The Wide Mouth Pint & Half Jars Are Back!

If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you’ve surely heard me wax poetic about my beloved 24 ounce jars. These wide mouth jars hold a pint and a half and are the perfect size for canning asparagus, storing leftovers or using to transport iced coffee.

They’ve been out of production for many years now. I have a small stash thanks to a couple lucky eBay scores, but I’ve always wished that Ball would bring them back. I know I’m not the only one who has hoped for such a day.

Well folks, that day has come. A sharp-eyed reader sent me a link over the weekend saying that she’d spotted new Pint & Half Jars on the Sears website. I got in touch with my PR contact at Ball and this morning it was confirmed. The 24 ounce mason jar is back.

They should be available wherever jars are sold in the coming weeks. The list price is $10.85, which is a far sight less expensive that what the vintage versions go for. Make sure to encourage your local retailers to order this size so that Ball sees how much we value it.

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A Visit to Korin + Giveaway

Korin

This is just one side of the knife section. There is an equally extensive display on the opposite wall.

Last Wednesday, I hopped on a double decker Megabus and rode to New York in order to learn about knives. Many months ago, I’d gotten an email inviting me to visit Korin, a Japanese tableware and knife store and finally the day had arrived for my trip. As a fan of good kitchen knives, I was incredibly excited to learn a little more about the breadth of knives available out there.

Korin

Located downtown near City Hall, Korin has been in the business of knives and tableware for 30 years. A family operation, the store was initially open only by appointment to the restaurant trade (they currently work with the likes of Nobu, Grammercy Tavern and Per Se) but in recent years, the shop has been open daily to the public as well.

Korin

In addition to selling an incredibly vast array of knives and tableware, they also offer sharpening services using a variety of Japanese water stones. They can sharpen and repair nearly any type or style of knife, save those with a serrated edge. Having seen what they were able to do with some of my more beat-up knives, I am a true believer as to what a good sharpening can do. There is no one that I know of in Philadelphia producing this level of edge quality. Happily, you can mail your knives to Korin should you not live near enough to drop in for sharpening.

Korin

Korin sells Western-style knives, traditional Japanese knives and a Japanese-Western hybrid. The difference between these knives is in the edge. Western edges are sharpened so that they have a symmetrical edge. This offers a blade that is fairly durable and relatively easy to maintain. Japanese knives are traditionally sharpened on just one side of the knife. This makes for an incredibly sharp edge, but not as easy for the home cook to maintain.

Korin

This is Knife Master Sugai, demonstrating the proper sharpening technique.

Then there’s the hybrid knife. Made of thin, high-grade steel, the edge is sharpened to an asymmetrical edge that leads to a sharper, more durable blade. The only issue with selecting a knife with an asymmetrical edge is if you have multiple cooks in your household who have different dominant hands. These knives are sharpened differently for righties and lefties. Just something to keep in mind.

Korin

This incredibly long blade is designed to be used to break down whole tuna. It's a two-person operation. One maneuvers the knife and the other moves the tuna.

One of the things that my hosts stressed when showing me through the knives was the fact that in Japanese culinary culture, there are different knives for different tasks. The giant knife with the extended blade in this picture? It is designed for cutting soba noodles. Thicker blades are designated for butchering, while thinner ones are for making more precision cut. Blade shapes also vary depending on region and maker.

Korin

One blade that I fell particularly in love with while visiting Korin was the Petty knife. It’s seen as an analog to the paring knife, as it’s both light and highly maneuverable. However, as you can see (it’s pictured below), it’s got a longer blade that you typically find on a Western paring knife. Since introducing it to my kitchen a week ago, it’s rapidly become my favorite knife for quick tasks like slicing up an apple.

Korin

The kind folks at Korin sent me home with two of these Petty knives (if you’re curious, it’s this one), one to keep and one to give away to a reader. If you’re interesting in a chance to win this gorgeous knife, here’s what to do.

  1. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post and tell us about your favorite kitchen tool.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Thursday, March 1, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and will be posted to the blog on Friday, March 2, 2012.
  3. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers.
  4. One entry/comment per person, please.
Disclosure: Korin gave me two knives; one to keep and one for this giveaway. My opinions remain entirely my own. 

Carrot Soup for a February Night

on the way to carrot soup

I have not been doing a good job managing the contents of my refrigerator lately. Last week was Scott’s birthday, which meant that we both ate at home more lavishly than normal and also dined out several times. This break from the ordinary routine threw off the balance of edibles and resulted in aging leftovers and slimy produce.

This afternoon, I spent a little time throwing away anything that was too far gone to be salvaged and making a plan for whatever remained. After taking stock, there were six giant carrots, several onion halves and a baggie of rosemary. Soup seemed the obvious choice.

I chopped the carrots, onions and a sprig of rosemary and cooked them in a bit of butter until the onions started to brown. Then it was just a matter of covering the veg with stock (one quart ham and a pint of chicken, each made nearly a year ago and pressure canned) and simmering until tender.

After that, I used my immersion blender to smooth out the soup with a couple glugs of half and half. During the blending process, I scraped in a little fresh nutmeg and added several generous pinches of salt.

We ate it topped with some little cubes of ham that I found in the freezer and browned, and a few odd slices of toast.

One of the things I love about pureed soups is that they’re incredibly forgiving. They don’t demand perfection and are entirely willing to flex in order to absorb whatever needs to be used at the moment. In a lifetime where I constantly feel like I’m running to catch up, I appreciate a meal that adapts.

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Finding Equipment: Fishs Eddy in New York City

Canning section at Fishs Eddy in New York.

One of the joys of living in Philadelphia is that it’s possible to do things like pop up to New York for the day. Yesterday, I did just that.

I went up to spend some time at Korin, a store that sells Japanese knives and tableware, to learn a bit about those knives and the art of sharpening (more about that on Monday). While I was there, I took advantage of the unseasonably warm February weather to explore the city a bit.

During my rambling walk, I came across Fishs Eddy. I’ve known of this store for years now, but never managed to fit a visit into previous NYC visits. Happily, I had few time constraints yesterday and so was able to pop in. What did I see almost immediately upon setting foot in the store? A thoroughly stocked selection of canning jars! They carry nearly every jar in production, save my beloved wide mouth half pint.

They are a bit pricier than you’ll find in less populated areas of the country, but that’s ones of the facts of life in Manhattan. And if you’ve been hunting for those fabulous half gallon jars to hold your dry goods, you can buy a single here for less than $4. Definitely cheaper that fancy canisters and just as serviceable.

Fishs Eddy
889 Broadway at 19th Street
New York City, NY 10003
fishseddy.com

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Canning 101: On Adjusting for Altitude

Columbia River Gorge hills

One thing I rarely mention in my recipes is the necessity to adjust cooking and processing times if you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level. I don’t bring it up often because even in my 20th floor apartment, I don’t come close to being that high up (the bulk of Philadelphia is at sea level and the highest portion of the city doesn’t go more than 500 feet above sea level).

Thing is, not all of you live in my lovely city and so elevation is something you do need to keep in mind. The reason it has an impact in canning is that once you get more than 1,000 feet above sea level, the temperature at which water boils gets lower (there’s a calculator here that allows you to plug in your altitude and get your specific boiling point).

If you use a thermometer to monitor the progress of your preserves, you don’t have to do too much to adjust during cooking. Just know that when your jam comes to a boil, it could still be a few degrees shy of 212° and may still have quite a way to go before reaching its set point.

However, elevation has more of an impact on the processing of preserves because once water boils, it can’t get any hotter. This means that even if your canning pot is happily boiling away, it might not be as hot as you think. The way that the USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation has you compensate for this temperature differential is by increasing processing time. Here’s the guide for making these adjustments.

1,001 to 3,000 feet, add 5 minutes
3,001 to 6,000 feet, add 10 minutes
6,001 to 8,000 feet, add 15 minutes
8,001 to 10,000 feet, add 20 minutes

If you live above 1,000 feet, you also have to adjust the amount of pressure you apply during pressure canning. The rule of thumb is that you need an additional 1/2 pound of pressure for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level. If you have a weighted gauge canner, you’ll just use the 15 pounds of pressure setting for any recipe that calls for 10.

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Food in Jars Classes in the March Issue of Country Living

country living

When I was growing up, one of the few magazines that my mom subscribed to was Country Living (she also got Newsweek each week thanks to her step-father, but that one wasn’t nearly as interesting to me). She loved the spreads of rustic antiques and because I loved anything she did, I’d pour over them with her. I believe the seeds of my jar love were planted during those days.

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Many months ago, an editor from Country Living sent me an email, asking for some details on my classes. I gave her all the information I could, all the while buzzing with excitement that I might just make it into the pages of this magazine that I’d spent so many hours with.

Earlier today, I heard that the March issue was on shelves and that my classes had made the cut (thanks so much for the tip, Ashley!). I raced over to my neighborhood Barnes and Noble and flipped through the pages until I found the spread. I snuck in to the corner and took a couple photos right then and there. It’s just a little mention, but still thrills me to the core. Make sure to take a peek!

Also, in other news, I’m hosting a MOO.com business card giveaway over on my personal blog, Apartment 2024. If that’s something you might be interested in, please click over to enter.

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