Giveaway: Grater Set from EcoJarz

When I first started canning and collecting jars, finding cool jar accessories was nearly impossible. Happily, in the last ten years, a world of nifty accessories and adapters has exploded onto the scene. One of my favorite makers of useful things for mason jars is EcoJarz. They make drink lids, storage lids, and food prep accessories out of high quality stainless steel and food-grade silicone.

This week, I’m giving away one of their grater sets. This handy kit comes with a slicer lid, a grater lid, two silicone seals, a stainless steel ring, and a wide mouth half pint mason jar. It allows you to grate, slice, and store the excess easily.

If you want to win this nifty set, please use the widget below to enter!

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Small Batch Bread and Butter Pickles

Last night, I spent an hour in my kitchen making bread and butter pickles and talking to my phone (otherwise known as doing a live broadcast via Facebook). I answered questions, used a mandoline slicer without injuring myself, and at the end had three and a half pints of tasty pickles for my efforts.

I’ve published a few different variations on bread and butter pickles over the years, but have never managed to get one up on the blog. Well, let’s change that. This is the exact version I made last night. It doubles and triples beautifully if you’ve got even more veg to use up. And it’s the perfect thing for this month’s hot pack challenge!

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Cookbooks: The Essential Book of Homesteading

Before she was writing books about picnics, parties, and beverages, Ashley English wrote a series of books about homestead. Published in 2010 and 2011, these books focused on food preservation, chicken keeping, bee keeping, and the art of home dairy.

It was an endlessly useful quartet of books that I’ve had on my shelf for years and referenced with some regularity (though admittedly, I didn’t have quite as much use for the volumes on bees and chickens as I did for those on canning and dairy).

A year or so ago, I noticed that Ashley’s series was getting harder to come by and I was sad to see such a useful resource drop out of print. Happily, I learned a few months back that my concerns were entirely unfounded. Her four books have instead been gathered together into a single edition.

Called The Essential Book of Homesteading, this edition is now one of the most thorough reference points for 21st century homesteader. It opens with a section on chickens and then marches through canning and preserving, bees, and home dairy.

The photography is vivid, useful and in full color. The recipes are approachable and the instructional details are clear and easy to follow. If you’ve been meaning to add a homesteading-themed book to your library, the release of this one could not be more well-timed!

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Giveaway: Maple Syrup from Tree of Life Maple Farm

This week’s giveaway comes to us from the Babiarz family at the Tree of Life Maple Farm. They are a small organic maple farm based in Northwestern Maine, just a few miles from the Canadian border. All the maple products they sell come from their sugarbush, which they tap while the trees are still frozen. This allows them to gather the cleanest and clearest sap as thaw arrives.

The Tree of Life syrup is available in three different colors. Each color has its own unique properties while retaining its essential maple qualities. The lightest syrups are generally made earlier in the season, while the darker hues typically come later.

Tree of Life Maple Farm sells their syrup in a variety of packages. They offer glass bottles in a handful of different sizes and shapes for gift giving, as well as in more conventional plastic jugs for those of us who like to cook and bake with our maple and want something a little easier to juggle in the kitchen.

They also sell some of the most gorgeous, light maple sugar I’ve tried (and I used a lot of the stuff while working on Naturally Sweet Food in Jars).

The team at Tree of Life believes that maple syrup is good for so much more than just pancakes. It’s something that is equally delicious in coffee, yogurt, baked goods, and more. And one lucky winner will get a chance to try some of their delicious syrup. This week, we’re giving away one 500 ml glass jug of Organic Golden Maple Syrup and one 500 ml glass jug of Organic Dark Maple Syrup to share. Please use the widget below to enter!

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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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