Guest Post: Five Canning and Preserving Survival Tips by Lynne Curry

Today’s guest post comes to us from cookbook author and seasoned canner Lynne Curry. She’s dropping in to share some of her hard won canning wisdom with those who are just getting started, or who simply need to be reminded how to stay sane during the height of the preserving season. Enjoy! -Marisa

The strawberries and cherries have already come and gone for many of us, and the stone fruit avalanche is well under way. And that’s just the fruits! Before you know it, we’ll all be swimming in green beans and tomatoes, racing to pack them into jars.

As a longtime food preserver, I’ve had moments–even small-batch canning–when things nearly got out of hand. With the washing and sanitizing of jars, the peeling and cutting of fruits and vegetables and timing the steady boil in the canner, it’s a lot to manage!

Happily, I’ve adopted five practices from my professional life as a chef and recipe developer that keep me organized and productive from batch to batch over the entire growing season.

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Cookbooks: Homegrown Pantry

People often ask me if I grow the things I preserve, mostly in the hopes that I’ll be able to share with them favorite varieties for growing and canning. I always end up disappoint them when I confess that other than a couple seasons with a mediocre community garden plot, I almost no gardening experience.

Happily, there’s a new book that is the resource that people have always wished I could be. Called Homegrown Pantry and written by Barbara Pleasant, this book should be on the shelf of everyone who likes to garden and preserve what they’ve grown.

The book is designed to help you choose the best varieties to plant, determine how much you’ll need to grow, and the best ways to preserve the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are the result of your hard work.

This book digs into canning, drying, fermenting, freezing, root cellaring, and even wine making. There are tips, tricks, recipes, and a world of useful recommendations.

It’s even useful for those of us who don’t garden, but occasionally find ourselves in possession of a bushel of apples, a big bundle of herbs, or a fresh potatoes from the farmers market. It’s a really terrific resource!

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Giveaway: Le Parfait Familia Wiss 750 mL Canning Jars

A little over a year ago, when I was traveling up the west coast promoting Naturally Sweet, I stopped in at Down to Earth in Eugene for a demo and book signing. Before we got started, I took a moment to wander through their canning section. They had all the familiar jars and tools, but they also had a massive array of Le Parfait jars.

I wanted to fill the car with an array of those graceful, sturdy jars, but sadly, I was 3,000 miles from home and driving my parents’ station wagon. I was fairly certain that they would not appreciate it if I rolled up to their house with a wayback full of French preserves jars and asked them to keep them in the garage until I could find a way to get them back to Philadelphia.

Now, Le Parfait makes several lines of jars. Most of us are familiar with the Super Jars with their rubber gaskets and locking lids (I particularly love their Super Terrines for dry goods). And you may have used or spotted their Jam Jars (they have lug lids and look much like the jars you buy Bonne Maman jam in). But it was their Familia Wiss line that most captured my attention.

The reason that I was so charmed by Familia Wiss is that they are functional canning jars that are incredibly durable and beautiful. They have really wide mouths, making packing and filling a dream. They come in a wider array of sizes than regular mason jars (200, 350, 500, 750, 1000, and 1500 mL). And I found the sealing system so smart and reasonable.

Instead of using a lid and ring like our standard two-piece system, these jars use a flat lid and a fully encapsulating lid. The metal is heavier, they’re less prone to rusting, and seal that’s produced is incredibly strong. When you open up the jar to eat the contents, you can discard the flat lid and just use the cap for storage (they also sell bright orange plastic lids that fit these jars, which are a fun option for storing pantry items).

Once you understand how the basics of how the lids work, you can approach these Familia Wiss jars the same way that you do any other mason jar. You want to use new lids for each round of canning (and they can be ordered here). They should be clean but don’t need to be boiling prior to use. And like any other jar, once the jar has cooled and the seal is achieved, you can remove the outer lid and store the jars with just their sealed flat lid.

There is one downside to the Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars and that’s their cost. They come at a higher price than we’re typically accustomed to paying for canning jars. At first I bristled at the idea of paying more for jars, but I’m starting to think that they’re worth the price.

For one thing, they’re so much stronger than the grocery store jars. I hear from people on a near-daily basis about brand new Ball jars breaking in the canner. I can’t imagine that ever happening with a Le Parfait Familia Wiss jar. They are just so darn tough. And since I know that canning is something I’m going to continue to do across my lifetime, investing in gear that will pull its weight for the long haul doesn’t bother me.

The other thing is that I believe that working with higher quality jars leads to a more thoughtful approach to food preservation. Sometimes I preserve simply because I got a good deal or I start to feel that summertime panic that everything is currently in season and I MUST. PUT. UP. However, as I strive to be more conscious and preserving with an eye towards using up (rather than stockpiling), choosing the strong, beautiful jars that happen to be a little more expensive feels like a good choice.

This week, I’m partnering with the Le Parfait folks on a promotion and a giveaway. Two lucky people will each win a set of four 750 mL Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars (use the widget below to enter). These jars hold the same volume as the pint and a half jars that so many of us find particularly useful!

If you want to try some of the Le Parfait Familia Wiss jars and don’t want to take your chances on the giveaway, you can head over to Amazon, browse the size options, and use the code FOODNJAR for 5% off your order (the code is good through the end of July).

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Links: Upcoming Events, Cherry Preserves, and Winners

Happy Sunday, friends! I hope everyone had a good weekend. We’ve got a busy week coming up around Food in Jars HQ. On Monday, July 10, I’ll be doing a fridge pickle demo at the Exeter Community Library in Exeter, PA from 6:30-8 pm. On Thursday, July 13, I’ll be at the Glassboro Library doing a similar fridge pickle demo from 7-8:30 pm. Hope some of you local folks can join me! Now, links!

Big thanks to everyone who took the time to enter last week’s giveaway. I enjoyed reading all of your pickle memories.

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How to Build a Summertime Cheese Board

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is here to share her tips for building a cheeseboard for the summer season! Looks delicious! – Marisa

It’s ironic that the farmers’ markets are bursting with the widest variety of ingredients during the season that it’s often — in my apartment, anyway — too hot to cook.

But there are still delicious meals to be made in the head of summer. In July and August, I find myself gravitating to salads made with greens, soft-boiled eggs, and other easy-to-prep veggies, or grilled cheese sandwiches made with thick slabs of tomato and basil leaves stuffed inside.

Of course, there’s always the grill — but struggling to get the coals lit while fighting off mosquitoes and (still) sweating make outdoor cooking a special occasion thing for me.

How else to pull together a quick and delicious meal with minimal cooking that’s adaptable to the season’s bounty? Build a beautiful, easy, no-cook cheese board.

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Hot Pack Spiced Cherry Preserves

These spiced cherry preserves are a tasty way to put up this most precious of summer fruit. Sweet, spicy, and tender, they’re a good companion for breakfast, cheese plates, and dessert!

Last Thursday, a big box of sweet cherries arrived from the nice folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers. I’ve slowly been working through them (look for black raspberry and cherry jam, cherry and meyer lemon marmalade, and more coming at you soon) and on Monday night, I used three pounds for my Facebook Live demo.

These preserved cherries (pitted but left whole) are simmered in a syrup that’s been spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black peppercorns. They soften and slump, but retain enough texture that they’re a good companion for cheese plates, yogurt parfaits, and damp slices of buttery poundcake. I think you’ll like them!

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