Upcoming Events: Headhouse Square! New York! Arkansas! Atlanta!

three books

Hello canners! I have some fun news. After a month of sticking close to home and offering just a handful of classes and events, I’m headed back on the road a bunch in August and September. Mark your calendars for my free events and sign yourself up for my classes. I so look forward to seeing some of you there!

Sunday, August 7 (Philadelphia)
You’ll find me at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market with my friend and fellow cookbook author Emily Paster. We’ll have tasty samples of things from our new books (Emily’s is Food Swap!) and will have copies of our books on hand for sale and signature.

Monday, August 8 (Sewell, NJ)
I’ll be at the Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library for a canning demo from 7-8 pm. I’ll show you how to make a batch of the Gingery Plum Jam from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars and will have books on hand for sale and signature. The event is free, but you can reserve your spot by registering here.

Saturday, August 13 (Millersville, PA)
I’m headed out to Lancaster County for a morning canning class at Homefields Farm. This hands-on class is from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. We’ll work together to make a batch of Plum Jam with Vanilla and everyone will go home with a small jar. The class fee is $15 and you can register here.

Friday, August 19 (Amaganesett, NY)
This particular Friday, you’ll find me teaching a hands on canning class at Amber Waves Farm. We’ll make tomato jam, dilly beans, and quick pickled cucumbers. All students will go home with jars of preserves made that day. The class is from 3-6 pm. $150. Register here.

Saturday, August 20 (Great Barrington, MA)
I’ll be spending a morning at the Great Barrington Farmers Market, demonstrating how to make small batches of honey-sweetened jam, I’ll have copies of my books on hand for sale and signature and a few jars of jam ready for sampling. Look for me between the hours of 9 am – 1 pm.

Sunday, August 21 – (Hillsdale, NY)
In this demo-style canning class, I’ll feature two seriously delicious recipes from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars. We’ll make Caramelized Red Onion Jam (sweetened with maple sugar) and Peach Rosemary Glaze (sweetened with honey).  at Hillsdale Home Chef. 2:30-5 pm. $65. Register here.

Wednesday, August 24 (Chestnut Hill, PA)
I’ll be back at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House with the team from Weaver’s Way Co-op for the final class in our summer preserving series. In this one, we’ll make Easy Tomato Salsa and will talk all about safely canning tomatoes. 7-9 pm. Register here.

Saturday, August 27 (Fayetteville, AR)
I’ll be offering a canning and preserving demo at the Fayetteville Roots Festival. 2 pm! More details to come!

Saturday, September 3 (Decatur and Atlanta, GA)
11:15 – 12 noon, you’ll find me at demonstrating at the Decatur Book Festival. After the demo is over, I’ll be signing books! Then, from 3 to 4:30, I’ll be at Atlanta Botanical Garden, teaching a demo-style class. Registration info here. So much fun in a single day!

Sunday, September 4 (Chattahoochee Hills, GA)
I’ll be at the Bosch Experience Center in Serenbe for a five course Prepared Pantry Dinner. Every course of the meal is based on a recipe from Naturally Sweet. Thanks go to Lyn Deardorff from Preserving Now for making this event happen! 4-7 pm. $75 (which includes a copy of my new book). Get your tickets here.

Tuesday, September 6 (Nashville, TN)
I’ll be teaching a demo-style class at Green Door Gourmet. More details to come!

Saturday, September 10 (Philadelphia)
I’m returning to Greensgrow to teach a class that is focusing in on canning tomatoes. We’ll make honey sweetened tomato jam and talk about to ensure that your preserved tomatoes are safe and delicious. 12-2 pm. $35. Register here.

After that, I head to California for a handful of events. I’m still nailing down all the details, but here’s where you’ll find me!

September 15 – Pacific Grove, CA! Canning demo at Happy Girl Kitchen. More details to come!
September 17 – Healdsburg, CA! Canning class at The Shed. 1-3 pm. Details here.
September 18 – San Francisco! Fort Mason Farmers Market. More details to come!
September 20 – San Francisco Public Library. More details to come!
September 21 – Oakland, CA! Canning demo and book signing at Pollinate Farm & Garden. 6:30-8:30 pm. $17.50. Sign up here.

Comments { 4 }

My Jam Didn’t Set! What Should I Do?

This post is for new jam makers. If you are an experienced and seasoned canner, I invite you to leave your wisdom in the comments section!

six 12 ounce jars of cherry rhubarb jam

You’re a new canner and your jam didn’t set. It is runny and sloshy and you don’t know what to do. Before you start to worry, let me ask you a few questions.

When did you make the jam? It can sometimes take 24-48 hours for a batch of jam to finish setting up. If your jam is still just an hour or two out of the canner and you’re worried about the set, it’s time to chill out. Literally. Walk away. Stop thinking about it.

Okay. You’ve let the jars rest for a day or two and it’s still more sauce than jam. Next question. Did you follow the recipe? Many of us look at jam recipes and are aghast at the amount of sugar it calls for. So we reduce the amount of sugar, thinking that it won’t do anything but make the jam less sweet.

steamy strawberry jam

Sadly, sugar plays a huge role in set. If you cut the amount in the recipe and you don’t compensate with a pectin designed for low sugar preserving, your jam may well be runny.

Did you check for set while the jam was cooking? Any time a recipe gives you a cooking time, it’s simply an approximation. During cooking, you also need to be checking for signs of set. You do this by using the frozen plate test, watching how the jam sheets off the spatula, and taking the temperature of your cooking jam. More on those techniques here.

pear vanilla jam drizzle

You followed the recipe, it’s been a couple days since the jars came out of the canner, and still, your jam is runny. What kind of pectin did you use? If you used Certo or Sure-Jell liquid pectin, that might be the culprit. They changed their formulation a few years ago and I find that it’s not as effective as the other options on the market.

So. You followed a recipe, you checked for set, you used reliable pectin, the jars have been out of the canner for a few days, and still, the jam is too darned soft. Put a jar in the fridge and check the consistency in 24 hours. Cooler temperatures often help the jam find its way to a firmer consistency. 

finished plum jam

If you’ve gotten to the end of this post and you’re still unhappy with the way your jam turned out, you’ve got a couple of options. The first is to rename the preserve you’ve made. Call it sauce, pancake topping, or preserves. By changing the name, you shift your expectations and suddenly, runny jam doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Or, if you absolutely, positively need to have a firm set, you can always remake the jam. I’ve got instructions on how to do that here. Just know that you’ll lose some yield in remaking it, and that there are no guarantees that you’ll end up with exactly what you want.

Comments { 30 }

August Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, Mrs. Wages, Orchard Road, Punk Domestics, and Mason Jar Lifestyle

mrs wages freezer pectin

Welcome August! It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time to thank the companies that help make Food in Jars possible! Tell them you appreciate their support of my work with a purchase or a social follow!

Back in the top spot are our friends at Cuppow. They are the creator 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. Parents and kids love their EIO set, with its grippy silicone sleeve and a lid that makes for easy sipping.

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are next! They sell all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear (and recently, they added Mrs. Wages products to their line-up). This month, they’ve teamed up with Countryside Magazine to offer four weeks of canning-centric giveaways, so make sure to enter! I have two blog posts and giveaways featuring their products coming up this month, so stay tuned!

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!

Orchard Road makes mason jars, lids, and rings for home canners. Their jars are sold in packs of six and come in sturdy boxes that can be used for storage. Orchard Road’s physical distribution is limited, but their online store is open for business, so you can now order them straight from the source.

Looking for a culinary travel adventure? Don’t miss the Italian tours that Sean Timberlake from Punk Domestics leads. He’s currently booking a trip for the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It takes place October 6-12 and is not to be missed!

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, and cozies to transform your mason jars into travel mugs, make sure to check them out!

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

Comments { 0 }

Links: Pickled Fruit, Lavender, and Winners

making dilly beans

I feel like I type some configuration of these words every year, but I can’t quite believe how quickly this summer is flying by. How is tomorrow August? Rather than wax poetic about the passage of time, I’m just going to dig into these links.

The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving

Now time for some winners (and I’m a giveaway behind0. First up, the winner of the Mrs. Wages tomato basket from two weeks ago is #120/Joy. The winners of last week’s The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving and the stainless steel rings from Mason Jar Lifestyle are #117/Maria C., #238/Anita E., and #316/Kristal.

Comments { 0 }

Food Swap Cookbook Philadelphia Events

cover of the Food Swap Cookbook by Emily Paster

Friends! Next week, Chicago-based food writer and cookbook author Emily Paster is coming to Philadelphia to promote her new book, Food Swap!. She’ll be making an appearance at our summer food swap on August 3 at the Awbury Arboretum (there are still spots available and you can register here) and will be teaching a class at Cook at 2 pm on Saturday, August 6.

Together, the two of us will be at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market on Sunday, August 7 from 10 am to 2 pm. We’ll both be sampling treats from our books and will have copies on hand for sale and signature.

Oh, and if you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be demoing small batches of honey-sweetened stonefruit jam at the Callowhill Whole Foods Market on Saturday, July 30 from 12 noon to 4 pm!

Comments { 1 }

Simple Apricot Jam Recipe

This simple apricot jam is made with just fruit and sugar. The recipe is calculated using a three to one ratio, so it can easily be scaled up or down, depending on how many apricots you have to start.

A vertical image of jars filled with simple apricot jam

This is the first summer in nearly six years that I’m not working on a cookbook. While this scares me a little bit (I like knowing that I have the next project locked down), it also feels totally liberating. Because it means that I am free to make whatever I want. What’s more, everything I make can eventually make it to the blog. I don’t have to hold anything back.

Apricots spread out to ripen on an old sheet tray

A couple weeks ago, I got about 22 pounds of apricot seconds from a local grower. If I was producing for a book, those apricots would have been earmarked for particular projects. I would have needed to have made interesting flavor combinations. What’s more, I would have been timing every aspect of the cooking process, to be sure that I could accurately represent the process in writing.

Pockmarked and scarred apricots in an old blue and white colander

Instead, I made three large batches of plain, unadulterated, totally simple apricot jam. Just apricots and sugar, measured by weight, macerated overnight, and cooked down into slightly runny, intensely tart, vividly orange jam.

Chopped apricots for simple apricot jam

Because, my friends, as much as I like apricot butter, apricot jam spiked with rosemary or thyme, and apricot chutney, this very simple apricot jam is one of my favorite things on the planet. And because I was canning only to please myself, that is what I made.

Apricots cooking down into a simple jam in a copper preserving pan

My whole sensory self was engaged as the jam cooks. I watched the bubbles, felt the fruit thickening as I stirred. The fragrance of cooking sugar rode up with the steam and the sound of the boil became more frenzied as the process neared completion.

Finished basic apricot jam in a copper preserving pan

This is not canning that easily fits into a book. It doesn’t bring anything new or novel to the table. It is, in fact, how people have been making jam for a very long time. But it brings me joy. It’s artful, creative jam making.

A cluster of mason jar filled with simple apricot jam

A note on working with seconds. Normally, when calculating recipes by weight, I measure out the fruit before I pit and quarter it, figuring that the loss will be minimal. However, when I’m working with seconds that require more trimming and culling than unmarred fruit, I wait until after I’m done with the prep work to weigh the fruit and calculate how much sugar to use. It’s this second approach that you’ll see reflected in the recipe below.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 17 }