Links: Ginger Pear Butter, Giveaways, and Winners

fermented wax beans

About a week ago, our under sink water filter sprang a leak, causing a great deal of mess and upheaval. We’re all cleaned up now, with a new filter that’s better than the old one, but it took a goodly amount of mopping, sorting, trashing, and general disruption to get back to normal. The whole experience feels like it’s an allegory for life. There’s turmoil, mess, and recovery, but in the end, you wind up in a situation that’s better than before.

assorted mason jar accessories 1 - Food in Jars

The two winners in my Mason Jar Accessories giveaway are #332/Maria C. and #452/Beth. Congratulations to the winners! The giveaway is taking a short break this week, but will be back next week. And thanks to everyone who shared dinner ideas and suggestions. It was most inspiring to read about the things you’ve been cooking lately!

Comments { 4 }

Canning 101: How to Make Jam With Frozen Fruit + Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam

frozen apricots - Food in Jars

It is mid-winter, which means that the pickings are quite slim for canners in search of fresh fruit to turn into jams and fruit butters. However, if you’ve got a preserving itch that must be scratched, take heart and turn to the freezer.

frozen apricots top - Food in Jars

Whether you’re using fruit you yourself tucked into the deep freeze or you’ve decided to rely on that which you can find in the cases at the grocery store, it’s possible to coax satisfying spreads out of previously as long as you remember a couple of things.

frozen apricots sugared - Food in Jars

First and most important, don’t defrost your fruit prior to combining it with the sugar. I’ve made jam from a wide array of frozen fruit in my time, and I’ve learned that my results are always better if I liberally dust the fruit with sugar while it’s still frozen.

The sugar draws away some of the water in the fruit, which helps it hold its shape better, while also providing some protection against browning. This is especially helpful in the case of light-colored fruit like apricots and peaches, which will turn grey and squishy if left to defrost on their own.

defrosting apricots - Food in Jars

The second tip for success when using frozen fruit in preserving is to use weight as your measurement tool. Because you’re going to sugar the fruit before it has defrosted, volume measurements for the fruit won’t be accurate. By using weight as your guiding measurement, you’ll be able to keep the proportions of fruit to sugar steady and set yourself up for success.

finished jam - Food in Jars

For those of you who made plenty of jam back in the summer and question why one would want to make jam from frozen fruit, I have four words for you. Apricot Meyer Lemon Jam.

This season bending preserve isn’t possible to make on the east coast without the aid of a freezer, but it is good enough that I try to stash four pounds of apricots in my freezer drawer each summer, so that I’m able to make it when Meyer lemons are in season. Oh, and if you can’t wait another year for this one, try freezing some Meyer lemon juice and zest right now, to save for apricot season.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 21 }

Giveaway: Assorted Mason Jar Accessory Grab Bags

assorted mason jar accessories 1 - Food in Jars

There is a basket that sits next to my desk. It collects the various mason jar tools and accessories that people often send me. Over the last few weeks, this basket has gotten so full that its contents threaten to spill out across my small work area.

assorted mason jar accessories 2 - Food in Jars

Instead of schlepping the excess off to the Goodwill, I thought I’d put together a pair of assorted accessory grab bags and offer them up for giveaway here. I’ll divide up the goodies you see pictured here, along with some other items I’ve found since taking that picture and send them off to the two lucky winners.

assorted mason jar accessories 3 - Food in Jars

A good deal of the items you see here are from site sponsors Fillmore Container and Mason Jar Lifestyle and friend of FIJ EcoJarz. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a silicone drink lid, or one of those snazzy one-piece lids with the straw hole, make sure to visit their sites!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and me what you’ve been making for dinner lately (I need some fresh inspiration).
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, February 20, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, February 21, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Links: Marmalade, Citrus Curds, and a Winner

lime marm in jars

The weather has been so brutally cold in Philly this week that I’ve spent most of the last seven days in a state of functional hibernation. Essentially, I go out only when absolutely necessary and have been getting into bed hours earlier than normal. There has also been a very great deal of soup consumed in our household. I very much welcome the warm-up that’s predicted this week! Now, some links!

Milk Kefir Kit Front

It was so nice to see so many of you welcoming the weekly giveaway back to the fold. The winner of the Milk Kefir Grains Starter Kit from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh is #30/Kelley.

Comments { 7 }

Food in Jars is Seven Years Old Today!

Seven Years

Hard though it may be to believe, today is the seventh anniversary of the very first post on this blog (it feels like it’s been both much longer and far shorter than that). I started this site when I knew I would be leaving my job as the lead blogger of Slashfood. I wanted to create an online home for myself so that I could remain involved in the food blog community once that gig was up.

I had no idea then that I would be starting something that would evolve into a robust, fulfilling, and occasionally maddening career. I am grateful every day for this patch of internet and all that it has brought into my life.

I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the most popular posts I’ve published over the years. Do you spot your favorite among these ten? If not, what post did you love the best?

tomato sauce

1. Why You Can’t Can Your Family’s Tomato Sauce – Ever popular and ever contentious, this post tries to give people a basic understanding of how pH works in canning.

runny jam

2.How to Save Runny Jam – Canners everywhere struggle with this issue, and never is it more clear than in the comments section of this post!

small tomatoes

3. Five Ways to Preserve Small Tomatoes – These remain my favorite ways to put up grape, cherry, and Sungold tomatoes. The recipe for pickled grape tomatoes at the end of the post is both entirely fussy and truly delicious. I highly recommend it.

canning pot trivet rack

4. New to Canning? Start Here: Boiling Water Bath Canning – It took me years to get a post detailing the steps of boiling water bath canning up on this site, but the one I finally produced is something about which I continue to be proud. I still mean to pick that New to Canning series up someday.

tomato jam

5. Tomato Jam – It’s the first recipe to make the list and is truly the most deserving of all the recipes I’ve published here. If you still haven’t tried it, earmark it for this summer.

salt for canning

6. On Substituting Salt in Pickling – A useful post, but one that could probably use a revisit for clarity’s sake.

jam drips

7. How to Ensure That Your Jam Sets – Useful information, though sometimes jam just won’t set, no matter what you do!

curried zucchini pickles

8. Six Ways to Preserve Zucchini – Curried zucchini pickles! Chocolate zucchini bread! Zucchini butter with garlic and thyme! So delicious!

jalapenos in jars

9. Unfancy Pickled Jalapeno Peppers – Utilitarian canning at its best.

garlic dill pickles

10. Garlic Dill Pickles – They don’t hold their texture perfectly, but the flavors are spot on. I’ve taken to making these as refrigerator pickles, to retain their signature crunch.

Comments { 29 }

Giveaway: Milk Kefir Starter Kit from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh

Milk Kefir Kit Front

Friends! After a month-long break, the giveaway is back! This week, I’m featuring the Milk Kefir Grains Starter Kit from the nice folks at Hobby Hill Farm Fresh. The kit contains a small packet of milk kefir grains, a small plastic strainer (kefir grains don’t like metal), and an instruction booklet. Once you activate the grains, they can be recultured repeatedly and can produce up to 1 quart of kefir per day.

milk kefir grains - Food in Jars

When you open up a packet of kefir grains, you’ll find a small number of dried yellow nubbins, packaged in dried milk. To wake them up, you combine them with 1 cup of pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk, cover the jar with something breathable, and let them sit for 24 hours.

Milk Kefir - Food in Jars

Give the grains fresh milk every day, until the milk begins to separate into curds and whey. Once that happens, you can start to increase the amount of milk you’re culturing and the kefir is ready for drinking, baking, and flavoring. The best way to keep kefir grains happy is to regularly give them fresh milk for culturing!

Hydrated Milk Kefir Grains - Food in Jars

For more information on making milk kefir and what to do with it, I recommend checking out this post on Phickle.

I have one of these Milk Kefir Grains Starter Kits to giveaway! Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite way to use kefir. When I was a kid, we always had a quart in the fridge for smoothies and quick breakfasts!
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, February 13, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, February 14, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Hobby Hill Farm Fresh is providing the starter kit for this giveaway at no cost to me. They are a site sponsor and a valued Food in Jars partner. However, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.