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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comments { 0 }

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.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 4 }

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!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 5 }

Hot Pack Preserving for the July Mastery Challenge

It is July and that means it’s time to introduce our Mastery Challenge skill. This month, we’re focusing on hot pack preserving. Let’s dig in.

What is hot pack preserving?

At it’s most basic, hot pack preserving is simply the act of putting food that is warm or cooked into jars and then processing them. When you pour jam, jelly, salsa, or tomato sauce into prepared jars, you are hot packing. However, the term is most often applied when a preserve or ingredients can either be packed hot or cold (if you missed it, we focused on cold pack preserving in May).

Why hot pack?

  1. When you heat fruits and vegetables they soften and shrink a bit. In the context of canning, this is useful, because it means that you can fit more into each jar (often reducing the number of jars you need to can a volume of produce) and use less water or syrup.
  2. The other thing that happens when you heat produce is that the heat helps release some of the air that is naturally contained in the flesh. Trapped air is a leading cause of fruit float and liquid siphoning. A brief cooking period can help your peaches, apricots, and tomatoes release that air, leading to a better quality finished product, with less floating and siphoning.
  3. A pre-cooking stage gives you an opportunity to infuse additional flavor. I often utilize the heating stage of hot packing to add the flavors of vanilla, star anise or basil (in the case of tomatoes) to the product I’m preserving.

What are the downsides of hot packing?

  1. Loss of texture. The more you heat your food, the softer it becomes. If texture is your main concern, think carefully before opting to hot pack peach slices or pickles.
  2. Smaller yield. If you are canning to meet a particular yield goal, opting for a hot pack process will mean it will take longer to reach your final number. Personally, I always opt for quality over quantity, but we all have different factors that drive us to can.
  3. For best results, process must be done from start to finish in one day. Often, people ask me if they can prep and cook their produce one day, chill it overnight and then reheat and can the next day. Unfortunately, with things like tomatoes, apples, and stone fruit, this breaks down the structure of the produce and leads to product separation (it’s not dangerous, just visually unappealing). If you want your diced tomatoes or applesauce to maintain a consistent appearance and not separate out into pulp and liquid, the cooking and preserving must be done in a single session.
  4. For those of you who are canning at elevation may have particular challenges with hot pack preserving. Processing times are lengthened as we move up in altitude, which means that if you’ve simmered your peaches for ten minutes and then end up processing them for an hour or more, you may have nothing but peach mush in your jars by the end.

The goal for this month…

Is to explore this skill. If it’s something you feel familiar with, perhaps challenge yourself to try it with a new variety of produce or in a new context. It’s a useful technique to understand and have in your food preservation toolbox.

A few recipes…

Some from my archives:

And some from around the internet:

Comments { 5 }

Giveaway: Mrs. Wages Pickle Sampler Pack

This week’s Pickle Sampler giveaway comes to us from long-time Food in Jars sponsor Mrs. Wages. I’ve been doing a bit of work with the folks from Mrs. Wages for the last seven(!) years and one element of our annual partnership is that they always offer up one or two awesome baskets of their mixes, spices, and starters for me to give away to my wonderful readers. This summer is no exception!

This is the first of two baskets of canning helpers that I’ll be giving away from Mrs. Wages this summer. This basket contains nearly every pickle product that Mrs. Wages makes, which should delight the pickle lovers. Here’s exactly what’s in the basket.

To enter for a chance to win this basket of pickle making goodness, please use the widget below. Open to US and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Mrs. Wages is a Food in Jars sponsor and so contributes to the ongoing operation of this site. This giveaway is part of our annual partnership.

Comments { 97 }

July Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, Mason Jar Lifestyle, CanningCrafts, and Mrs. Wages

Happy July, friends and readers! It’s the start of the month and so is time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them your appreciation for their support with your time and attention!  And if your company, shop, or family business is interested reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

In the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creators of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. I love pairing their straw-ready drink lid with a 24 ounce mason jar for the perfect summer iced coffee vessel.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. As always, their blog is an amazing resource for all things jar-related. Sign up for the salsa class I’m teaching in their space on August 19!

Our friends over at EcoJarz on board again this month. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids. I’ve got a giveaway from them coming up later this month, so stay tuned!

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lids, straws, sprouting lids, and cozies to transform your mason jars into travel mugs, make sure to check them out!

Next up is CanningCrafts. Shop owner Alison sells an array of ready made and custom mason jar labels for all your various preserves, syrups, and backyard honey. I particularly love her line of labels encouraging people to return the jar! When next you need labels for a special project, check out CanningCrafts.

Our friends at Mrs. Wages are on the roster again this month. They make pectin, vinegar, and more canning mixes than I can count. Their website is an incredible preserving resource and I can’t say enough good things about their salsa mix. If you need a little help getting your produce into jars, remember to seek out their products! They’re also sponsoring the giveaway this week, make sure to enter!

Comments { 0 }