Opinel Bread and Jam Set Giveaway

Opinel bread knife, peeler, and spreading tool.

Years ago, I picked up a little folding Opinel knife at some long-forgotten kitchenwares store. I bought it on a whim (driven by a romantic vision of lazy summer picnics), but unlike many spur-of-the-moment buys, this little knife has proved its worth many times over.

A seeded baguette, being sliced by an Opinel bread knife.

In reality, that knife hasn’t been on a great number of leisurely picnics. Instead, it’s been in the food bag for nearly every day-long adventure and road trip we’ve taken over the past five or so years. It has been pressed into service in under-equipped kitchens, has helped divvy sandwiches at rest stops, and has played a role in many an impromptu foraging expedition.

A seeded baguette, a butter dish, a jar of jam, and various Opinel tools.

So, when the nice PR rep for Opinel got in touch a couple months ago to ask if I might like to try some of their other products, I sent off a hasty yes. We settled on a little trio of useful tools to feature here. And so, for the last month, I’ve been using their sturdy bread knife, a sweet little spreading knife, and a quick, super sharp peeler.

A butter dish, an Opinel spreader, and bread with jam.

Much like the folding knife that has been such a workhorse, the knife, spreader, and peeler are simple, well-made, and incredibly useful tools. What’s more, if you’re visiting friends this summer, paired with a jar of jam, the spreader or the butter knife would make a really nice hostess gift.

Opinel bread knife, peeler, and spreading tool in their packaging.

Thanks to the nice folks at Opinel, I have a the blue-handled set of bread knife, spreader, and peeler to give away to one lucky Food in Jars reader. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite impulse buy.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 25, 2016. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 26, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Opinel sent me the tools you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and has also providing the giveaway units. The tools were provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Upcoming Events: Omega Institute! Cornwall Public Library! Valley Variety!

farmers market cabbages

Happy summer, friends! I hope you all had good weekends, bursting with good food and father’s day celebrations. I’m dropping in this morning with a quick reminder of some of my upcoming events. I head to the Hudson Valley on Friday morning and I’ll be in the area through the holiday weekend for a family wedding. As is my habit, I’m combining vacation with a workshop, a library event, and a hands-on class.

Tuesday, June 21 (Maywood, NJ)
I’m headed up to the Maywood Public Library in Maywood, NJ for a free canning demo and book signing. I’ll be making a small batch of Strawberry Cocoa Jam and will answer all your burning canning questions. The demo starts at 7 pm and will last about an hour. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26 (Rhinebeck, NY)
This is my weekend-long canning workshop at the Omega Institute. We’ll make 10-12 preserves and will dive deep into the minutia of food preservation. There are actually a few spots still available in the workshop and we welcome last-minute registrations. Details and registration information here.

Tuesday, June 28 (Cornwall, NY)
I’ll be at the Cornwall Public Library in Cornwall, NY for a canning demo and book signing. The demo starts at 6:30 pm and the program will last about an hour. Afterwards, I’ll have copies of all three of my books available for sale and, as always, I’ll be delighted to sign them.

Wednesday, June 29 (Hudson, NY)
Two years ago I taught a workshop at Valley Variety in Hudson, and I liked it so much that we’re doing it again! This time, we’ll be making two recipes from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars (Vanilla Peach Jam and Tomato Chutney) and digging in the details of preserving with natural sweeteners. I’m also bringing an assortment of preserves from my pantry, that shop owner Chuck will pair with cheese and wine. The class is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm and costs $50 per person. Register here.

For my complete calendar, click here. 

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Cookbook Fair at Headhouse Square Farmers Market

Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint at Headhouse Square

Quick note, Philly-area friends! This Sunday, June 19, I will be at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market from 10 am until 2 pm with a few other local cookbook authors for a small book fair.

The other authors scheduled to appear are Amanda Feifer (Ferment Your Vegetables), Jax Peters Lowell (The Gluten-Free Revolution), and Michael Solomonov (Zahav). Jill Ross from The Cookbook Stall at Reading Terminal Market will be on hand to sell books. Come out and say hi!

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Cherry Swag Bag Giveaway from Northwest Cherries

Cherries in a bowl for the cherry swag bag giveaway.

Earlier this week, I got a box containing a little over 10 pounds of sweet, ripe Northwest Cherries from Washington State. I look forward to this shipment every summer and each time it arrives, I can’t quite believe my good fortune. After all, cherries are among the most precious of the summer fruit.

These cherries come to me as part of my participation in the Canbassador program. It’s an awareness campaign that the folks from Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Fruit Commission run in order to shine a spotlight on their beautiful stonefruit!

This is my seventh year participating in their Canbassador program (wrap your mind around that one!) and over that time, I’ve developed a whole bunch of recipes featuring their fruit.

Next week, I’ll start posting my 2016 recipes, but before we get to those, I have some fun news. This year, I’m not the only one who is going to get a box of delicious cherries. One of my lovely readers is also going to get a shipment of delicious Northwest Cherries, along with a swag bag that will contain a cherry branded water bottle and Oxo cherry pitter.

This cherry swag bag giveaway has a tight turnaround because we’ve got to pick a winner before the season ends (and cherries come and go quite quickly)! Use the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure to tell your friends.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Low Sugar Apricot Strawberry Jam

This sweet, tangy, and bright apricot strawberry jam is the perfect marriage of early season stonefruit and juicy berries. Try it stirred into yogurt or as a glaze for roast chicken.

A stainless steel pan, filled with chopped apricots and strawberries.

Several weeks ago, before the local season for either apricots or strawberries started, I found myself wandering through Reading Terminal Market. I was there to pick up a few things for a recipe development gig, and had no intention of buying out-of-season fruit that had traveled great distances.

A stainless steel pan filled with sugared apricots and strawberries.

I was walking with purpose towards the herbs, when the sight of a pile of tiny, brightly hued apricots stopped me mid-step and I was suddenly powerless to resist them. Before I knew what I was doing, I had a plastic bag in my hand and I was filling it with perfect fruit. With the bag nestled into my basket, I went a few more steps before I was again stopped by a display of incredibly fragrant strawberries. They joined the apricots. This is the not the first time I’ve fallen sway to fruit.

The chopped and sugared apricots and strawberries, after they've sat and gotten juicy.

Once home, I snacked on the fruit a bit (both to get a sense of their state of sweet and tart, and because it all smelled so good) and then weighed out what remained. I worked up a recipe ratio in my head and got to the work of pitted, hulling, and chopping.

The fully cooked apricot strawberry jam.

In the end, I used 2 1/2 pounds of apricots and 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries. Using a ratio of four parts fruit to one part sugar, I measured out 2 cups of sugar, which is approximately 1 pound. I settled the fruit into my Kilner jam pan, added most of the sugar, gave it a good stir, and then let it sit for several hours, so that the sugar could dissolve and help draw the juice from the fruit. Later, I added some lemon juice to help balance the flavors, and used Pomona’s Pectin to get it to set up.

Five half pint jars filled with apricot strawberry jam.

Once cooked, I had exactly five half pints of really delicious jam, that starts with the flavor of apricots and finishes with the strawberry. I typically keep a box of recently made jams and preserves next to my front door, so that I can easily grab things to share with friends and neighbors. However, this is one that I’ve actively kept out of the box, because I want to keep it all for myself. It’s just that good.

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Cookbooks: The Modern Preserver

The Modern Preserver Cover

These days, it takes a lot for a canning book to delight me. After all, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade totally immersed in jamming, pickling, and preserving. I sometimes even begin to think that perhaps I’ve seen every trick and flavor combination there is. And then a book like The Modern Preserver drops out of the sky and into my mailbox, and I am delighted.

The Modern Preserver Spine

Written by Kylee Newton, an artisan jam maker from New Zealand and now based in London, The Modern Preserver offers up a familiar and fresh array of jams, pickles, compotes, jellies, cordials, and more. The design is clean, the photography is gorgeous, and the voice of the book is reliable and charming.

The Modern Preserver Green Bean and Coconut Relish

The book opens with a short introduction that details Kylee’s background, and then offers a bit of information about her ethos as a preserver. From there, she talks about the rules of preserving. Do know that this section is far briefer than it would be in an American book. I’ll dig a little more into that in a moment.

The Modern Preserver Fennel and Orange Pickle

Following the intro, we dig into the recipes. The first section contains Relishes, Chutneys, and Sauces. Next up is Pickles, Fermentations, and Vinegars; followed by Jams, Jellies, and Compotes; and Curds, Candies, and Fruit Cheeses. Bringing up the rear of the book are the Syrups, Cordials, and Alcohol.

I have bookmarked a goodly number of recipes in this book, and every time I open it, I find something else that I’d like to make, or at the very least, use as inspiration for a related preserve (Blackberry Relish! How had I never thought to make that!)

The Modern Preserver Lime and Saffron Jelly

My only quibble with this book is that there’s no acknowledgement that best practices for preserving vary depending on where you are in the world. Here in the US, it’s standard practice that we use jars designed for canning (not recycled jars from store-bought preserves). We use two piece lids and we make sure that the flat lids are new each time we can. And finally, we run everything we make through a boiling water bath. None of this is in the book (I’m a little bit surprised that the US publisher didn’t make them at least add an appendix referencing the different standards).

All that said, I will still be preserving from this book. I’m just going to make sure that I bring along my food science knowledge and general understanding of canning. Everything will be packed into appropriate jars and will get a trip through the canning pot (to determine timing, I’ll reference recipes with similar ingredients and densities).

The Modern Preserver Back

Now, with all that off my chest, let’s have a giveaway! The kind folks at The Countryman Press have given me one copy of this gorgeous book to give away. Here’s how to enter!

  1. Leave a comment on this post tell me about a recipe source that’s been serving as inspiration for you lately.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 18, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 19, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The Countryman Press sent me the copy you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit. Both are being provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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