Foods in Jars on Flickr: Pickles, Peppers, Tomatos and More

Every Sunday evening, I take a break from showing off my preserves and give the rest of you a chance to shine by featuring a few photos from the Food in Jars Flickr group. Here are a few pretties from the last week or two. If you’d like to see your photo featured here, please head over to Flickr, join the group and add your images.

Woodwife peppers, batch #2.

Pickled peppers from Rebecca at Cakewalk. See the recipe and story behind these peppers here.

Canned Crushed Tomatoes, Part II

Twenty-five quarts of crushed tomatoes (there should be a similar spread of tomatoes in my very near future) from Ma Vie En Food.

pickle jones hit me

Washed okra, ready for pickling from Bridgman Pottery. I do love pickled okra (so much so that I made four pints of it during last night’s hurricane. Someone on Twitter coined the practice of putting up during the storm Hurricanning).

Apt. #2

From the description of the photos, from left to right these jars contain, “Sweet Apple Cider Pickled Beets, Dill Pickles, Marinated Red Peppers & Bread n’ Butter Zucchini Coins.” They are the hard work of Jess at Preserving Beauty.

Rose petal jellies

Glowing rose petal jelly made by Aimee. The recipe can be found here.

Raspberry and Razzleberry Jam

Raspberry and Razzleberry jam by Mama Urchin. See the story of how she came to possess just so many raspberries here.


An impressively stocked wall of preserves, all made by Jessica. Descriptions of much of what you see there can be found here.

homemade cola syrup

Homemade cola syrup! Perfect for the soda lover who wants a slightly more virtuous approach to their daily tipple. By Krista, who blogged all about it here.

zucchini relish

Finally, some really tasty-looking zucchini relish from Flickr user crysluvsjimmy_2much.

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Nine Jams For Jennie

nine jams

Like so many others, when I heard that Jennie Perillo’s husband had died suddenly, my heart ached for her and her girls. I made peanut butter pie in solidarity and when Bloggers Without Borders started up their fundraising campaign, I knew I wanted to participate in some way.

In light of my recent layoff, money is tighter for me than it used to be. But happily, I am not without resources. I am rich when it comes to jam.

nine jams

I have pulled nine half pints of jam off my shelves to create a collection to auction. If you can’t read the lids, here’s what’s included:

  • Apricot-Red Chili (a spicy variation on the Apricot-Rosemary)
  • Tomato Jam (yes, THAT tomato jam)
  • Blueberry Maple (my take on this recipe)
  • Strawberry Lemon (a variation on this recipe)
  • Fig Jam (last year’s version of this jam)
  • Shiro Plum with Ginger (haven’t managed to post this one anywhere yet)
  • Sweet Cherry Jam (from the cookbook!)
  • Sour Cherry Jam (my most precious preserve)
  • Cara Cara Orange-Ginger Marmalade (another one from the cookbook)

Instead of taking ever-increasing bids on this item, here’s how I want to do this. If you’re interested in this assortment of homemade jam, between now and 11:59 p.m. (that’s eastern time) on Monday, August 29, you are going to click on the badge below and donate at least $25 (though I strongly encourage you to give as generously as you are able). That’s an incredible bargain for all that jam.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll scroll down and fill out the form below so that I can easily track all the donations and get in contact with the winner once selected. On Tuesday, August 30, I’ll use to select an auction winner. I will carefully wrap each jar and ship them to said winner at my own expense.

Donate to Bloggers Without Borders

All donations go to Blogggers Without Borders, a non-profit that is managing the fund for Jennie.

Don’t forget to check out some of the other amazing items that are currently up for auction, including an assortment of wine from Sean Timberlake, an incredible assortment of preserves from Kate at Snowflake Kitchen and so much more.

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Pickled Baby Pattypan Squash

pickled pattypans

You might recognize this picture. I included it in my vacation post on Monday. Several people wrote in, hoping that I might post the recipe. I’m happy to do so, though I must confess that it’s barely a recipe at all.

I have a basic formula I follow for quick, refrigerator-type pickles like this. It’s one cup vinegar (any 5% acidity vinegar will do), one cup water and one tablespoon pickling salt (sea salt is also fine). This is typically enough for a quart of pickles, which a little bit leftover. It can be expanded or contracted as needed.

fresh baby pattypans

Spices can be anything you like. For this particular batch of pickles, I used a generous tablespoon of pickling spice. Depending on what you’re pickling, you can add garlic, peppercorns, red chili flakes, dill seed, mustard seed, etc.

After you pour the brine over the veg, place a lid on the jar and let is sit on the counter until it’s cool. Once it’s returned to room temperature, pop the jar into the fridge and let it sit for at least 48 hours before proceeding to munch.

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Upcoming: Canning at Cook, Pairings at Wedge + Fig with Madame Fromage and a Farmers’ Market Demo

the three cheeses and their jams

Writing this blog is most often a joy. However at heart, I’m something of a social girl and so like to get out from behind the computer screen and talk preserving with real, live people instead of just typing my thoughts. To that end, I have several upcoming events where I’ll be doing just that and I hope to see some of you there!

The first two are both on Sunday, September 18 (it’s going to be a very busy day!). At 12 noon, you’ll find me at Cook, Philly’s soon-to-open cooking school. I’ll be teaching a canning class in that beautiful space that will demonstration how to make both Pear Vanilla Jam and Refrigerator Pickles.

There will be plenty of snacks to munch on and all the question and answer time your collective hearts’ desire. At the end, everyone will take home an eight ounce jar of the Pear Vanilla Jam, as well as handout to ensure you can do it later. That class is limited to 16 people and costs $70. Click here to register.

At 4 pm that day, I’ll be teaming up with Madame Fromage at Wedge + Fig for a cheese and preserves tasting. Here’s the announcement for that event:

Dreaming of fall? Sit down to six autumnal cheese selections and learn how to pair them with warm flavors like dark beer, chutney, and homemade pickles.  In this class, we’ll explore pairing fundamentals for the winter months and taste six styles of cheese with an emphasis on learning how to mix and match. This is a great Cheese 101 for anyone interested in developing a palate, and if you’re a home canner you’ll leave with recipes you can use for parties and gift giving.

This session costs $65. Buy your seats soon, Wedge + Fig is a charmingly snug and space will go fast. Click here to register.

Finally, this Saturday, August 27, I’ll be doing a canning demo out at the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market. If you’re out that way, stop by and say hi!

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Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid

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Tomato canning season is here and so I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who are canning their own tomatoes for the first time. They worry because their tomatoes are floating, their crushed tomatoes have separated or their jars have lost significant liquid in the canning process and now they’re not sure if their tomatoes are safe. Let’s take these three topics one by one and put your hearts at ease, shall we?

Tomato Float
Take a look at the jars on the left in the picture above. Those are the whole, peeled tomatoes that I canned last year. As you can see, the tomatoes are floating over a good inch of liquid and tomato sediment at the bottom of the jar. This one is absolutely no big deal.

Even the most seasoned canner is going to have some canned whole tomatoes that float. This is because there are air pockets inside those tomatoes and when you pack something with some internal trapped air in a liquid, it will float.

You can try to avoid float by using regular mouth jars (the shoulders of the jar help keep the fruit in place) and packing the jar as firmly as possible (without totally crushing the tomatoes). But really and truly, it’s no big deal.

Tomato Separation
Often, I will hear from people who are concerned because their crushed tomatoes have separated into a layer of liquid topped by a layer of solids. What happened here is that you heated your tomatoes for more than five minutes, let them cool and then heated them up again.

By doing this, you’ve broken down the pectin inside the tomatoes. In this situation, the pectin was there holding the structure of the cells together and once it goes, there’s nothing to maintain the integrity of the tomato flesh together and so pulp separates from the water.

I never worry about this one either. Just give the jar a good shake before using.

Liquid Loss
Back to the picture up at the top. Take a look at the quart jars on the right. You might notice that several of those jars lost a TON of liquid. I canned that particular batch in my pressure canner and during the cooling process, they siphoned like mad (that’s the official canning term for when liquid escapes).

Siphoning can be prevented by better bubbling of jars and a slower cooling process. However, even when you’re careful, it still happens sometimes. However, as long as your seals are good, jars with even significant liquid loss are still safe to eat.

You may experience some reduction of quality over time and when it happens to lighter colored foods (like peaches), the product that’s not submerged will begin to discolor. Put those jars at the front of the queue of jars to use and don’t worry about it.

Air Bubbles
Sometimes, you’ll preserve tomatoes and once the jars are sealed, you’ll notice that there are a few air pockets or bubbles in the finished product. As long as the lids remain sealed and those bubbles aren’t actively moving around on their own, the jars are fine. Once a jar is sealed, air pockets are only a problem if they seem to bubbling independently of you moving or tapping the jars, as that can be a sign of fermentation. Otherwise, all is well.

What other tomato questions do you guys have? Let’s hear it!

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Jars on Vacation: A Week in Lancaster County, PA

recent jar acquisitions

We’ve been back home for just over 24 hours and already, our vacation week is starting fade in the presence of regular life. While I unpack, do laundry and find spots for some of the treasures we picked up, here are a few jars from the trip.

baby pattypan in a jar

Baby pattypan squash, on their way to being pickled.

peanut butter chocolate dessert in a jar

We finished dinner at Ma(i)son in Lancaster City with a half pint jar full of chocolate peanut butter goodness.

finished dessert

All gone.

bailing wire jars

A couple of the vintage jars I picked up.

Food in Jars

Spelling out the name of this blog. It was too bad I couldn’t find a better ‘F’ in that box of blocks.

pickled pattypans

Those pattypans, all pickled and delicious.

packing jars

Making refrigerator pickles on a picnic table. You’ll see more of these soon, in an unexpected place.

post-vacation sea of jars

And home again.

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