Brewing Tea in Jars + Keeping Tea Bags in Place

clothes pinned tea bags

For the last year or so, I’ve been in the habit of brewing up a quart jar of herbal tea each morning when I make myself that vital mug of something hot and caffeinated (I’m currently deeply addicted to PG Tips with milk and honey, but I feel a coffee jag coming on any day now).

While I have no problem drinking water all day long, I’ve found that it makes for a nice treat to have something with a bit of flavor to sip with lunch. This quart jar tea fits the bill because it’s easy and helps me work through my embarrassingly large tea stash. It also frees me from the temptation of spending $3+ on an iced tea if I go out to run an errand or two in the afternoon.

verticle tea in jar

Most of the time I find myself using tea bags and have always employed the trick of attaching a clothespin to the tags on the bag to keep them from flying into the jar when I pour in the boiling water. However, back in January, I learned another way from my sister. She’s also in the habit of brewing tea in quart jars (funny how certain things run in families) and she keeps her tea bags in place with rubber bands.

When I first noticed that all the quart jars in her cabinet had rubber bands positioned below the 1 inch ring, I thought she was using them as a way for people to identify their jar. But when I asked about it, she relieved their true purpose and said that she leaves the on all the time, even when running the jars through the dishwasher.

rubber banded tea bags

I think her use of rubber bands is brilliant, particularly because it also identifies which jars are drinking glass regulars verses ones being used for canning (if you use certain jars for drinking all the time, you weaken them a little and so it’s best to keep them out of your canning ecosystem if you can as they’re more prone to breakage).

It’s also a trick to remember this summer if you have a stash of jars you use for parties and outdoor gatherings. Assign everyone a different color and pop the rubber bands on the jars to keep your drinks straight.

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Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumbers

salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

In yesterday’s post about fancy salts, I mentioned that I would be sharing a couple of tasty ways to use these more esoteric salts in batches of pickles. This first recipe is one that uses a generous teaspoon of fleur de sel (though you can also use kosher salt if that’s what you’ve got) to pull some liquid out of the cucumbers and firm up their texture a little.

brine and salted cucumbers - Food in Jars

This pickle is loosely based on the recipe for smacked cucumber in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Every Grain of Rice. I made it for the first time last year and it rapidly became one of my favorite things to eat (so crunchy! so spicy!). However, it’s the sort of thing that should be made and eaten within the same hour and so I tried to make a version that would keep its texture a little bit longer.

brined cucumbers - Food in Jars

You start by peeling, seeding, and slicing the two cucumbers. Heap the pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with one teaspoon of fleur de sel. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cucumbers and then let them sit for about half an hour. When the time is up, there should be a goodly accumulation of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Drain that out, toss the cucumbers again and try draining them once more. I tend to do this three or four times, until the cucumbers aren’t releasing anymore water.

quick pickled cucumbers - Food in Jars

While the cucumbers sit with the salt, mix up the pickling liquid (all the exact amounts can be found in the organized recipe below). It’s a slurry of grated garlic, grated ginger, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and coarse ground red chili powder (I use the kind meant for making kimchi). Finally, combine the cucumbers and the dressing and stir to combine.

You can eat this pickle immediately (truly, it’s one of the quickest), or you can funnel it into a jar and eat it by the forkful over the next day or two. It’s fiery from the chili powder and garlic, and I find it endlessly delicious.

Don’t forget to enter this week’s giveaway from The Meadow!
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win!

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April Sponsors: Cuppow, Fillmore Container, New West KnifeWorks, and Preserving Now

BNTO - Food in Jars

It’s April! Time to welcome spring and say thanks to the companies that help make it possible for me to do what I do. Please shower them with your love (and business)!

First up is jar accessory maker Cuppow! They are the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO, a cup that fits into a wide mouth mason jar and transforms it into a lunch box. They’ll be at the Eat Boutique Pop Up Market with me this Saturday and Sunday and will be giving a free BNTO to everyone who buys a copy of one of my books!

Next comes our friends at Fillmore Container. They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Visit their blog to read up on how to best prepare for canning season!

I’m happy to welcome the nice folks at New West KnifeWorks back again! Based in Wyoming, they are makers of gorgeous, sturdy, crafted in the US kitchen knives. They are a joy to work with. If you register on their site, you enter yourself in for a chance to win one of their 7-piece knife blocks.

Last, but certainly not least is Preserving Now! Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events! Lyn has been instrumental in setting up an array of book events for me in Atlanta and you can find out more about where I’ll be by visiting her website. Thanks so much, Lyn!

If you’d like to be a sponsor, there are lots of spots available, starting at just $75 a month.
Please visit my sponsorship page for more details! 

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Giveaway: Foundation Salt Set from The Meadow

Foundation Salt Set - Food in Jars

Salt has forever been an essential ingredient in food preservation. It plays a key role in pickling, whether you’re fermenting or using vinegar, and has also long been used to preserve meat and fish.

As canners, one of the things we often hear is that pickling salt is the only way to go. And while it’s true that it dissolves quickly and doesn’t contain any additives that could discolor your pickles, I believe there are places for a variety of salts in the home preserver’s toolbox.

Fleur de Sel - Food in Jars

For the last few summers, I’ve made all my pickles with fine grain sea salts like this Fleur de Sel from The Meadow. I measure it out by weight in order to ensure that I don’t oversalt my dilly bean and cucumber dills (more on how to swap salts by weight in this post from 2010) and the finished pickles are fabulous and the quality of the brine suffers not at all from the salt substitution.

Sel Gris - Food in Jars

When I want to incorporate chunkier, more mineral-flavored salts like Sel Gris in my preserving, I opt for a batch of Herbs Salees (it’s best done in high summer, when tender herbs can be had for a song). I have a version of salt preserved herbs in my new cookbook, or you can try the technique on Well Preserved. They add incredible flavor to soups and stews.

Flake Salt - Food in Jars

Recently, the folks at The Meadow sent me their Foundation Salt Set (it retails for $40. If that feels too spendy, maybe their Mini Foundation Set at $20 might suit your budget?) and a little jar of deeply smoked sea salt to play with. I’ve been a customer of theirs since 2009, but their inventory is so deep that other that the Fleur de Sel, all the salts were new to me.

I have two pickle recipes going up later this week that feature these interesting salts, so stay tuned for those. However, in the mean time, let’s have a giveaway! The Meadow is offering up one of their Foundation Salt Sets to one lucky Food in Jars reader. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a salty tidbit. Do you have a favorite salt? Have you ever tried making your own sea salt? Tell me something about your relationship with salt.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, April 6, 2014.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents only.
  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 Meadow sent me some salt to use and photograph and are also providing a set for the winner of this giveaway. However, they did not pay to be featured here on this blog and all opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.

This Weekend: Eat Boutique Spring Pop Up Market at Fringe!

First sighting of the new book in the wild! It is a rare and unique joy.

Hey Boston! I’m coming to see you this weekend. I’ll be at the Eat Boutique Spring Pop Up Market at Fringe on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 5 pm to show off my small batch canning tricks, sign books (we’ll have copies of both Food in Jars and Preserving by the Pint), and answer canning questions.

What’s more, the nice folks at Cuppow are giving a free BNTO to everyone who buys a copy of one of my books (I’m also going to be showing some of the cool things you can do with a BNTO).

Here are all the details:
When: Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6, 12 noon to 5 pm.
Where: Fringe Union
9 Olive Square
Somerville, Massachusetts 02143
How much: Totally free!

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Links: Mango Butter, Savory Crumbles, and Winners

I'm at the Fair Food Farmstand! Come say hi!

I spent four hours on Saturday hanging out at the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market, sharing tastes of Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam and signing copies Preserving by the Pint. It was a great day and so fun to meet so many of you! Thanks to everyone who braved the torrential rain to come out! Now, links.

Preserving by the Pint cover - Food in Jars

Thank you all so much for your kind words about the new book last week! The three giveaway copies go to…

Stay tuned, I’ll have a fresh giveaway up tomorrow.

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