrs. Wages this summer. This basket contains nearly every pickle product that Mrs. Wages makes, which should delight the pickle lovers. Here’s exactly what’s in the basket.

To enter for a chance to win this basket of pickle making goodness, please use the widget below. Open to US and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Mrs. Wages is a Food in Jars sponsor and so contributes to the ongoing operation of this site. This giveaway is part of our annual partnership.

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Quick Pickled Apple Matchsticks & OXO Chef’s Mandoline

I got my first CSA share of the season a week ago, and in addition to the other spring vegetables like snap peas and breakfast radishes, it came with an enormous head of red butter lettuce, an unwieldy bunch of kale, dandelion greens, and bags of spicy arugula and mixed salad greens. You will not be at all surprised to hear that we’ve been eating a lot of salads lately.

Thought I eat salads all year round, I think of this time of year as the true salad season, and as such, I like to outfit my fridge accordingly. I work up a few easy things that can enhance all those greens and make it simple to shake together tasty little batches of vinaigrettes.

This spring, I’m particularly digging these quick pickled apple matchsticks. The are bright, tangy, and crunchy. In combination with a tangle of greens, some soft goat cheese, a few toasted walnuts, and a drizzle of olive oil, they make an incredibly pleasing salad.

The nice folks from OXO recently sent me one of their new Chef’s Mandoline Slicers to try out and it makes slicing apples for this quick pickle such a pleasure. Unlike other mandolines, where you have to manually change out different blades in order to create matchsticks, you simply turn a knob to dial up the julienne blade. What’s more, the guard is designed to wrap around the piece of food that you’re slicing, making the whole slicing act feel safer than any other mandoline I’ve used.

The same knob that allows you to move the julienne tines into place also adjusts the thickness of the cut. This means that you can select thickness settings in 0.5-mm intervals, which is an unusual amount of control for a mandoline that is priced under $100 (this one sells for $79.99). You can also select straight and wavy blades, and a French fry blade. There’s not much in the slicing realm that this mandoline can’t do.

If you’re still making bread and butter pickles with your grandmother’s rusty wavy slicer, consider giving yourself an upgrade this year. Your pickles will be more consistent and will come together in record time!
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Sprouted Wheat Berries in Excalibur 5-Tray Dehydrator

Some months back now, my friend Audra spread the word that she was ordering bulk grains and other dry goods from her favorite organic suppler. Her hope was to spread the word about this very good way to get high quality food and to get the total weight of the order high enough to qualify for discounted shipping.

I took her up on the call and ordered 25 pounds of hard winter wheat berries. My goal was to improve my bread baking habit with the addition of sprouted and freshly ground flour. Of course, when I committed to 25 pounds of wheat berries, I’d never sprouted or ground my own flour before. But I had enthusiasm, a vast array of cookbooks, and all the internet at my disposal. What could go wrong?

The truthful answer is that actually, there’s not a whole lot that can go wrong, but as is the case with many new things, I did have a few missteps. The first time I tried to sprout a batch of wheat berries, I left them in the soaking water too long and they developed a funky smell, akin to stinky feet.

And I’ve also learned that I really need to get a few of these non-stick sheets to prevent the wheat berries from falling off the dehydrator trays as they dry and shrink a little. Both are relatively low prices to pay in pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding!

I’ve been using my new, fancy 5-tray Excalibur to dehydrate the berries once they’ve been soaked and sprouted and that part couldn’t be easier. I love that I can set both the time and temperature so precisely. I run it at 112F to preserve the enzymatic activity of the wheat (a useful thing if you’re working with a sourdough starter), so appreciate how easy it is to dial in that exact temperature.

Now, you might be wondering why I’d take the time to soak, sprout, and dehydrate my wheat before grinding it into flour. The primary reason is that it helps make it easier to digest. Secondarily, I find that it grinds more readily (which is good, since I’m using the KitchenAid Grain Mill, and the unsprouted grain made the motor work really hard).

If you find yourself intrigued by the idea of homemade sprouted wheat flour, here’s how you do it.

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