Homemade Cranberry Jelly and Pickled Cranberries

pickled cranberries

Last November, I did two things with cranberries that continue to top my own personal hit parade of really good canning ideas. The first was that I pickled cranberries. Those sweet-tart cranberries were so satisfying with turkey and generally great with all manner of other savory things (and the brine worked really well in sparkling water).

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

The other thing I did was make homemade cranberry jelly and mold it up in BPA-free aluminum cans, so that I could slide it out onto my traditional cranberry dish, can-ridges and all. I still get a kick out of it when I look back on that post. Maybe there’s space for this homemade-but-still-classic version on your Thanksgiving table this year?

In other news, I made a batch of pear cranberry jam on Monday that I’m in the process of writing up for this space (look for it later tonight). However, in the meantime, I couldn’t resist pointing out these older posts.

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Canning 101: Allow Your Process to Evolve

jam berries

Over the years that I’ve been keeping this blog, I’ve written at length about my personal canning practice and the many jam, pickles and other preserves I’ve cooked up. And because this site is as much my personal record as it is a collection of recipes, you’ll start to notice something interesting if you dig back through the archives. As I’ve canned my way through season after season, my approach has gone through a gradual series of shifts.

Where I was once devoted to minding the temperature of my jam to determine set, these days, I’m more apt to listen, look and feel my way to the gel point. There were years when I felt fearful to deviate from my three favorite spices, but now I infuse jams and chutneys with lavender, thyme and the occasional pinch of fiery chili flakes.

My style of recipe development has changed in other ways too. I use less sugar (I realize it might not look like it, but really, I do). I rarely add water to jam (in the early days, I didn’t understand that in most cases, there’s plenty of liquid in the fruit). I try to fill just as many jars with savory foods as I do with sweet things. And I make smaller and smaller batches.

apricot jam

One of the things I’ve heard many times over since my book came out is how liberated people feel when they discover that canning doesn’t have to be the hot, sweaty, day-long  process that they learned from their parents. I’m here to say that you can have the canning liberation each and every year.

You see, this is the time to take stock. To evaluate what worked for you this season and what didn’t. To decide that you might just want to let go of a few recipes or techniques that don’t happen to fit into your kitchenlife anymore. And to realize that just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that method for all eternity

As we head into the time of year when the emphasis is more on the emptying of jars than it is filling them, pay attention (and even take a few notes). Observe which jars go first. Are there jars languishing in your fridge, open but unloved? And are there particular preserves that were so labor-intensive that they end up feeling too precious to open (I’ll confess to having a few of those)?

How has your canning practice evolved?



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Giveaway: New West KnifeWorks Chef’s Knife

Fusionwood 2.0 chef's knife

A couple of years ago, I got an email from the folks at New West KnifeWorks, asking if I’d be interested in trying out a couple of their knives. Because I’m always on the look-out for the perfect kitchen knife, I said yes. They sent me a chef’s knife and a paring knife from their original Fusionwood line.

Over time, I found that while I really liked the paring knife, the chef’s knife felt a little clunky in my hand. That had, in large part, to do with the blade. It was really heavy and thick. I found that while it was great for whacking through dense things, but it was just too darn hefty for daily chopping.

in action

Isn’t Scott a good hand model?

Recently, I heard from New West KnifeWorks again. They were writing to say that they’ve redesigned their knives to use a “super steel*” that allows the blades to be both thinner and stronger than the previous version and would I be interested in trying one out. I said yes again (I can’t resist kitchenware).

The Fusionwood 2.0 eight-inch chef’s knife arrived a couple weeks back now and it has rapidly become one of my favorite things in my kitchen. That gorgeous grip feels quite natural in my hand, the blade is much lighter and appears to be holding its edge quite well. I’ve been using it everyday and I’m not noticing a diminishment in performance as of yet.

I also really like the shape of the blade. It’s a little narrower than traditional for a chef’s knife and I’m find that to be a positive feature. When chopping dense vegetables like carrots and potatoes, the pieces fall off the blade easily instead of clinging to its surface. A very useful thing as we head into the season of root vegetables and holiday cooking.

on the cutting board

I also like the fact that New West KnifeWorks strives to be a conscientious company. Their knives are made in Wyoming and the factory is run on power generated by their own hydropower plant. What’s more, all the knives have a lifetime guarantee for non-commercial use. If you’re unhappy with it, they will replace it. And, if you break a knife through mistreatment (though I can’t imagine any of you responsible Food in Jars readers doing such a thing), they will replace it at half price. In these days disposal everything, it’s truly lovely to see a company making good stuff and standing by.

New West KnifeWorks has given me a second Fusionwood 2.0 eight-inch chef’s knife to giveaway to one of my readers. Here’s what to do to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me one thing you’re doing this week to get ready for Thanksgiving (getting your knives sharpened is always good in preparation for a days of cooking).
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, November 16, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post. I do not accept submissions via email.

But wait, there’s more! New West is also giving away a four-piece set of their knives on Facebook. Click here to visit the entry page and throw your hat into the ring for that contest as well!

*The official name is S35VN Powderized Steel.

Disclosure: New West KnifeWorks provided me one of their Fusionwood 2.0 eight-inch chef’s knives for review and photography purposes at no cost to me. They’ve also provided the giveaway unit at no cost to me. However, they did not pay me to run this post or say nice things about them. I did that simply because I liked the product. My opinions are independently mine. 

Photos From the Food in Jars Flickr Pool + Marmalade Winner

Just about every week, I flip through the recent submissions in the Food in Jars Flickr pool and feature a few jar-and-canning-themed photos that are interesting, impressive, seasonal or pretty. Fancy cameras or professional skills are not required and Instagram photos are always welcome!

Apple Cider Syrup

Apple cider syrup from Teela. She writes the lovely blog My So-Called Modern Life. This is one of my favorite things to make when cider is in the markets. A few jars in the pantry means that a mug of hot cider is never far away.

Pears, pears, pears

It’s a pear party from Lynn! She made quarts of preserved pear halves, pear vanilla jam (one of my favorites!), and a batch of pear hazelnut jam (I wonder if this just has bits of chopped hazelnut strewn throughout?).

Cranberry/Orange Chutney

It looks like wyld lil is getting ready for Thanksgiving with a batch of cranberry and orange chutney. I really should be following suit! I’m entirely unprepared for the holiday next week.

Garden Grub 118

I saved the most jaw-dropping for last. Check out the shelves of preserves that sisters Eleanor and Liz have made this season. Make sure to click over to the photo on Flickr to see the complete list of items they’ve made this year. Well done, you two!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Time for our Marmalade winner! Random.org drew #96 out of its digital hat of numbers. That means the winner is Susan, who said, “I’ve trying making a few marmalades, some successful, some not so much. I add the not so much ones to my morning oatmeal to sweeten it. Would love the book so I can improve my techniques.”

Susan, I hope the book helps you take your marmalade making to a whole new level!

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Links: Apple Pie, Ginger Carrot Curd, and Preserved Peppers



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Beautiful Cookbooks: Marmalade

Marmalade cover

Last fall, when I was still trying to pick myself up from the blow of being laid off from my job, I got a email from my editor at Running Press. She was working on a marmalade project and wanted to know if I’d be interested in making a sampling of recipes from book for the photo shoot. My need for work, coupled with the fact that I was very much excited to see a world of new-to-me marmalades, meant that I said yes within moments of receiving her note.

before you start

In early January, I spent about two weeks digging deep into the world of marmalades. I simmered, sliced, grated, and jarred up 12 recipes from the book. I went crazy trying to find yuzu, passionfruit, and Seville oranges in Philadelphia. Without question, I got far more than my daily recommended dose of vitamin C during that period.

blood orange marmalade

Now, many months later, Marmalade is here and it is gorgeous. Written by food writer and marmalade obsessive Elizabeth Field and photographed by award winning food blogger and photographer Helene Dujardin, this book is a pleasure to hold and use. It contains a variety of marmalades (sweet, savory, citrus, and beyond), as well meals that can incorporate these spreads and baked goods that can serve as vehicle for them.

quince paste

Of course, I get particular pleasure flipping through this book, because nearly every preserve and spread pictured is something I made in my own kitchen. It’s ridiculously satisfying to look at the photos and recall the flavors and aromas of each recipe.

I’m also happy to have this volume in my hands, because while I made a dozen of the recipes it contains, I didn’t actually get to keep any of them. I’m very much looking forward to revisit the Tangerine and Vanilla Marmalade, as well as the “In the Pink” variety made from ruby red grapefruit.

red onion marmalade

Recently, I queried my Twitter followers, asking what they were looking for in a preserving book. An internet acquaintance of mine said that she was looking for something that would allow her to push her preserving skills and move beyond the basic “Canning 101” recipes that are so readily found. Happily (at least, if she likes marmalade), this is a book that might serve her well. While it’s plenty accessible for new canners, there’s also plenty here that will satisfy those looking to broaden their canning.

dragon fruit variations

I’m afraid that I’m responsible for this variation on the Passionfruit Marmalade recipe in this book. When I tested these recipes, I marched up and down the length and breadth of Philadelphia, trying to find passionfruit. I came to the conclusion that it was impossible to source in January.

Instead of admitting defeat, I created a version that used dragon fruit, in the hopes that it might trick the camera. It didn’t, but instead of tossing that batch, the powers that be decided to add a variation to the book, in order to make the photo work. I was greatly relieved that my efforts weren’t wasted. It’s also fun to see the small impact I had on this delightful book.

Thanks to Running Press and my editor Kristen, I have a copy of this sweet little book to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share some tidbit about marmalade in your life. Do you like it? Hate it? Have you made it? Constantly on the search for Seville oranges? Whatever your story, I want to read it.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post. I do not accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Running Press gave me two copies of this book, one to review and one to give away. Despite this, my opinions remain entirely my own.